News and Updates (as of 12/22/96)

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017:

FLORIDA:

Death penalty changes cause families, jurors to relive cases----"I thought justice had been served," one juror said of her role in an 11-1 death penalty decision. But the convicted murderer now has a second chance at life. "I had nightmares during that time," another said.

As each of the 12 jurors rose to announce their decision, all but one looked James Armando Card in the eye and affirmed his condemnation to death.

Several children were present in the courtroom that day as Pamela Pursley scanned the audience from the jury box. She recalled that during the trial, Card would glare at members of the jury and jot notes on a legal pad, seemingly sending a message of intimidation.

"I had nightmares during that time," Pursley said in an interview with The News Herald. "I'd just moved into an apartment on my own, and I had to go back home and stay with my parents."

It was the 1st and only time Pursley has been called to jury duty. She had registered to vote mere months before receiving the summons, which would lead to her participation in one of Bay County's oldest and most brutal murder cases.

On June 3, 1981, then-35-year-old Card had armed himself with a knife before robbing the Western Union office in Panama City where Janis Franklin worked. During a struggle, Franklin's fingers were severely cut on both hands, with several fingers on her right hand almost severed. Card then forced Franklin into a car and drove 8 miles to a wooded area, where he - falsely - promised he wouldn't hurt her.

As Card's kidnapping, armed robbery and first-degree murder trial unfolded, jurors learned that when they arrived at the wooded area, Card instead came up from behind Franklin, grabbed her hair, pulled her head back and slit her throat several inches deep. Card then stood over Franklin, a woman he knew, and watched her bleed to death, later telling a friend he even enjoyed it.

Franklin's body would remain undiscovered for almost a day, and Card remained at large for 5 days before being arrested.

By the trial's end, Pursley felt confident enough in the prosecution's case to face Card and announce in open court that she was 1 of the 11 jurors who wanted him to be executed.

"I thought justice had been served," she said. "Based on the evidence, I felt he was very guilty. ... It was a senseless act, and I felt like it was my duty to society to get this guy off the streets. There was also a little bit of me wanting justice for (Franklin's) 2 girls."

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In the years that followed Card's death sentence, Pursley regularly checked records to make sure he remained on death row.

However, recent changes to the state's death penalty procedures have reversed Pursley's vote, and Card now is looking at a 2nd chance at life.

Card's case is among 11 1st-degree murder death sentences in the 14th Judicial Circuit, which includes Bay County, currently being considered for a new penalty phase or proceeding toward one. The cases were opened for reconsideration as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January 2016 that found Florida's death penalty process unconstitutional. By the end of about a year-long debate in the Florida Legislature, lawmakers reached the agreement that capital punishment had to be levied unanimously by a jury, and a judge could not diverge from the jury's verdict.

The decision not only will apply to future Bay County murder cases, but also to those that have been pending for the 45-year modern era of the death penalty in Florida. It already has had significant effects on the lives of the victims' families, as they now are being made to relive the brutal demises of their loved ones.

However, family members on the other side - those related to inmates executed by the state - likewise suffer the emotional fallout from the system of the past.

Card's case is the 2nd in Bay County's history since the reinstatement of the death penalty. It is preceded only by that of Charles "Kenny" Foster, now 70, who was condemned to death in 1975 after he confessed to killing 65-year-old Julian Franklin Lanier and laughed about it on the witness stand.

Although the jury returned a unanimous recommendation that Foster be executed for the crime, he has sat on death row appealing the outcome ever since. He now also is seeking a new sentencing phase despite the jury's unanimous verdict.

"While I can understand that the state doesn't want to execute an innocent person, in this case that is not the question," said Beatrice Long, Lanier's niece. "This was a man who at his age was not new to the life of crime. ... I know what kind of person he was in some respects. I never knew he would ever meet my family and surely not my uncle."

Long said she is 1 of only 3 living relatives who witnessed Foster's trial and are awaiting justice. She remembered the day before Lanier's July 15, 1975, death when their family gathered supplies and prepared for a fishing trip in the morning.

"My uncle wanted to make sure I would make the potato salad and cole slaw, of course," Long said. "... When he left my house, I never dreamed that he would be the victim a brutal attack and murder."

Lanier met then-29-year-old Foster at a bar in downtown Panama City that night. The 2 men had picked up 2 young women, who agreed to go elsewhere to drink and have sex for money.

The 4 left for a wooded area east of Callaway to party in Lanier's Winnebago. But, as Lanier began to undress with one girl, Foster struck him over the head, put a knife to his neck and slit his throat. Foster then dragged Lanier's body into the bushes to cover it with pine branches and leaves before he noticed Lanier was still breathing. So Foster took the knife, cut Lanier's spine at the base of his neck and stole his camper.

Long said many of those closest to her uncle have died awaiting justice. Lanier's daughter suffered from alcoholism after the trial and his son committed suicide, which Long directly attributed to the murder.

Long said before Lanier's murder, she didn't think much about the death penalty. She is now a staunch supporter - in Foster's case at least. Long said she hoped to witness it for before she passes away.

"I'd like to see him die - look him in the eyes," she said. "My Uncle Julian was the kindest, most generous person who ever walked this Earth ... If you needed anything, all you had to do was ask or let him find out and he would come to your aid, be it in person or anonymously. That's the person that Kenny Foster brutally beat, slashed, buried alive and then went back, nearly decapitating him."

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Since 1972, when Florida reinstated the death penalty, only 93 people have been executed by the state. In the Bay County area, of the 11 death row inmates, that number is zero.

Nonetheless, its effects have been felt by local residents.

In September 2002, guards strapped 40-year-old Michael Passaro to the crucifix-shaped gurney inside a South Carolina execution chamber. Moments after the lethal serum was administered, Passaro's eyes glazed over and closed for the last time, and in about a minute, a subtle smile appeared upon his face. Gina Farthing, Passaro's older sister and now a resident of Panama City, watched from the box alongside their mother. She said she considered it more similar to euthanasia than an execution.

"It was more like relief," Farthing said. "I started to cry, but I had to stop myself. I wanted him to see me smile. I wanted to wish him well on his journey."

Farthing said her brother led a troubled life with a history of mental illness before being convicted of killing of his 2-year-old daughter, Maggie, and sentenced to death.

Passaro had attempted to commit suicide the Monday before Thanksgiving 1998 by setting fire to a vehicle with himself and his daughter inside, but Maggie was the only one to die in the blaze. In the course of the next 4 years of legal proceedings, prosecutors offered Passaro life in prison for what was considered a premeditated crime, which he declined in favor of being tried and executed by the state. Passaro also waived his automatic appeal with the state supreme court - an unprecedented decision in South Carolina.

Ultimately, his death provided needed closure, both for Passaro and his family. Farthing said she was always close to and protective of her brother, so she understood his decision. But her parents, particularly her father, felt differently.

"I had a different reaction. I was glad to see my brother go," Farthing said. "My father didn't. That was his son, and he did not want him to die."

The stances and circumstances of the case further sowed schisms within her family, Farthing said. The most surprising result of the entire case was the reaction from people they considered their neighbors, who treated the family as pariahs for supporting Passaro despite his actions.

"There's not just 1 side of a story," Farthing said. "People will never know all the victims because some stay on the sidelines out of fear of ridicule. Even when people try to get the whole picture, they can only guess at best."

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So far, 5 of the 11 pending death penalty cases in the 14th Judicial Circuit have been reversed and granted a new penalty phase. The State Attorney's Office has announced its intention to again pursue the death penalty in 2 - that of a cop killer and the rapist and killer of a 13-year-old girl. Prosecutors also are pursuing the death penalty in 3 other cases that have yet to go to trial.

For those personally affected by death penalty decisions, opinions vary.

Farthing, who at one point was a corrections officer, said she always supported the death penalty. In the case of her brother, he was able to find the peace he sought through capital punishment. In other cases, she said, the decisions are sometimes clear cut.

"I've always been grateful that our country has a death penalty. For me, it was a gift," she said. "But murder is murder, whether by state or individual. I just wish it was not necessary and people treated each other as they would be treated."

For family members of victims, however, the possibility of a death sentence acts as a deterrent so others don't suffer as they have. And many of them think those who already have been sentenced to death should receive swift punishment.

"It upsets me that when laws are made that they are not abided by," Long said. "This is why people never learn to respect the laws. There are very slim chances that a criminal will ever face the consequences for their actions that were put forth by the law."

Pursley added the reversals of the death penalties seemed to undermine the justice she thought she was attaining for the family and society.

"I felt like what I thought was being kicked to the curb," she said. "That was a heartbreaking trial. I hope (the death penalty) is upheld. It's not fair to the family or the taxpayers."

(source: chipleypaper.com)

TENNESSEE:

Man guilty of raping, murdering Tennessee student avoids death penalty

A Tennessee man avoided a possible death penalty by agreeing Saturday to a sentence of life in prison plus 50 years for the kidnapping, rape and killing of nursing student Holly Bobo.

Judge C. Creed McGinley told a jury that Zachary Adams made a deal with prosecutors just minutes ahead of his sentencing hearing. Adams, 33, was convicted Friday of murder, especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape after an 11-day jury trial in Savannah, Tennessee.

Under the agreement, Adams received a state prison term of life without parole for Bobo's killing. He was sentenced to consecutive terms of 25 years for both the kidnapping and rape convictions.

Bobo was 20 when she disappeared from her home in rural Parsons on April 13, 2011. Her remains were found by 2 men who were hunting for ginseng not far from her Decatur County home in September 2014.

Bobo's vanishing led to a massive search of the farms, fields and barns of western Tennessee. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has said that the Bobo investigation is the most exhaustive and expensive in the agency's history.

But investigators found no DNA evidence connecting Bobo to Adams. Instead, they relied on testimony from friends and jail inmates who said Adams spoke of harming Bobo.

In court Saturday, McGinley told the jury the deal was reached with "some reluctance." The judge asked Adams if he voluntarily agreed to the deal that may have saved his life.

"Yes sir," Adams responded in a soft voice.

Bobo's mother Karen addressed the jury, telling the panel that her daughter was a loving person who "appreciated the small things in life."

"She was the sweetest soul I ever knew," Karen Bobo said.

She also pointed at Adams and called him an "animal." She said Adams has showed "absolutely no remorse."

Adams did not testify during the trial.

Karen Bobo also said she saw her husband Dana smile for the 1st time since their daughter went missing 6 years ago.

"I didn't know the man had dimples," prosecutor Jennifer Nichols told reporters after the court hearing.

2 other men, Jason Autry and Adams' brother, John Dylan Adams, also face charges of kidnapping, raping and killing Bobo.

Autry testified against Adams, telling jurors that Adams told him that he, his brother and their friend, Shayne Austin, had raped Bobo. Autry also said that he served as a lookout as Adams shot Bobo near a river in the day she was reported missing.

Autry was on a list of witnesses offered immunity in the case. He said he testified because he wanted leniency.

Autry's lawyer has told the judge that a trial does not need to be set for Autry, indicating he has reached a deal with prosecutors. A trial date has not been set for John Dylan Adams.

Prosecutor Paul Hagerman said none of the men charged in the case showed any grace for Holly Bobo.

Yet, the Bobo family "chose to end this thing with grace."

(source: Associated Press)

ARIZONA:

New Rector lawyer makes 1st appearance

The lead attorney for a Bullhead City man facing the death penalty for murder made his 1st appearance Friday in Superior Court.

Justin James Rector, 29, of Bullhead City is charged with 1st-degree murder, kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a dead body in the Sept. 2, 2014, death of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella.

Rector is accused of strangling Grogan-Cannella and leaving her body in a shallow grave near her Bullhead City home. He is being held in county jail without bond.

Quinn Jolly made his 1st appearance as 1st chair in Rector's case. Co-counsel Julia Cassels remains as 2nd counsel.

2 death penalty qualified attorneys are required in a capital murder case.

Jolly told the judge he has been on the case for 3 weeks and is going through volumes of evidence and other documents left by Rector's previous attorney. Cassels also said they have received FBI notes including DNA reports.

Cassels said she has until Oct. 25 to file a motion to remand Rector's newest case to the grand jury. Rector is also charged with 3 counts of aggravated assault after he allegedly assaulted a detention officer July 17 in his cell. Cassels is Rector's attorney in the assault case.

Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen said he has no desire to start over with a new attorney on the murder case and hoped the case could now move forward. The judge set Rector's next hearing for Nov. 17.

(source: Mohave Valley Daily News)

CALIFORNIA:

California gang members found guilty of killing 5

2 gang members have been found guilty of killing 5 people at a homeless encampment near Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office says jurors found David Ponce and Max Rafael guilty of 5 counts of murder Friday.

Prosecutors say Ponce and Rafael fatally shot 3 men and 2 women living at the encampment near a freeway off-ramp in Long Beach.

The November 2008 mass killings baffled investigators after the 5 bodies were found on a Sunday morning. A phone tip led authorities to the bodies.

Police said the motive was an ongoing feud over drug debts between Ponce and a victim, Lorenzo Villicana. Police believe the others were killed to ensure there were no witnesses.

Ponce faces the death penalty while Rafael faces life in prison.

(source: Associated Press)

BARBADOS:

A GUY'S VIEW----Do not insult our intelligence

This newspaper's edition of September 20, 2017, reported that the National Human Rights Officer for Barbados and the Organisation of East Caribbean States posited that there is a need for research into the death penalty and how the general public views this punishment in Barbados.

That report was evidence of a perfect example of an international body seeking to hoodwink an entire population with senselessness. The only good thing, I hope, is that tax payers' money is not going towards any portion of their useless work.

As they may have done elsewhere, they could focus their investigation on a particular interest group, like defence attorneys, and then extrapolate from that finding to the rest of the country. But it is in poor taste for any person to sit in front of a Barbadian audience and say that they intend to investigate what or how Barbadians feel about the death penalty.

One of the things that may cause the outstanding work of the Attorney General of this country to be diminished in the eyes of many Barbadians is the perception that he has something to do with this country's refusal to execute murderers. Although it may be common knowledge in informed circles, it is apparently not so well known by the lady on the Bathsheba bus that while the death penalty remains on our books, for practical reasons, we cannot execute anyone.

If my memory serves me well, I believe that the Attorney General has let slip that no one will hang during his tenure. He was not necessarily suggesting that he is against the death penalty, although he might be, but was merely stating a fact. No one will hang during his tenure, or that of his successors for a long time to come.

An unfortunate reference was made to the June 5, 1999 hanging of the Dole Chadee gang in Trinidad as evidence that the death penalty has not prevented violence in that country. It is indeed fruitless to take a one-off action and expect that it would forever influence behaviour in any significant way. That event is the high water mark of how not to use the death penalty.

Effective use of the death penalty cannot be a knee jerk reaction to a particular crime. Dole Chadee and his gang took out a family because of a botched drug event. That killing outraged persons, not only in Trinidad, but across the Caribbean. I am old enough to remember the atmosphere at that time.

An extract from the Los Angeles Times painted the societal picture in Trinidad then: "Marking the moment with prayer and protest, the church bell at the capital's Roman Catholic Cathedral tolled 9 times at 8 a.m. - a reminder, Archbishop Anthony Pantin said, that 'enough blood has been spilled.'"

But with hourly news bulletins, street-corner banter and banner headlines announcing, "Hanging Time," many in this crime-weary nation of 1.3 million heaved a sigh of relief that justice was done."

In "democratic" countries, different interests compete for prominence. Unfortunately, in the Caribbean, as elsewhere, the wishes of the majority are only acknowledged when they are shared with the views of the powerful. What the majority of Trinidadians felt then, or feel now, really does not matter. The power bases in the society said no more, and there have been no more.

In a great display of puff, Trinidad withdrew from the jurisdiction of Inter-American Court on Human Rights because that organisation stood firmly against the death penalty and did everything to obstruct that punishment.

On May 26, 1998, the government of Trinidad and Tobago notified the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States that it was withdrawing its ratification of the American Convention on Human Rights. That withdrawal became effective 1 year later. There has since been a lot of talk about executions, but none has followed.

With the full knowledge of the intention and tactics of the said Inter-American Court, Barbados has chosen to remain loyal to that organisation. If there were any doubt about this country's willingness to carry out the death penalty, there should now be none.

Our history is one of always being told what to do. When we were slave societies, our people had no say in what was done in their country or even done to them personally. When we graduated to "free" colonial status, we still had no say in what would be done in our country. At the level of decision making, we could or could not agree with any decision, it made no difference. Now, as independent Caribbean states, the wishes of the majority of our people is of no moment on the issue of the death penalty.

It is commonly believed that our last executions in Barbados were dictated by the status of the victim who suffered at the hands of her killers. That could never be an appropriate use of that punishment. If an act is unlawful, it should attract the same punishment, regardless of who suffered by it. Would it take a similar circumstance to trigger the use of this punishment again? Such use would be wrong, and in any event, a single act of state revenge would not change the national situation. For any penalty to be effective, it must be applied in a fair and transparent manner on a sustained basis. It cannot be used as shock therapy.

The plan is for there never to be another state execution in Barbados, but perhaps one day the people will stand up and insist that their voice be heard. If that ever happens, before they are completely brainwashed, hanging will recommence. But there should be no holding of breath. There would literally have to be a revolution in Barbados for hanging to resume.

The United Nations need not investigate anything in Barbados about this penalty. They have already done enough to ensure that it will not be carried out again here. Barbados no longer has the sovereignty to make such a decision and they know it.

(source: Editorial, Barbados Advocate)

BANGLADESH:

Death-row convict Juba League leader back in politics

Orders to hang Juba League leader Aslam Fakir, convicted for murder, were suspended at the last moment due to his 'unnatural' behaviour.

However, there is nothing 'unnatural' in his behaviour following his release from prison. On the contrary, he is busy with his political campaigning.

Aslam Fakir has been seen with the Faridpur-4 member of parliament member and ruling Awami League (AL) presidium member Kazi Zafarullah and his wife Nilufer Zafarullah, also an MP, at different programmes in the area after his release.

The 2 MPs are said to have backed Aslam's release from prison. Aslam also has ambitions to become a local representative and an AL leader.

Asked over phone about how he got sick just before being hanged, Aslam said, "I was not sick, I just got scared as the conviction was fixed. The next day I saw the conviction was cancelled."

When asked who helped him to get clemency, Aslam replied, "Who else? Leader Zafarullah and his wife MP Nilofer Zafarullah. They showed what they can do."

Faridpur's Bhanga upazila Juba League leader Aslam Fakir was accused on 25 September 2005 of murdering Manikdaha union chairman Shaheb Ali alias Shaheb Miah.

District and sessions court sentenced him to death in the murder case. The verdict was also upheld by the High Court.

Kashimpur central prison sources said, Aslam Fakir appealed for a presidential clemency on 19 May 2013, which was rejected on 13 October 2014 and he was to be hanged on 13 November 2014.

However, the death penalty was suspended on 12 November, just at the last moment due to Aslam's 'unnatural' behaviour.

Plea for a presidential clemency, for the 2nd time, was also filed on the same day.

Later on 26 February 2015, the conviction was reduced to a 14-year imprisonment sentence.

This too was revoked as Nilofer Zafarullah MP issued as recommendation letter to the home ministry to release Aslam on 26 March for "good behaviour".

Aslam was released from jail on 25 August, after 13 years and 2 days of imprisonment.

Aslam returned to his home, Manikdaha village, 3 days later on 28 August. "And the leader is very punctual", he said.

Later the reporter had a talk with Aslam over phone. Aslam said he was perfectly fine now. He had checkups in different hospitals, and they said he has no problems now. He is now busy with campaign work.

Kazi Zafarullah said the matter is political and refrained from further comment.

Home minister Asaduzzaman said, "He was a mental patient. That is why he is pardoned. This is not right if he is roaming around and campaigning. This is not right."

Shaheb Miah's wife Paruli Begum, who was a plaintiff in the case, told Prothom Alo, "Such injustice in intolerable. After being sentenced to death, Aslam Fakir's pleas for mercy had been rejected. Even so, the orders were withdrawn just before he was due to hang. Influential people are now celebrating with my husband's murderer and campaigning in the area."

Lawyer Shahdeen Malik has said, "The incident indicates that we are facing a sick situation. There is no specific policy to decide who will be pardoned and who will not. Other countries have a clear policy. Lack of policy is helping the misuse of power".

(source: prothom-alo.com)

SEPTEMBER 23, 2017:

TEXAS:

Pair charged with murder outside parole office

2 Houston men on Thursday were indicted for allegedly killing a man as he sat in his car in the parking lot of a local parole office,

Ronald Donell Brown, aka "Dorsey Robinson," 44, and Clyde "Pete" Williams, 50, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder for hire, intentional killing related to drug trafficking and 2 counts of using a firearm in the commission of a murder.

Davis "Cuz" Roberts, 42, also named in the indictment, is charged with 1 count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute, and faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Brown and Williams could potentially face the death penalty, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office. For his role in the drug conspiracy, Roberts faces up to life in prison, if convicted.

According to a 7-count federal grand jury indictment, Brown allegedly hired Williams, and provided him with a firearm, to kill Marcus Celestine as he sat in his car outside a Houston parole office on July 1, 2014.

(source: Houston Chronicle)

GEORGIA----impending execution

Many of slain woman's family members support clemency for her killer, lawyers say

Many family members of a woman fatally shot in 1990 support clemency for her condemned killer, lawyers for Keith "Bo" Tharpe argue in a petition seeking clemency on the eve of Tharpe's scheduled execution.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole is set to consider Tharpe's case Monday, the 27th anniversary of Jacqueline Freeman's killing in Jones County. Freeman was Tharpe's sister-in-law.

Lawyers for Tharpe are asking that his execution - set for Tuesday - be stayed and that his sentence be commuted to life without the possibility of parole.

The copy of Tharpe's clemency application released to the media Friday after being declassified doesn't list which of Freeman's family members support clemency.

The portion of the document addressing their support was redacted "to protect the victims' and victims' family members' identities and privacy," according to the application.

Tharpe's application describes his early introduction to alcohol, drug addiction and remorse.

According to the application:

When jurors convicted Tharpe and sentenced him to death - just 3 months after Freeman's Sept. 25, 1990 killing - they didn't hear about his childhood, drug addiction or "limited intellectual abilities" that would have provided context for understanding how someone others described as being "kind, loving and generous" could kill his sister-in-law.

Tharpe's mother admitted in an affidavit that she drank moonshine and beer daily while pregnant with her son.

Both of Tharpe's parents drank "excessively" and ran an illegal moonshine business - a shot house - out of their home. At age 5, Tharpe began serving the homemade alcohol to customers and taking sips himself.

By the time he was 10, Tharpe was drinking enough liquor to make him drunk enough to lose consciousness. His early exposure to alcohol impaired his development.

Despite his childhood, Tharpe has been described as being a "friendly, outgoing, happy and athletic child" who had many friends and was a standout high school athlete.

He married his high school sweetheart and the couple shared 4 children. Tharpe had another daughter from a previous relationship.

Later, Tharpe became addicted to crack cocaine which led to his alienating his family and losing himself in the drug culture.

In August 1990, Tharpe's wife took their children and left him. Tharpe was desperate to win his family back, but his wife's relatives were protective of her and wanted him to stay away.

On the night before Freeman's murder, Tharpe drank and smoked crack until the early morning hours.

Then, he drove toward the Freeman family's home where several family members had homes and his wife was staying.

He encountered his wife and Freeman on the road leading to the family's property, stopped them and told his wife to get into his truck. Tharpe and Freeman argued. Then Tharpe shot Freeman with a shotgun, reloaded and shot her again.

"To this day, Mr. Tharpe cannot fathom what came over him and caused him to act as he did and kill Mrs. Freeman," his lawyers wrote in the application. "It is an act for which he takes full responsibility and will regret every day for the rest of his life."

Tharpe regularly talks about his remorse and has endeavored to live a Christian life, devoted to helping others learn from his mistakes, his lawyers argue.

Tharpe's lawyers are continuing to appeal his conviction and death sentence alleging that 1 member of the juror voted for the death penalty due to racial prejudice.

(source: Macon Telegraph)

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Georgia Set To Execute Second Inmate Of 2017----Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59, was convicted in the 1990 shotgun killing of his sister-in-law and of kidnapping and assaulting his estranged wife.

A Georgia man convicted of killing his sister-in-law with a shotgun then kidnapping and sexually assaulting his estranged wife has been scheduled for execution on Tuesday.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59, would become the 2nd person executed by lethal injection in Georgia this year and the 71st person put to death in the state since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.

That is a slower pace than 2016, when Georgia executed 9 condemned inmates.

According to court documents, Tharpe, on Sept. 24, 1990, met up with his estranged wife and sister-in-law in middle Georgia's Jones County, using his vehicle to block them then getting out brandishing a shotgun. Apparently under the influence of drugs, Tharpe, who had repeatedly threatened his wife and her family with violence, shot his sister-in-law - 29-year-old Jacquelin Freeman - with the shotgun, rolled her into a ditch, reloaded and shot her again.

He then kidnapped his wife. After unsuccessfully trying to rent a motel room, he parked by the side of a road and raped her, court documents say. Afterward, he drove her to Macon, where she was supposed to get money from her credit union.

Instead, she called police.

On January 18, 1991, Tharpe was sentenced to death after a Jones County jury found him guilty of malice murder and 2 counts of kidnapping with bodily injury.

Tharpe is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Lawyers for Tharpe have petitioned the state Board of Pardons and Paroles for clemency in the case.

The petition says Tharpe was addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol when he committed the crimes - addictions he has overcome while in prison.

"Without in any way discounting or minimizing Mrs. Freeman's death and the pain caused by Mr. Tharpe's crime, we ask the Board to consider who Mr. Tharpe is today: a man full of remorse, living every day guided by his faith, respect, and good will, who strives to put as much good into the world as he can, which he will continue to do if allowed to live out the remainder of his natural life in prison," the petition reads.

The document notes that at least some of Freeman's family members support clemency in the case and that his conviction and sentence possibly were tainted by racism, citing a jury member who was quoted using a racial slur when referring to Tharpe.

Tharpe would become the 48th inmate put to death since Georgia switched to lethal injection. There are presently 56 men under death sentence in Georgia.

Death row inmate J.W. "Boy" Ledford was the last prisoner executed in Georgia, on May 17.

(source: patch.com)

FLORIDA:

Death penalty sought for accused Kissimmee cop killer

Prosecutors with the state announced Friday that they plan to seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing 2 Kissimmee police officers.

Everett Miller shot and killed Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard last month near Palmway and Cypress Streets in Kissimmee after they responded to a suspicious persons call, investigators said.

Miller is set to appear in court Friday afternoon where the court will hear arguements if he's competent to stand trial. Miller has already undergone a mental health evaluation and the findings will be discussed in court.

Shortly after Miller was arrested at Roscoe's bar, he asked officers to kill him and that "he did a bad thing."

Miller was indicted by a grand jury on 2 counts of 1st-degree murder earlier this month.

(source: WFTV news)

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Prosecutors to seek death penalty in Jacksonville witness murder

The State Attorney's Office intends to seek the death penalty for Jecorian McCray if he is found guilty of 1st-degree murder in the September 2016 slaying of a witness.

McCray, 24, is accused of masterminding the plot to kill University of North Florida employee Joe Brenton and using jailhouse calls to recruit his teen stepbrother to carry out the killing.

Brenton was gunned down at his Oceanway home Sept. 21 to keep him from testifying against McCray in a 2014 burglary case, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

McCray and his stepbrother, Dakarai Maxwell, were indicted last month on murder and conspiracy charges. Maxwell, who was 17 at the time of the killing, won't face the death penalty.

The step siblings were charged with burglary after Brenton's home was broken into and ransacked in 2014. Prescription drugs and jewelry were taken in the burglary, which was caught on camera.

McCray, who previously served time for armed robbery, was arrested for the burglary in 2015. Police said recorded phone conversations indicated he was anxious about returning to prison.

According to court records, McCray first enlisted his girlfriend, Teirany Shelton, to lean on Brenton's family. When that plan fell through, records state McCray ordered a hit to silence Brenton.

McCray has pleaded not guilty to charges of 1st-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and witness tampering. Jury selection in the case is set for November.

(source: WJXT news)

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Jury selected in Bradenton double-murder case

A jury has been chosen in the trial of 1 of 2 men still facing charges in the 2015 fatal shooting of a Bradenton couple during a home invasion while their 5 children were home.

Trey Nonnombre, 20, is facing 2 counts of 1st-degree murder and 1 count of armed home invasion in the slaying of Esther Deneus and her boyfriend, Kantral Markeith Brooks, both 29. If convicted of the 1st-degree murder, the state will seek the death penalty.

Deneus and Brooks were found shot dead just before 4 a.m. July 9, 2015, when Bradenton police were called to the 3900 block of Southern Parkway after a security alarm was triggered by the break-in at the home the couple shared across the street from Robert H. Prine Elementary School.

The couple's 5 children, between the ages of 1 and 11 at the time, were not injured but were near their parents' bodies when police arrived.

Following a 5-day process, a jury of 14 - 6 women and 8 men - that includes 2 alternates were selected on Friday afternoon.

Jury selection began on Monday with more than 150 potential jurors summoned.

For 4 days, potential jurors went through the individual voir dire process. Assistant State Attorneys Art Brown and Rebecca Muller and defense attorneys Daniel Hernandez and Bjorn Brunvand were only permitted to ask about their prior knowledge of the case because of media attention it received, scheduling hardships and regarding any strong feeling that may have for or against the death penalty during individual questioning.

On Friday, the 54 potential jurors who remained returned for the general jury selection process, and by 4 p.m. attorneys had chosen the panel.

Circuit Judge Diana Moreland swore in members of the jury and gave them instructions before releasing them for the weekend.

Opening arguments are set to begin Monday morning.

One of Nonombre's co-defendants, Terez Jones, took a plea deal in May and pleaded guilty to 2 counts of 2nd-degree murder with a firearm and armed burglary. Jones, 35, was sentenced to 25 years of prison but as a condition of his deal will have to testify truthfully against Nonnombre and a 3rd co-defendant, Jimmie McNear.

McNear, 20, is set to stand trial on identical charges as Nonnombre during a 5-week trial period that begins Oct. 16, after the conclusion of another death penalty case in Sarasota that Moreland is presiding over.

(source: bradenton.com)

ALABAMA----woman may face death penalty

Woman found guilty in 1995 killing, dismembering; penalty phase underway

The woman charged with killing 23-year-old Justin Barnett in 1995 was found guilty of capital murder Friday morning.

Tricia Abney, 42, was charged in 2015 with capital murder during the course of a robbery for the stabbing death of Barnett. A Jefferson County jury deliberated for less than a full day before finding Abney guilty of that same charge.

Jurors were instructed on the lesser charges of intentional murder and felony murder, but opted to convict her of the more serious charge.

Abney will now have a penalty phase, where jurors will decide whether she will spend her life in prison without the possibility of parole, or face the death penalty. A mitigation expert for the defense will stand the stand this afternoon.

According to the Alabama Department of Corrections, only 5 women are currently on Alabama's death row.

Barnett disappeared on the night of June 3, 1995. He and his girlfriend, Sheila Horton, had split up for the evening to go to separate parties with their friends. When Horton returned to the couple's Southside apartment around 2 a.m. the next morning, Barnett was not there. He never came home, and Horton never heard from him again.

The case went cold for 20 years, until Abney's brother Johnathan Abney came forward to Birmingham police in 2015. He told investigators he had information about a 2-decades old murder case, and said his sister was involved.

Abney's trial started this week in Jefferson County Circuit Judge Laura Petro's courtroom. Testimony lasted 2 1/2 days, before the jury began deliberations Thursday afternoon. Abney did not take the stand.

Justin Barnett, who disappeared in 1995, was still considered a missing person until a witness came to Birmingham police 20 years later to clear his conscience.

Johnathan Abney testified on the 1st day of the trial, where he talked about his sister and their upbringing. In 1995, he moved in with his sister and her boyfriend, Jeff Martin, in a small 1-bedroom apartment on the east side of Birmingham. He said on June 3 of that year, he went to the Superbowl in Tarrant to play pool because his sister said she wanted to have some alone time with Martin. She and Martin did not pick up Johnathan Abney from the bowling alley for several hours, he said.

When the 3 got back to the apartment, Johnathan Abney said he was led into the bathroom and saw Barnett's legs hanging over the bathtub. Barnett's head and arms had been cut off and placed in trash bags on the bathroom floor, Johnathan Abney said.

He had met Barnett once before, when his sister had met up with Barnett in a Southside apartment to buy drugs. Johnathan Abney also saw a backpack on the couple's bed--one he recognized as belonging to Barnett, which had drugs and money that both Johnathan Abney and his sister told police they used.

Johnathan Abney said he drove Barnett's vehicle, which actually belonged to Horton, to a spot in Lakeview and left it. He then joined his sister and Martin, and the 3 headed to a Bibb County field. Johnathan Abney said there, his sister and Martin buried Barnett's remains and placed rocks on top of the gravesite.

During his testimony earlier this week, Johnathan Abney admitted to threatening his sister about a year before he went to police in 2015. "I said I'd make sure she spends the rest of her life in prison," Johnathan Abney said.

Police went to Mobile to interview Martin in 2015, but he refused to speak to investigators. Several days later, Martin committed suicide. Abney was arrested and charged with capital murder on July 22, 2015.

Johnathan Abney was not charged.

Police have searched the field where Johnathan Abney said Barnett's body was buried, but no remains have ever been found.

Jefferson County Deputy District Attorneys Kylie Jernigan and Neal Zarzour prosecuted the case. Emory Anthony and Wakisha Hazzard represented Abney.

Anthony said after the verdict, "We respectfully disagree but we have to accept the verdict."

(source: al.com)

MISSISSIPPI:

'Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2' explores guilt after issuing death sentence

A new film exploring the ramifications of the death penalty from an unusual perspective is showing in select screenings throughout the country. "Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2" is the story of Lindy Lou Isonhood, a Mississippi woman who served on a jury that sentenced a man to death in 1994

The movie follows Isonhood as she attempts to reconnect with the jurors who served alongside her and come to terms with her grief and guilt for her part in the decision.

Isonhood was prepared to teach vacation Bible school for a week in the summer of 1994, but "God had other plans." She was instead called for jury duty in what she soon learned to be the sentencing of Bobby Wilcher.

Wilcher was convicted in the robbery and stabbing death of 2 women in 1982, and had already been sentenced to death for the killings before. He received a new hearing after the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered new juries to review all death penalty sentences.

When it came time to make her decision, Isonhood says her "head was in conflict" with her heart, but she ultimately sided with her head - as well as the other 11 members of the jury - and voted in favor of death.

After the sentencing, Isonhood was haunted by her vote and decided to meet with Wilcher shortly before his execution. After their meeting the execution was stayed, and in subsequent years, Isonhood had the chance to get to know the man she had condemned to die.

Isonhood learned many things about the convict in their time together, including his family struggles and the sexual abuse he suffered in his childhood. She and the other jurors fault the defense attorneys for not making any of Wilcher's troubled background known during the sentencing hearing, instead asking "irrelevant" questions that did nothing to make the murderer seem more sympathetic. The closest thing he had to a real defense, they said, came from his sister, who simply pleaded with them, "please don't kill my brother."

Wilcher was executed on Oct. 18, 2006. Isonhood was Wilcher's only friend to attend the execution.

After Wilcher's execution, director Florent Vassault, a French filmmaker working on a documentary about the death penalty in the U.S., asked Isonhood if he could make a movie about her story.

Over the next 3 years, Vassault and his cameras followed Isonhood through Mississippi and Georgia, as she searched for the others who had sat on the jury with her.

Some jurors expressed remorse at their decision, while some remained firm that Wilcher got what he deserved. One man struggled with the knowledge that he had put Wilcher's family through the same emotional turmoil that Wilcher had put those of his victims through. Another, however, remained resolute in the choice he made and barely seemed to remember the details of the case. "Because it didn't affect him," Isonhood says as she drives away from their meeting.

Isonhood laments the fact that many Americans do not feel strongly about issues that do not seem to have any impact on their own lives. However, as Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, an organization which cosponsored the Sept. 13 Kansas City, Missouri, screening reminded the audience before the film began, in many states anyone could potentially be selected for jury duty and placed in the same position Isonhood and her 11 colleagues found themselves in 23 years ago.

She believes that taking a defenseless life is wrong for any reason, and also cites troubling problems in our criminal justice system. These include the incompetent defenses the accused often receive from backlogged and underpaid appointed attorneys and public defenders, as well as the sometimes biased juries selected.

"A jury of Bobby's peers? Did you see the houses these people lived in?" she asked after the Kansas City screening, comparing the large homes of some of the jurors to the relatively poor area Wilcher came from. She also noted the lack of African-Americans on the jury, even though many were in the jury pool when jury selection began.

Isonhood says that before her experience, she never had a problem with the death penalty, but serving on that jury opened her eyes to just what a terrible choice one is faced with when deciding whether another human being lives or dies. "It changes you," she tells the camera, "from the inside out."

(source: National Catholic Reporter)

OHIO----2 new execution dates

Ohio court sets execution dates for 2 killers in 2022

The Ohio Supreme Court has set execution dates in 2022 for 2 condemned killers.

Death row inmate Percy Hutton, of Cleveland, was sentenced to die for the 1985 slaying of Derek Mitchell in a dispute over a sewing machine.

The court on Friday scheduled Hutton to die on June 22, 2022.

Hutton's attorney, Michael Benza, argues the execution date shouldn't be scheduled because the 63-year-old Hutton still has federal appeals pending.

Death row prisoner Cedric Carter, of Cincinnati, was sentenced to die for the 1992 shooting of convenience store clerk Frances Messinger during a robbery.

The court scheduled an Aug. 24, 2022, execution date for Carter.

Cedric's attorney, Keith Yeazel, argues the 44-year-old Carter also still has appeals pending.

(source: Associated Press)

INDIANA:

Death penalty sought in Lebanon slaying

Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer announced Wednesday that the state would seek the death penalty against Zachariah Wright.

Prosecutors charged Wright, 20, on June 26, with allegedly murdering Lebanon resident Max Foster, and severely injuring his wife, Sonja Foster, as they slept in their Lebanon home on Father's Day morning.

In all, prosecutors charged Wright with 23 crimes.

"When someone commits this type of crime he should have to face the ultimate penalty, which, in the State of Indiana, is a sentence of death," Meyer said.

Meyer said he spoke to Foster's family, presented the case to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Council's capital litigation committee, and spoke with the Indiana Attorney General's Office before coming to the decision to seek the death penalty against Wright.

In a death penalty case, aggravating factors often determine the state's course of action.

Meyer highlighted 5 aggravating factors that helped make the decision.

When Wright allegedly committed the murder, the 19-year-old was on probation for committing a felony; he allegedly committed murder while attempting to commit arson; he allegedly committed murder while attempting to commit burglary that resulted in death; he allegedly committed murder while committing a burglary that resulted in serious injury to Sonja Foster; and he allegedly committed murder while attempting to commit rape.

"The crimes this defendant is alleged to have committed are horrific and serve as everyone's worst nightmare," Meyer said. "Being awakened in your home, in the middle of the night, to find an intruder standing over you armed with a knife."

Copies of the death sentence request were sent to the Indiana Attorney General, the Indiana Supreme Court Administrator, and Allan Reid, Wright's counsel.

Trial is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 4 in Boone Superior Court I. Wright is being held in the Boone County Jail without bond.

(source: flyergroup.com)

TENNESSEE:

Holly Bobo trial verdict: Guilty verdict for Zachary Adams in 2011 slaying

The man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a Tennessee nursing student has been found guilty of murder and aggravated rape in the 2011 slaying of Holly Bobo.

Zachary Adams, 33, has been standing trial in Savannah, Tenn. in the slaying of 20-year-old Holly Bobo, who vanished from her Parsons home on April 13, 2011. 2 ginseng hunters found her remains 3 1/2 years later in woods in Decatur County, about 100 miles southwest of Nashville.

A sequestered jury of 6 men and 6 women who heard the case in a Savannah courthouse began deliberating Thursday afternoon, the trial's 10th day. Judge C. Creed McGinley moved the trial to Hardin County in search of an unbiased jury.

The same jury will decide if Adams will get the death penalty.

Bobo's brother Clint testified that on the day of his sister's disappearance, he saw an unidentified man wearing camouflage leading her into woods behind the family's home. Prosecutors said Adams was involved in the "dark world" of methamphetamine and morphine when he and 2 other men abducted Bobo, held her against her will, raped her, killed her and hid her remains.

In his closing argument Thursday, prosecutor Paul Hagerman said the testimony of star witness Jason Autry pointed to Adams' guilt. Autry testified he helped Adams move what he thought was Bobo's body wrapped in a blanket, and when she moved -- indicating she was still alive -- acted as a lookout as Adams shot her by the Tennessee River.

"She was never gonna come out of that blanket alive, not a chance," Hagerman said. "[Autry] knew just how guilty he was, just how guilty they all were - and for years, he kept his secret."

Hagerman said Autry came clean to investigators in late 2016. Autry and Adams' brother, John Dylan Adams, also are charged with kidnapping, raping and killing Bobo. A 4th man, Shayne Austin, was also charged in the case. Austin was found dead in a Florida hotel room in what police said was an apparent suicide in February 2015.

In his closing argument, Hagerman said it was Austin who walked with Bobo into the woods. Then Austin and the Adams brothers raped Bobo in Austin's grandmother's barn, Hagerman said.

The names of all 4 men had surfaced early in the investigation, Hagerman said, but a former Tennessee Bureau of Investigation lead detective became convinced a sex offender was responsible for the killing and "didn't listen" to the clues that pointed to Adams as the killer.

Hagerman pointed to incriminating statements Adams made to friends and jail inmates about Bobo.

Friend Anthony Phoenix used an expletive to describe how Adams told him that he "couldn't have picked" a prettier woman. Christopher Swift said Adams asked him if God would forgive him for the "Holly killing," while they were both jailed together.

Jason Autry identifies Zachery Adams during his testimony on day 5 of the Holly Bobo murder trial, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in Savannah, Tenn. Autry and Adams' brother, John Dylan Adams, also face charges of kidnapping, rape and murder in the case.

He also referenced a gun in Bobo's killing months before her remains were found and her cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound to the head, Hagerman said.

But a defense attorney countered in a more than 2-hour closing argument that the state's case is "absolutely full of holes" and is based on "non-evidence" against her client. Jennifer Thompson said Autry made up a story 3 years after his 2014 arrest and "sold" it to the government in hopes of avoiding the death penalty.

Hagerman argued that Autry's story had been "corroborated, corroborated, and corroborated again" by testimony. But Thompson said Autry already knew of evidence accumulated in the case and could have used that to pepper his story with elements of truth. She said Autry was too street smart to allow himself to be manipulated into helping Adams dispose of Bobo's body even though he says he wasn't involved in the rape, abduction or murder.

She said a rational person "wouldn't automatically put themselves in the middle of a murder with a dead body if they don't have to."

Thompson said there's no question that people involved in the case are "talkers" and noted that Adams was a meth user.

"Zach Adams has said some stupid things over the years," Thompson said. "That does not mean he killed Holly Bobo."

Bobo's family was in court throughout the emotional trial. Bobo's mother Karen at one point collapsed, sobbing, as she testified.

Bobo's father was seen putting his arm around his wife during Hagerman's closing statement Thursday.

(source: CBS News)

KENTUCKY:

Sizemore seeks to move murder trial

Attorneys representing Raleigh Sizemore Jr., charged with the murder of Richmond police officer Daniel Ellis, have asked to have his trial moved out of Madison County.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Sizemore and co-defendant Gregory Ratliff. Police say Sizemore shot Ellis in the head inside Ratliff's apartment, after Ellis and other officers came to the apartment searching for suspects in an attempted robbery.

Attorneys Joanne Lynch and Teresa Whitaker presented the motion for the change of venue Friday in Madison Circuit Court, asserting that Sizemore will be unable to receive a fair trial in Madison County. Prosecutors in the case will now craft their response before Judge William Clouse will make a ruling, Madison County Commonwealth's Attorney David Smith said.

The attorneys cited the vast and widespread media coverage of the case as a reason for the request. In addition to local and state news outlets, national media outlets including NBC, CBS, the Washington Post and the Daily Mail of London all carried stories of Ellis' death, the motion states.

In addition, the attorneys state they hired an expert who conducted a survey of Madison County and found nearly 2/3 of potential jurors in the county believe Sizemore is guilty, and almost 1/2 of the potential jurors believe he should receive the death penalty.

The community's response to Ellis' death also lends credence to the argument of Sizemore being unable to receive a fair trial in Madison County, the attorney's assert. Their motion cites several examples of the community's response, including the naming of U.S. 25 after Ellis, numerous displays throughout the community, and fundraisers held for his family.

Changes in venue are sometimes granted in cases where the judge determines publicity of the case has made it likely jurors will be unable to remain partial. But having a change of venue granted is rare, the Los Angeles Times reported in a February 2015 story.

The story quotes Daniel Medwed, a professor of criminal law at Northeastern School of Law in Boston.

"The general idea is that there is a strong presumption in keeping a trial where the crime occurred," Medwed said.

Attorneys representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who in 2013 planted bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing 3 people and injuring hundreds, tried unsuccessfully to get his trial moved out of the Boston area due to publicity.

Tsarnaev was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty.

However, trials involving state rather than federal charges are more easily moved, the Los Angeles Times story states. One famous case in which a change of venue was granted is the 1992 state trial of 4 Los Angeles police officers charged in the 1991 beating of Rodney King. In that trial, jurors in nearby Ventura County acquitted 3 of the 4 officers and deadlocked on the 4th.

Sizemore, 36, is charged with murder (police officer), 2 counts of attempted murder for allegedly shooting at the officers who came to Ellis' aid, 1st-degree unlawful imprisonment for holding a 3rd person involved hostage as Ellis searched an apartment for the suspect, 2 counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun; attempted 1st-degree robbery; and 2 counts of being a 1st-degree persistent felony offender.

Ratliff faces charges of complicity to murder (police officer), 2 counts of complicity to attempted murder (police officer) and complicity to unlawful imprisonment.

Their Madison County trial was scheduled for July 2018.

Another person in the case, who drove Sizemore to the location where the attempted robbery allegedly occurred, was sentenced in August to 4 year on charges of 1st-degree wanton endangerment, bail jumping and 2nd-degree complicity to burglary.

Sizemore and Ratliff are scheduled to appear in court for their next status hearings on Oct. 27.

(source: The Richmond Register)

********************************

Butler double murder suspect returns to court

A Butler County man accused of fatally shooting a retired minister and his wife returned to court Thursday with a new defense team that has filed several motions on his behalf.

Kevin Dye, 35, of Morgantown, appeared in Butler Circuit Court for a pretrial conference in his case. He is charged with 2 counts of murder, convicted felon in possession of a handgun and receiving stolen property (firearm).

Dye is accused of killing Kenneth Neafus, 71, and his wife, Dorothy, 70.

Kenneth Neafus was a pastor at Little Muddy Cumberland Presbyterian Church before retiring several years ago.

The couple were found dead Aug. 9, 2016, at their Richland Church Road home.

If convicted as charged, Dye could face the death penalty.

Dye is being represented by Bowling Green attorneys Currie and Wesley Milliken, who Dye's family retained in place of capital trial public defenders from the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy.

Since becoming Dye's attorneys last month, the Millikens have filed motions to move the case out of Butler County, remove the death penalty as a possible punishment and have separate juries determine Dye's guilt or innocence and to determine his punishment, if he is found guilty.

Special Judge Janet Crocker, who was appointed to preside over the case after Butler Circuit Judge Tim Coleman recused himself, did not rule on those motions but granted a defense motion to have the Department of Public Advocacy continue providing investigative services for Dye.

The change of venue motion argues that the Neafuses' standing in the community and publicity of the case through news coverage prevents Dye from receiving fair trial in Butler or any adjoining counties.

"The Neafuses had had a profound impact on numerous people's lives considering all of the churches Mr. Neafus had pastored and all of the counseling and community involvement he and his wife had been ... involved in," the motion said. "It will be virtually impossible to find anyone in Butler County, Kentucky, that had not heard about, read about and/or formed an opinion about this case in light of all the circumstances surrounding it."

4 people who live, work or attend church in Butler County have given affidavits supporting the Millikens' bid to move the trial, court records show.

In the motion to remove the death penalty as an option, Dye's attorneys argue that Kentucky's death penalty statute is unconstitutional and that Dye, who his attorneys say in court filings "has been profoundly deaf since birth," qualifies as being intellectually disabled, which would make the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment to impose against him.

A transcriptionist from the state Administrative Office of the Courts has been present at court hearings to enable Dye to follow the proceedings, allowing him to read typed transcripts of each hearing.

Dye's defense team also wants a separate jury empaneled for the penalty phase of the case if Dye is convicted.

To support their motion, the attorneys cite academic studies that conclude that a substantial proportion of Kentucky capital jurors reach a decision on punishment before hearing evidence about aggravating and mitigating factors during the penalty phase.

(source: Bowling Green Daily News)

NEBRASKA:

Alleged murderer in court: I killed that man

The man accused in the August stabbing death of a Norfolk man at an apartment complex must undergo a competency evaluation before his case can continue.

Rodolfo Castaneda-Morejon, 48, appeared in Madison County District Court here for arraignment Friday afternoon with his court-appointed interpreter Izabel Chavez and Madison County Public Defender Matthew Headley.

During court proceedings, Castenada-Morejon said through Chavez, "I killed that man because of a ..." and was then cut off by Headley.

The unexpected outburst came after Judge Mark Johnson heard a request from Headley that his client have a competency evaluation done - based on Headley's previous conversations with Castaneda-Morejon.

Johnson asked the defendant if he understood what Headley had requested. That's when Castaneda-Morejon began to speak in open court against his attorney's advisement.

Castaneda-Morejon has been charged with 1st-degree murder, a Class 1 or 1A felony. If he is found guilty, the charge carries a potential penalty of either life imprisonment or the death penalty. The death penalty would have to be sought by the prosecuting attorney if the crime was found to have been aggravated in nature.

He was also charged with use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, which carries a possible sentence of 1-50 years in prison.

The charges stem from an incident in August in which Yosvanis Velazquez-Gomez, 39, was stabbed to death at his apartment building at 904 Syracuse Ave. in Norfolk. Velazquez-Gomez was found lying on the ground behind the building.

Court records indicate Castaneda-Morejon, who turned himself into police shortly after the stabbing, was found with blood on his arm and clothing.

A subsequent search of Castaneda-Morejon's apartment he shared with his girlfriend - located in the same building as the victim's apartment - turned up a large knife inside a sheath. The blade of the knife was found to have a significant amount of dried blood on it.

In court Friday, Johnson did order a competency evaluation be administered to Castaneda-Morejon before any further hearings take place. The psychologist administering the test will take a look at multiple factors, Johnson said.

The evaluation will be used to determine if the defendant understands he's in an court of law charged with a criminal offense; if he realizes there's a judge on the bench; if he understands there is a prosecutor present who will try to convict him of a criminal charge and that there is a lawyer to defend him; if he has minimum contact with reality; and if he has the minimum intelligence required to grasp the matter at hand, as well as many other factors.

"Arraignment will be continued until such time the competency evaluation will be completed and the court makes a determination after receiving such report whether or not Mr. Castaneda-Morejon has the mental ability to move forward on the charges," Johnson said.

(source: Norfolk Daily News)

CALIFORNIA:

Questions about alternate juror's conduct delay sentencing for man convicted of murdering Newport retiree

Sentencing for a man convicted of killing a 77-year-old Newport Beach retiree in 1981 has been delayed until Nov. 17 after allegations surfaced that an alternate juror discussed details of the case at a nail salon.

An Orange County Superior Court jury in May found James Andrew Melton, 65, of Los Angeles guilty of 1st-degree murder for seducing and strangling Anthony DeSousa in what prosecutors contended was a plot to steal from him.

Melton was expected to be sentenced Sept. 15. He could face life in prison without possibility of parole.

However, Judge Gregg Prickett delayed the sentencing after a court clerk reported overhearing 1 of the 4 alternate jurors discussing the case mid-trial in May while getting her nails done at a Fountain Valley salon, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen McGreevy.

McGreevy declined to disclose specifics of what the clerk reportedly overheard.

Jurors are prohibited from discussing a case with anyone until the trial is over. They also are not permitted to discuss the case with other jurors until deliberations begin.

1 of the 2 female alternate jurors is expected to appear before Prickett on Sept. 29 to discuss whether she spoke about the case.

The hearing is an effort by the court to ensure that Melton received a fair trial. Prickett will have the woman relay what information, if any, she discussed with other jurors. She was not present for the deliberations.

The other female alternate appeared in court Sept. 15 to discuss whether she had spoken about the case during the trial. She said she did not recall doing so, McGreevy said.

"I do believe Mr. Melton received his day in court and a fair trial," McGreevy said.

Melton's defense attorney, Denise Gragg, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

The issue of possible juror misconduct isn't the 1st speed bump in the case, which spans 3 decades.

In 1982, a jury convicted Melton and sentenced him to death for the killing. He was awaiting execution at San Quentin State Prison when a federal judge threw out his conviction in 2007.

U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi ruled Melton was too heavily medicated on psychiatric drugs during his trial to understand the proceedings or participate in his defense.

After a new trial was ordered, the Orange County district attorney's office decided not to seek the death penalty.

In the 2014 retrial, a jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting Melton of murder.

His 3rd trial began May 1.

(source: Los Angeles Times)

USA:

Feds indict Four Corner Hustlers for 6 murders, sweeping conspiracy

Federal prosecutors announced a sweeping racketeering indictment against a Chicago street gang late Thursday afternoon, tying 9 Four Corner Hustlers to a decades-long conspiracy that led to the murders of 6 people.

Labar "Bro Man" Spann is accused of participating in all 6 slayings, including the June 2003 murder of Latin Kings gangster Rudy "Kato" Rangel, whose death inspired the track "A 'Yo Kato" by rapper DMX.

Some of the defendants named in the indictment - including Spann - could face the death penalty. 11 have been indicted in all, with 2 being charged in an extortion conspiracy. The 22-page document was handed down by a grand jury last week but not unsealed until several of the defendants could be arrested and brought to court.

Among those charged are Sammie "Sam Bug" Booker, Tremayne "Scarface" Thompson, Juhwun Foster, Marchello "Chello" Devine, Rontrell "Mane Mane" Turnipseed, Keith "Lil' Keith" Chatman, Stevon "Tito" Sims, Deandre "12" Spann, Mikal Jones and Antonio "Lil' Chello" Devine.

The murders alleged in the indictment took place in 2000 and 2003. The victims, in addition to Rangel, are Carlos Caldwell, Maximillion McDaniel, Levar Smith, George King and Willie Woods.

The feds say the Four Corner Hustlers also spent decades - from the mid-1990s until this year - committing robberies, extortion and batteries. They allegedly dealt drugs, robbed rivals and used violence and intimidation to stop victims and witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement.

The gang used police scanners to avoid detection and even outfitted its members with a security detail, the feds say. They allegedly conducted surveillance of their victims and used rental cars to cover their tracks.

The gang operated in West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park on the West Side, and in the former LeClaire Courts public housing development on the Southwest Side.

Spann has previously been acquitted of Rangel's murder and is already facing serious time in federal prison. He pleaded guilty in June to a federal weapons charge after shooting a gun at a west suburban firing range and then bragging about it on Instagram.

Spann has a string of felony convictions dating back to 1996 that meant he wasn't lawfully allowed to handle the weapon.

"Y'all know I had to go first just to show my b - how this sh- work lmao I do this shis," Spann wrote in one Instagram caption.

Spann also pleaded guilty to 3 obstruction of justice charges for persuading 1 of his companions, Ladonah Hampton, to tell a federal grand jury that Spann never fired the gun, even though she earlier told authorities he had.

Spann faces up to 70 years in prison for that case alone. His sentencing has been set for Oct. 4.

(source: Chicago Sun-Times)

IRAN----executions

8 People Hanged in Various Iranian Prisons

A total of 8 prisoners were reported hanged in various Iranian prisoners. Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and the state-run media, have not announced these 8 executions.

According to close sources, on Tuesday September 19, a prisoner was reportedly hanged at Khorramabad Central Prison on murder charges. The prisoner has been identified as Mohammad Haji Sabzali. Mohammad was reportedly arrested and sentenced to death 6 years ago. On the morning of Wednesday September 20, another prisoner was hanged at this prison on murder charges. The name of the prisoner is not known at this time.

According to the human rights news agency, HRANA, on the morning of Monday September 18, a prisoner was hanged at Broujerd Central Prison on murder charges. The prisoner has been identified as Hossein Dalvand.

According to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network and sources close to Iran Human Rights, on the morning of Monday September 19, three prisoners were hanged at Tabriz Central Prison. These 3 prisoners were reportedly transferred to solitary confinement on Sunday in preparation for their executions. The prisoners have been identified as Sina Assadzah and Ahad Pourtaghi, sentenced to death on murder charges, and Yousef Ebrahmi. "Yousef Ebrahimi was in prison for 20 years on murder and sodomy charges. He was able to gain forigiveness from the complainants on his case file regarding the murder charge, but he was executed on sodomy charges.

According to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, on the morning of Wednesday September 20, two prisoners were hanged at Qazvin Central Prison on drug related charges. The 2 prisoners have been identified as Teyb Hajizadeh and Mojtaba Rahmati. Teyb and Mojtaba were transferred to solitary confinement on Tuesday night in preparation for their executions.

Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and the state-run media, have not announced any of these executions. The recent wave of executions in Iran may be related to the upcoming Muslim holy month of Muharram. During Muharram, the rate of executions in Iran significantly decreases.

Close sources have also reported on a prisoner by the name of Massoud Joodaki, who was taken to solitary confinement on Saturday September 16 in preparation for his execution. Massou Joodaki, who is on death row on drug related charges, was reportedly returned to his cell after his execution was stayed.

*******************

5 Executions in Kerman Province Including 1 in Public

adollah Movahed, the head of the Judiciary in Kerman, has reported on 5 executions in Iran, including 1 in public.

According to the state-run news agency, Mehr, Yadollah Movahed announced the execution of 5 prisoners in the province of Kerman who are "agents of insecurity and evil".

"In the past several days, the execution sentences for 5 prisoners, who are agents of insecurity and evil, were carried out in the eastern and southern parts of the Kerman province for various charges, including Moharebeh, armed robbery, kidnapping, and murder. They were executed after they were convicted and the course of legal proceedings," says Yadollah Movahed.

Mr. Movahed did not indicate the exact dates of the executions, the exact charges of the prisoners, or the names of the prisoners. No other Iranian state-run news agencies have reported on these 5 executions.

The lack of transparency regarding executions in Iran and the closed space for human rights activists have raised concerns that the real number of executions in Iran are much higher than those recorded by human rights activists.

***********************************

4 Prisoners Executed at Rajai Shahr Prison

4 prisoners were reportedly hanged at Rajai Shahr Prison on murder charges. According to close sources, the prisoners were executed on Wednesday September 20.

Iran Human Rights has been able to identify 1 of the prisoners so far: Saman Mohammadian, imprisoned for approximately 7 years before he was executed.

These four prisoners were among a group of 13 who were transferred to solitary confinement on Saturday September 16 in preparation for their executions. The other prisoners were returned to their cells after receiving an extension or forgiveness from the complainants on their case files. One of the prisoners who was returned to his cell is Mojtaba Ghiasvand. "Mojtaba Ghiasvand was sentenced to death on murder charges, but he had repeatedly insisted on his innocence, " an informed source tells Iran Human Rights.

Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and state-run media, have not announced these 4 executions.

************************

Man Executed on Murder Charges

A prisoner was reportedly hanged at Karaj Central Prison on murder charges. According to the state-run news agency, the execution of a prisoner who was only identified as "Abbas" was carried out on September 20.

(source for all: Iran Human Rights)

SCOTLAND:

Hanged at Barlinnie: It took just 66 seconds to end life of serial killer Peter Manuel

NOTORIOUS serial killer Peter Manuel features in the latest of our special series on Barlinnie: The men who were hanged and their crimes.

A total of 10 judicial executions by hanging took place at HMP Barlinnie between 1946 and 1960, replacing the gallows at Duke Street Prison. This was before the death penalty was abolished in the UK in 1969. All the executions took place at 8am. The public executioners during that time were Thomas Pierrepoint, Albert Pierrepoint and Harry Allen. The remains of all executed prisoners were the property of the state. They were buried in unmarked graves within the walls of the prison. During renovations at the prison in 1997, Barlinnie's gallows cell, which was built into D-hall, was finally demolished and the remains of all the executed prisoners were exhumed for reburial elsewhere. This is the story of Peter Manuel who was executed by Harry Allen on July 11, 1958. His hanging was the second last at Barlinnie and followed John Lyon, Patrick Carraher, John Caldwell, Paul Christopher Harris, James Robertson, James Smith, Patrick Gallagher Deveney and George Francis Shaw.

The Beast of Birkenshaw Peter Manuel is perhaps the most notorious criminal in our series on the men who were hanged at Barlinnie. The terror which he reigned on communities of Lanarkshire is a story that has been passed from generation to generation, and ultimately his hanging at Barlinnie prevented him from continuing to inflict the level of violence that he did on his innocent victims who included a young boy of 10 years old.

Manuel was born to Scottish parents in New York City on March 13, 1927 but his family returned back to their native Scotland when he was 5 in 1932.

He came to the attention of the authorities at a young age in the Lanarkshire area of Birkenshaw where he grew up. He was a petty thief and at the age of 16, he committed several sex attacks which resulted in him being handed a stretch of nine years in Peterhead Prison.

Prior to the start of his killing spree, he also successfully conducted his own defence on a rape charge at Airdrie Sheriff Court in 1955.

But the early charges and prison sentences on his rap sheet were only the start of things to come.

He was responsible for killing Anne Kneillands, 17, Marion Watt, 45, Vivienne Watt, 16, Margaret Brown, 42, Isabelle Cooke, 17, Peter Smart, 45, Doris Smart, 42, and Michael Smart, 10.

Manuel, however, only went to the gallows at Barlinnie Prison convicted of 7 murders. The case against him for Anne Kneillands was dropped due to insufficient evidence. It is also believed he was responsible for many more killings.

On January 2, 1956, Anne Kneilands left her home in East Kilbride to go on a date but the teenager never got there. Her body was found 2 days later on a golf course in East Kilbride. Her head had been split open and police established she had been running in terror from her attacker.

9 months later, vicious Manuel struck again at the home in High Burnside, Rutherglen, of master baker William Watt.

Mr Watt had gone on a fishing holiday to Lochgilphead, but his wife Marion, 45, their daughter Vivienne, 16, and Mrs Watt's sister Margaret Brown were still at home. Manuel broke in and shot all 3 as they slept.

Manuel, however, was not the chief suspect for the triple killing - it was Mr Watt. The family man even spent 67 days locked up in Barlinnie while police investigated.

Manuel was also soon in Barlinnie serving a sentence for housebreaking. When he was released in November 1957 he travelled to Newcastle to look for work, and he killed taxi driver Sydney Dunn. His responsibility for this death was determined by a coroner's jury after Manuel was hanged.

When he returned to Glasgow just before Christmas, the pace of his killings quickened.

On December 28, Isabelle Cooke left her house in Mount Vernon to meet her boyfriend in Uddingston. She was Manuel's next victim and originally the Evening Times reported on her as a missing woman until her body was discovered.

It was actually Manuel who led police to the spot near Uddingston where he had buried her, he told them: "I think she is here. I think I'm standing on her now."

He struck again on January 1, 1958 when he broke into a house in Sheepburn Road, Uddingston, occupied by Peter Smart, his wife Doris and their son Michael.

He killed all 3 with a Webley revolver and, in the days that followed, popped back into the house to feed the family cat and help himself to the remains of the festive turkey.

He even drove Mr Smart's car, but his downfall came when it was found the serial numbers of bank notes he had used in a pub matched those paid to Mr Smart just before New Year.

Manuel's trial was a sensation - he became the 1st person in Scotland to sack his legal team and defend himself in a murder trial.

But he ultimately played the price for the cruel acts he committed, and at one minute past eight on July 11, 1958 Manuel at 31 was hanged on the gallows of Barlinnie.

The Evening Times reported: "As the hands of the prison clock pointed to the execution hour, fewer than a dozen people stood silently outside the prison. There was no demonstration, no protest by opponents of capital punishment, as the final act was carried out 'under the due process of law'."

The reported continued: "Outside the prison there was nothing to show that the execution had taken place. There was no notice posted on the gates - that practice ended with the new homicide act."

Manuel's family home in Fourth Street, Birkenshaw was empty on the day of execution. We reported that his parents had left days before with a relative.

Prior to his execution by Harry Allen, the warders who looked after Manuel were increased from two to three after he attempted suicide on June 20 by swallowing disinfectant powder while a warder was cleaning his cell.

But his attempt did not deter his path to the hangman. We reported: "At the appointed time the executioner entered the condemned cell, pinioned Manuel's arms behind his back, and led him the few paces to the scaffold in the next cell.

"A white cap was placed over Manuel's head, followed by the noose. A lever was pulled and the trap door dropped.

"Less than 66 seconds had elapsed since the hangman entered the cell.

"2 doctors pronounced life extinct. Immediately Manuel's body was taken to an unoccupied cell below the execution chamber."

His reign of terror was over, and in that moment Manuel's went down as one of Scotland's most notorious serial killers.

(source: eveningtimes.co.uk)

GAMBIA:

Gambia pledges to abolish death penalty

The Gambia has pledged to abolish the death penalty in a clean break with the former regime of Yahya Jammeh, giving activists hope that more African states will follow its example.

President Adama Barrow, elected in December 2016, signed a UN treaty on the abolition of capital punishment following his maiden speech at the world body's general assembly, the government said in a press release Thursday.

"By signing the treaties, the new Gambia continues to promote democracy and show the commitment of the state to protect lives of political activists," the statement said, referring to 4 other treaty pledges on issues including forced disappearances.

Jammeh, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years until being forced from power after losing to Barrow, executed 9 soldiers in 2012 and threatened to expand a list of capital crimes in 2015 in response to what he said was a rising crime rate.

Francophone west African nations such as Benin, Congo Republic and Guinea have all made steps to ending the death penalty in recent years.

But English-speaking countries in the region are lagging.

"This is a positive step forward for Gambia when just 5 years ago people on death row were tragically executed and abolition seemed a pipe dream. We hope Gambia will lead the way, as no Anglophone country in West Africa has yet abolished the death penalty," said Amnesty International West Africa researcher Sabrina Mahtani.

Although the UN has welcomed the Gambian pledge, the numbers executed in the country's once-notorious prisons are dwarfed by those who were forcibly disappeared, a figure that runs into the dozens, according to the authorities.

The government statement claimed the move - which must still be ratified - "will remove fear and promote rule of law for citizens to express their civil and political rights."

The treaty - formally named the "Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty" - has been ratified by 85 member states of the UN so far.

(source: The Independent)

INDIA:

High court confirms death for man who murdered his 2 children, in-laws

Ramesh Naik, a former manager at Punjab National Bank, was convicted of killing his children by drowning them in a pond near Panaje in Puttur taluk, Dakshina Kannada district.

The High Court of Karnataka has confirmed the death penalty given by a lower court to a former bank manager for murdering his 2 children, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Ramesh Naik, a former manager at Punjab National Bank, was convicted of killing his children by drowning them in a pond near Panaje in Puttur taluk, Dakshina Kannada district. Prior to that, Naik killed his mother-in-law Saraswathi and sister-in-law Savitha with whom he had an affair. Naik had helped Savitha get a job in Bengaluru. She allegedly became close to one of her colleagues. Naik disapproved of the purported liaison and killed Savitha as well as her mother in Tumakuru. He later went to his hometown and killed his children.

Public prosecutor Vijaykumar Majage told the court that Naik had no remorse for the murders. A division bench of Justices Ravi Malimath and John Michael Cunha confirmed the death sentence on Friday.

(source: Deccan Herald)

SEPTEMBER 22, 2017:

TEXAS:

Battaglia ruled competent for execution----Case sent back to lower court to schedule new date for lethal njection

An appeals court has found John Battaglia is mentally fit to be executed for killing his daughters, a punishment the Dallas man has twice tried to postpone.

Battaglia made national headlines in 2001 when he shot his daughters, 9-year-old Faith and 6-year-old Liberty, at his Deep Ellum loft while their mother listened on the phone.

"No, Daddy! Don't do it!" Faith pleaded, seconds before her father pulled the trigger in an act of revenge against his ex-wife.

He was first scheduled for execution in March 2016 but was granted a stay after he sought new legal counsel to help appeal his sentence.

His execution was rescheduled for December 2016 after a state district judge found Battaglia mentally fit to be put to death. But the Court of Criminal Appeals granted him a stay to evaluate his competency.

The appeals courted Wednesday that Battaglia is mentally fit and the Dallas County trial court can set a new execution date.

Court records show Battaglia is "convinced that hsi trial and conviction were a sham" and that his death sentence is part of a conspiracy involving "the KKK, child molesters and homosexual lawyers."

Mental health experts testified during a competency hearing in November that Battaglia was likely faking or exaggerating his delusions in order to save his life.

The appeals court affirmed that assessment and supported the trial court's ruling of competence.

"There is support in the record that Battaglia is malingering," Justice Bert Richardson wrote in the appeals court finding.

Justice Elsa Alcala was the lone dissenting voice. She wrote in her dissent that the case should be snet back to the trial court for further clarity.

A defendant should not be executed when he "lacks a rational understanding of the reason for his execution due to delusions stemming from a severe mental illness," Alcala wrote.

(source: Dallas Morning News)

*********************

Confronting the Truth About My Friend on Death Row

[This article was published in collaboration with the Marshall Project.]

On November 3, 2000, a 22-year-old woman named Amy Kitchen went out for dinner at the El Rancho restaurant in Dallas, Texas, with her father, Jerry, and her fiancee, James Mosqueda.

I often try to imagine what that meal was like: Amy chatting with her dad about the classes she was taking in nursing school, the plans she had to go shopping with her mother the next day. Her dad giving her some money to spend; he always had a weakness for his only girl. James, 27, leaning back, sipping a beer. A waitress arriving.

It would have been an evening like any other - except for the fact that it was the couple's last.

Later that same night, the state of Texas says, James's cousin, Ivan Cantu - motivated by his relative's drug debt and his own greed and jealousy - killed Amy and James in an execution-style double murder. He is now on death row, and for 13 years I have been his loyal friend.

I never planned to be in this situation, to be friends with someone who could be executed. I live the mundane life of a working mother in Washington, DC - packing lunches, taking the bus to work, attending meetings, reading stories to my child at night, and, usually, falling asleep before 10.

But back in 2004, I had been inspired by progressive Catholics to reach out to someone on death row. So I answered a plea from the Community of Sant'Egidio, a worldwide Catholic prayer and charity organization, to write a letter of solidarity to a mentally-disabled death row prisoner named Johnny Paul Penry. It was part of a campaign to overturn his sentence for a 1979 rape and murder.

Johnny wrote back - and so did Ivan. They lived in adjacent "pods," as they are called on Texas' death row, the Polunsky Unit. Ivan would help Johnny write letters, but he was looking for his own friends on the outside, too.

It was mainly out of pity that I replied to Ivan. I never would have guessed where it's led me.

His letters and cards now fill a Rubbermaid container nestled into a bookshelf beside my bed. Just a stack of words on paper, they are also a chronicle of the past 13 years: descriptions to him of my travels as a development consultant; his accounts to me of trying to get innocence projects, journalists, and attorneys to listen to his case. The birth of my son. His struggle to live alone 23 hours a day.

Ivan is 44; I'm 42. He and I write once or twice a month, and there is not a letter I receive in which he doesn't encourage me in some way, and ask how my son and husband are. I count on his letters and, he says, he counts on mine. He also says there's a picture of my family, which I sent him years ago, taped to the wall of his cell.

Ivan pleaded not guilty and has consistently maintained he's innocent. I've always believed his story, but only because I had no reason not to. It didn't cost me anything, and I knew it would cost him everything if he really were innocent and no one listened. I never asked too much about the murders, never wanting to delve into that darkness.

That is, not until now. With Ivan's execution approaching - he lost his federal appeal in June, and if Texas has its way, he'll probably be executed within a year - there's nothing left to lose.

Last year, when the court published a denial of Ivan's previous appeal, I asked his wife, Tammy, to send me everything: the trial transcript, the crime scene photos, the legal documents, Ivan's side of the story and any documentation from the investigations.

I knew that immersing myself in the details of the crime would mean trying to understand both sides, asking tough questions, and entertaining possibilities about Ivan that I'd never allowed myself to. When I sat in my living room, watching my son's face as he laughed at the cartoons on TV, I would think to myself, My child knows nothing about the world's brutality, so why am I inviting this dark story into our house? Why am I complicating our lives in this way?

But when the material arrived (a thumb drive along with printed documents), I started devouring all of it whenever I could - during my crowded bus rides home through downtown DC, and sitting up in bed, late into the night, after my son had gone to sleep.

I held a giant white binder and read from it, as if it were a movie script. I had to keep reminding myself that this happened - on a November evening in Dallas, all of this happened.

I am overwhelmed by all the evidence against Ivan. While there's no record of physical evidence proving that he was at the crime sceneóno fingerprints, no shoe prints, no DNA - the crime scene was all over him. Jeans and socks with the victims' blood on them, found in Ivan's trashcan; James's Corvette found parked in front of Ivan's apartment the day after the murder.

But the person presented at trial doesn't match the one I know: a friendly and intelligent man who cuts out New Yorker cartoons and tapes them to his typewritten letters.

The philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich once wrote, "Doubt is not the opposite of faith. It is one element of faith." Perhaps cultivating doubt in Ivan's story is part of having faith in him.

Last August, I visited Ivan on death row and asked him if he committed this crime. His response was immediate: "Oh my goodness, no," he replied, solemnly. "But I know you have to ask that, I get it."

He spoke rapidly during our hours together, anxiety and desperation pervading his words and gestures. He talked openly about the crime, who could have done it and why, and what he believes still needs to be investigated. And because we are friends, we also talked about the mundane: music, books, NPR shows, anything to get his mind off the bleakness of solitary confinement.

I left the prison that day shaken. I don't believe in the death penalty, and even if he is guilty, I don't think he should die. I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of saving Ivan's life while knowing at the same time how little I could actually do.

And I was still unsure about the truth.

(source: Dani Clark is a writer and editor at an international development organization in Washington, DC. ---- vice.com)

GEORGIA----impending execution

Keith Tharpe's Scheduled Execution Tests Our Nation's Tolerance for the Death Penalty's Racial Bias

In 1991, a jury in Jones County, Georgia, sentenced Keith Tharpe, a Black man, to death for the murder of his sister-in-law. Seven years later, Tharpe's defense counsel met with a white juror on Tharpe's trial as part of their routine investigation of the case. The juror explained to the lawyers why he voted for his client's death, and then reviewed, edited, and signed a sworn statement, which set out his views of race and Tharpe:

I have observed there are 2 types of Black people: 1. Black folks and 2. Niggers. For example, some of them who hang around our little store act up and carry on. I tell them, "nigger, you better straighten up or get out of here fast."

I felt Tharpe who wasn't in the "good" black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did. . . .

After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls. Integration started in Genesis. I think they are wrong. For example, look at O.J. Simpson. That white woman wouldn't have been killed if she hadn't married that black man.

The defense lawyers filed the juror's signed statement in court the next day.

Only a unanimous jury can convict and impose a death sentence in Georgia, and the law has long recognized that misconduct by a single juror requires reversal. The juror's stunning admission of racially biased views, including his view of the defendant, should have led to a hearing and a new trial. Instead, Tharpe faces possible execution next Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

In what threatens to be a grave miscarriage of justice, no court has ever considered the testimony about this misconduct. The federal courts must act now under the law's constitutional promise of equality and fairness and reopen his case so that his claim of racial bias can finally be heard.

What should have happened in 1998 is that the then-elected prosecutor for the Ocmulgee District, Joseph Briley, and the Georgia attorney general should have responded to the juror's affidavit by announcing they would not tolerate racial bias in capital sentencing and agreeing that Tharpe should get a new trial.

Instead, counsel from the Georgia attorney general's office responded by trying to minimize the juror's statements and asking the court to ignore the bias. First, they went to see the juror the next day after reading his statements of racial bias and obtained a new statement. In this new statement, the juror did not deny what he said about Black people or Tharpe. Instead, he complained that the lawyers were not clear enough about their purpose in talking with him and that he had been drunk when he talked with the lawyers.

The state attorneys then came to court and argued that the racial bias of the juror should be irrelevant to Tharpe's death sentence because the law should not permit investigation into racial bias by jurors after the verdict. Unfortunately, this response was hardly surprising. Georgia's attorney general's office had years of practice defending racially tainted capital cases from Mr. Briley's office.

How do we know that capital prosecutions in Briley's office were contaminated by racial discrimination? He put it in writing.MO< In 1978, Briley wrote an "infamous" handwritten memo instructing the clerk's office on how to reduce the number of Black people and women on juries without detection. In other words, he explained how to discriminate and get away with it. He also repeatedly removed qualified Blacks from jury service in violation of the constitutional prohibition of using race in jury selection. Although it is notoriously difficult to show purposeful discrimination in jury selection because of the wide deference afforded to prosecutors, courts found that Briley's actions, in fact, met the high burden of proof required.

Halting Tharpe's execution today should be an easy call.

During his 20-year tenure between 1974 and 1994, Briley tried 33 capital cases - 24 of which were against Black defendants like Tharpe. In the cases with Black defendants, 90 % of the jurors Briley removed from serving in these capital cases were Black.

In Tharpe's case, the state court ruled that the noxious statements by the juror were inadmissible because the law protects jury verdicts as unimpeachable. In other words, even where there is smoking-gun proof that one or more jurors used racially biased decision-making, courts will not reopen jury verdicts. The state court denied the claim on the wrong theory that jurors should not be permitted to testify about how their racial bias affected the verdict.

This question - whether courts should revisit jury verdicts when presented with proof of racial bias by a juror in decision-making - was answered with a resounding yes earlier this year in the Supreme Court case, Pena-Rodriquez v. Colorado. In a 5-3 decision, the justices ruled that it "must become the heritage of our Nation to rise above the racial classifications that are so inconsistent with our commitment to the equal dignity of all persons."

Tharpe's appeals proceeded through state and federal courts without any court ever considering whether the juror's profoundly troubling remarks violated the Constitution. Even though Pena-Rodriguez makes clear that Tharpe should receive a hearing, halting his execution and reopening his federal case requires that he show extraordinary circumstances. The Supreme Court ruled in another case this year, Buck v. Davis, that the "noxious strain of racial prejudice" constituted extraordinary circumstances that required the reopening of federal habeas proceedings.

Halting Tharpe's execution today should be an easy call. Reopening his case and allowing a court to rule on the proof of racial taint by the juror in Tharpe's case is the only path forward commensurate with recognition of equal dignity of all. Keith Tharpe deserves a new trial before a jury of his peers. Otherwise, we will condone a criminal justice system that allows racial animus to influence matters of life and death.

(source: Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project----aclu.org)

**************************

Do Black People Even Have Souls?

Keith Tharpe is scheduled to be executed on September 26th in Georgia.

His conviction and death sentence are marred by racism.

During jury selection, a now-deceased juror named Barney Gattie swore he had "no preconceived notions about the case." Unfortunately, Mr. Gattie had very definite notions about black people.

Mr. Gattie's racist beliefs came to light after trial. When Tharpe's attorneys went to talk with him about the verdict, Mr. Gattie gave a sworn statement in which he outlined his thoughts about black people. According to Mr. Gattie, there are two kinds of black people: "black folks" and "ni**ers." Mr. Gattie explained that the victim's family were in the "black folks" category," adding "[i]f they had been the type [of black person] that Tharpe is ... then picking between life or death for Tharpe wouldn't have mattered so much. My feeling is, what would be the difference?... I felt Tharpe, who wasn't in the 'good' black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair."

Mr. Gattie later mused: "[a]fter studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls."

Let's dissect that for just a minute. A juror in a capital case proclaimed 1) the only lives that mattered were the "good" black people (as defined by him); 2) that the death penalty would not have mattered if the victim had been a black person in the "ni**er" category (as defined by him); 3) that the defendant was a black person in the "ni**er" category who therefore deserved the electric chair and 4) that unlike other people who presumably have souls,black people by virtue of their skin color may be soulless, a quality that is surely problematic when described by a person who purports to study the Bible.

Although Mr. Gattie later backed away from his statements and claimed he was drunk when he made them, the fact that he was on the jury and may have based even part of his punishment decision on race surely undermines the fairness of the proceedings. Importantly, no court has ever held a hearing to determine whether Mr. Gattie's racist views impacted the jury deliberation process or verdict. This means, of course, that racism could well have tainted the sentence.

In a capital case, the jury decides whether a defendant should receive the ultimate punishment of death. They are supposed to make that life-and-death decision by thinking about a whole host of factors relating to the crime and to the defendant. Race is not one of those factors. Indeed, race cannot be a factor.

We know that race is an insidious thing. It seems patently unfair that Mr. Tharpe could be executed based on a verdict by at least one juror who held such blatant contempt for black people in general, and who believed Mr. Tharpe should get the death penalty, in part, because he was a "ni**er".

Mr. Gattie's racist beliefs cast a large shadow over the reliability of Mr. Tharpe's death sentence. Georgia, which itself has been challenged time and again for its racist application of the death penalty, should stop Mr. Tharpe's execution. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the use of race as a factor for choosing death, ruling that "[s]ome toxins [such as racism] can be deadly in small doses." Unless his execution is stayed, Mr. Tharpe may become another example of just how deadly racism can be.

(source: Jessica Henry, Huffington Post)

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When racism lurks in the heart of a death penalty juror, does a killer deserve to live?

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" This single, sinister question, asked over a sepulchral-sounding musical score, was rhetorical; for after a dramatic pause and a malevolent cackle, the narrator smugly informed the audience: "The Shadow knows."

And so it was with this somber admonition on September 26, 1937, that the gritty, crime-fighting character dubbed "The Shadow," whose exploits had previously been limited to pulp fiction magazines, burst into American consciousness with his own radio program. The uber-successful 1st episode called "The Death House Rescue" would lead to a run of 664 more installments over 18 seasons.

Exactly 80 years later another story about a scheduled execution, this time one that is all too real, is playing out; but, unlike that 1st episode of "The Shadow," there is little chance of a tidy and fair resolution (much less "a death house rescue"). Indeed, absent an unlikely intervention, the state of Georgia will execute death row inmate Keith Tharpe by lethal injection on September 26, 2017.

Also, unlike the condemned man in "The Shadow's" fictional "Death House Rescue," no one is arguing that Tharpe is innocent. Nevertheless, Tharpe's attorneys argue he shouldn't be put to death because, as has been widely reported, after Tharpe's conviction and death sentence, Tharpe's lawyers secured a prejudice-laden sworn affidavit from a now-deceased juror by the name of Barney Gattie.

Despite having affirmed under oath during jury selection that he could be fair and impartial - as all jurors in a criminal case must - Gattie swore in his affidavit, that there are 2 kinds of black people in the world: "good black folks" and "ni**ers." Gattie attested that the victim's family in Tharpe's case belonged to this 1st group of black people whereas Tharpe belonged to the latter, and further, that this was precisely the warped logic he used to sentence Tharpe to death. Finally, as if these despicable admissions weren't sufficiently outrageous - and reason enough to commute Tharpe's death sentence to life without the possibility of parole, because it was so odiously and impermissibly tainted by race - Gattie's affidavit abominably asserts: "After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls."

Huge problem, right? Red flags and alarm bells are sounding all over, aren't they? Obviously a clear moral imperative exists to call off this 21st century style lynching? Nope. At least, not yet. And, given our increasingly prosecution-leaning, capital punishment-enabling Supreme Court, maybe not at all.

You see, according to asinine arguments advanced by blood-thirsty prosecutors - which thus far both state and federal courts have adopted - Gattie's vile and hateful comments were merely "racially insensitive offhand remarks." To fully wrap your mind around this deplorable position, all you have to do is take a break from reality and cue your favorite off-color, cringe-worthy soliloquy by Archie Bunker. (You remember that affable but avowedly racist, anti-Semitic television character from the '70s, don't you?).

Georgia prosecutors are basically arguing that, just like Archie Bunker, Gattie wasn't really such a bad guy, was he? If the bigoted but big-hearted Archie Bunker were a real person we would all, each and every one of us, surely trust him to be a fair and impartial juror . . . wouldn't we? Especially in the case of a black man on trial for his life?

Moreover, Georgia prosecutors are insisting Tharpe's death sentence remains kosher because, after the revolting details of his affidavit were revealed, Gattie subsequently tried to explain it all away by testifying he was drunk. Specifically, Gattie claimed he was inebriated - both on the day he initially spoke to Tharpe's defense team - and then, again, on the day he reviewed his racially tinged affidavit and signed it. Thus, not unlike The Shadow's power to "cloud men's minds," prosecutors in Georgia maintain as the actor/producer Mel Gibson (infamously) once did, that it was only because Gattie was wasted that he made his racially repugnant statements.

This is a tough sell - tougher even than that whole ridiculous Archie Bunker bit - because as the saying goes, "a drunken man's words are a sober man's thoughts" (or alternatively, as was commonly said in Latin many hundreds of years ago, "in vino, veritas"). Indeed, as Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist who specializes in alcohol addiction told ABC News at the time of Gibson's highly publicized highway rant: "People dredge up feelings and sentiments from somewhere deep in their brains, so what one says or does certainly reflects what's going on deep down. Alcohol can most definitely act as a truth serum - something that allows people to say what is truly on their mind."

And it is with that truism in mind, one that anyone who has ever been drunk before already knows, that we arrive full circle to the question that the Supreme Court of the United States will likely soon be forced to consider about the pending execution of Keith Tharpe: What evil lurked in the heart of Barney Gattie? The answer, of course, is hatred - and racism - as rank and real as it is repulsive. And you don't need to be The Shadow or even a Supreme Court justice to know that.

(source: Opinion; Stephen Cooper is a former D.C. public defender who worked as an assistant federal public defender in Alabama between 2012 and 2015. ----www.macon.com)

FLORIDA----impending execution

Inmate faces death penalty for double murder in 1983

Michael Lambrix is scheduled for execution at Florida State Prison 2 weeks from Thursday.

Lambrix was found guilty for a double murder in 1983, and the case has been filled with changing testimony, questions surrounding the only witness having sex with the state's investigator and a claim of self-defense.

Florida executed nearly 40 inmates between 2002 and 2016 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juries must be unanimous. It did not hear the appeal of a Jacksonville killer executed last month, who was sentenced by a non-unanimous jury.

It took 2 trials to convict Michael Lambrix of killing 2 people he just met in 1983. Lambrix turned down a plea deal at the time.

Lambrix claimed, "I was supposed to be intimidated by the threat of a death penalty, so I was going to plea out to 2nd degree and I would have gotten a sentence of 17 to 22 years, and I would have been out many years ago. But I wasn't going to plea to something I didn't do."

Lambrix has been on death row since a jury voted 10-2 and 8-4 for death. His case was final long before a 2002 US Supreme Court case called Ring, requiring unanimous juries.

Now, every non-unanimous death sentence in Florida since Ring will get a new sentencing hearing. But everyone sentenced before Ring is out of luck. The Florida Catholic Conference calls this occurrence arbitrary.

Ingrid Delgado of the Florida Catholic Conference asked, "Is that fair? This partial retroactivity is really uncommon. New laws are typically held retroactive for all, or retroactive for none."

There are other issues. No physical evidence linked Lambrix to the crime. The key witness against him had sex with the chief investigator. The question of sex came up at here at the Supreme Court in 2009, and so did Lambrix's claim of innocence.

In 2009, Assistant Attorney General Carol Ditmar stated, "The male victim he says was consistent with self-defense. He was hit on the head with a tire iron, but itís also consistent with 'I'm going to kill you until you are dead.'"

This is Lambrix's 3rd death warrant. It will likely be his last.

(source: WCTV news)

*******************

Urgent Action

FLORIDA EXECUTION RESET, INNOCENCE MAINTAINED

Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant were killed on 6 February 1983 and buried near the trailer home that Cary Michael Lambrix shared with Frances Smith. Michael Lambrix was charged with murder. His 1983 trial ended in a mistrial after the jury could not agree on a verdict. At retrial in 1984, the jury voted to convict him of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder and recommended the death penalty, by 10 votes to 2 for one murder and 8 to 4 for the other. Michael Lambrix maintains his innocence of pre-meditated murder, claiming he acted in self-defense when Clarence Moore fatally attacked Aleisha Bryant and came at him when he tried to stop the assault.

Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

* Calling for the execution to be halted, denial of clemency reconsidered, and the death sentence commuted;

* Expressing deep concern at the non-transparency of Florida's clemency process;

* Noting that Michael Lambrix denies pre-meditated murder and maintains that he acted in self-defense, that that the state's case was circumstantial, and pointing to the Hanzel recantation;

* Noting that Michael Lambrix was sentenced under a law now deemed unconstitutional, and on non-unanimous jury recommendations for the death penalty, which would now be unlawful in Florida.

Friendly reminder: If you send an email, please create your own instead of forwarding this one!

Contact these 2 officials by 5 October, 2017:

Governor Rick Scott

Office of the Governor, The Capitol

400 S. Monroe St.

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001, USA

Email: Rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com

Salutation: Dear Governor

Office of Executive Clemency

Florida Parole Commission

4070 Esplanade Way

Tallahassee, FL 32399-2450

USA

Email: ClemencyWeb@fpc.state.fl.us

Fax: +1 850 414-6031 or +1 850 488-0695

Salutation: Dear Members of the Clemency Board

(source: Amnesty International USA)

**************************

'Pain & Gain' murderer from Miami gets new chance to avoid execution

A Miami gym rat sent to death row for the gruesome dismemberment murder of a Golden Beach couple in 1995 is getting a new sentencing hearing.

Florida's high court this week tossed out the death sentence for Noel Doorbal, one of the notorious Sun Gym crew whose story was made into the movie "Pain & Gain."

The decision was not a surprise. Most Florida death row inmates from the past 2 decades are getting new sentencing hearings because of recent changes to the death-penalty law.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 ruled that Florida's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional, and the state justices later ruled that many inmates slated for execution should get new sentencing hearings because juries did not vote unanimously for execution.

Jurors voted 8-4 to send Doorbal to death row. He and Daniel Lugo, weightlifters who worked out at the Sun Gym in Miami Lakes, have been on death row since they were convicted and sentenced in 1998. Lugo, 54, is also likely to get a new sentencing hearing.

Doorbal, 45, remains convicted of the murders. If Miami-Dade prosecutors decide to again seek the death penalty, a new jury will be selected to hear evidence and decide whether execution is the proper punishment.

Hoping to get some of his fortune, the two men kidnapped Frank Griga, 33, a Hungarian immigrant who had earned his fortune in the 900-phone sex business, and his girlfriend, Krisztina Furton. Inside Doorbal's apartment, the kidnapping went horribly awry. Griga fought back and was beaten to death. Furton was fatally drugged with horse tranquilizers.

The bodies were whisked away to a warehouse, where they were dismembered. Eventually, their body parts were found in drums and buckets discarded along rural highways in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The story was made into 2014's "Pain & Gain," starring Mark Wahlberg as Lugo, Anthony Mackie as Doorbal and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Paul Doyle, a fictional composite character based on several members of the murderous crew.

Billed as a dark comedy, the movie infuriated relatives of Griga, as well as Marc Schiller, a Miami businessman who was also kidnapped and tortured.

"I think it's ridiculous. It's horrible what happened to them," Zsuzsanna Griga, the sister of Frank Griga, told the Miami Herald before the movie premiered. "I don't want the American public to be sympathetic to the killers."

(source: Miami Herald)

INDIANA:

Boone County requests state seek death penalty for Zachariah Wright murder case

Zachariah Wright is charged with killing a 73-year-old man and trying to rape and set fire to his wife.

His trial was originally set for December, but now the Boone County Prosecutor, Todd Meyer, has decided to pursue the death penalty.

"Death penalty cases in Indiana right now are quite rare," said Jack Crawford, a defense attorney and former Lake County prosecutor who's tried 17 death penalty cases.

The reason, in part, he says, is that the process could take years or even decades.

"It's one of the hardest decisions I'm sure he's had to make," said Crawford.

A tough choice Crawford says because of a long list of factors including Wright's age. Wright was 19, just 1 year older than the constitutional minimum, when police say he stabbed Max Foster to death.

"Even though technically they can vote, they can sign a contract, they can't drink alcohol, but at the age of 19 they're an adult under the law," said Crawford. "But do they have the mental background and resources to make important decisions?"

A death penalty case is expensive, anywhere from $300,000 to $2 million dollars.

Lawyers I spoke to say that's why they believe there's been a drop in cases pursued, with only 6 pending right now in the entire state. They say that's because the state mandates a lot of man hours on both sides.

"In my experience, if you're appointed as a death penalty attorney, they expect thousands of hours in billing from the attorneys that are doing that work," said John Tompkins, a defense attorney who's been involved in death penalty trials. In other words, they expect a lot of work to be done and they don't bat an eye."

For people facing the death penalty who can't afford representation, the state requires at least 2 different attorneys, an investigator and a mitigation specialist be appointed.

"Literally a person's life is on the line," said Tompkins. "Not the rest of his life in prison, but his life is on the line."

And he says the prosecution, of course, also has a life on the line - the one that was taken, that they're trying to obtain justice for.

With the stakes so high, Wright's attorney Allen Reid already has boxes and boxes of information to sort through.

"It's awfully early in the case," said Reid. "The prosecutor indicated to me 3 weeks ago, that he has about 50 DVDs worth of evidence that he needs to get to me that thus far I have not seen."

And Tompkins says the jailhouse interview FOX59 conducted with Wright could make the defense's job tough too.

"It is an inherently horrible situation to be in," said Tompkins. "Hardly anyone is operating the way he normally would, cognitively, when they're talking, and everyone wants out of jail."

And all of these challenges are amplified for the victims' family members, who may find seeking the death penalty leads them to relive their nightmare for decades.

"The cost to the family is," Crawford starts before pausing. "This will take a long time. It won't come to trial for at least a year and a half in Boone County and then there will be appeals and appeals and appeals."

Tompkins noted that just because the state is seeking the death penalty doesn't mean the case will actually make it to a jury trial.

He says that often prosecutors will go for the death penalty and defendants will take a plea bargain for life without parole in a bid to save their lives.

(source: Deanna Allbrittin, Fox News)

TENNESSEE:

Closing arguments, jury deliberations expected in Bobo case

Closing arguments are scheduled in the trial of a man charged with killing a Tennessee nursing student who disappeared into the woods behind her rural home more than 6 years ago.

Thursday marked the 9th day of trial for Zachary Adams. Adams has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, raping and killing Holly Bobo. She was 20 when she was reported missing from her home in Parsons, located about 100 miles southwest of Nashville.

2 ginseng hunters found Bobo's remains in woods not far from her family's home in September 2014.

The jury will begin deliberating after a prosecutor and a defense attorney make closing statements. Adams faces the death penalty if convicted of 1st-degree murder.

Bobo's disappearance sparked a massive search and the case received national attention.

(source: WREG news)

ARIZONA:

Judge: Arizona doesn't have to reveal execution drug sources

Arizona does not have to reveal who provides its execution drugs, a judge ruled Thursday in a lawsuit arguing that the information would help the public determine whether the death penalty is carried out humanely and promote confidence in the criminal justice system.

The decision marked a defeat for news organizations, including The Associated Press, that sued to get the information released. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled that the media outlets didn't show they had a First Amendment right to knowing the suppliers of lethal injection drugs.

The judge said the First Amendment protects the right of people to argue about the death penalty, but it doesn't require Arizona to reveal "protected information to the detriment of the state's ability to carry out its constitutional, lawfully imposed criminal punishments."

The lawsuit followed the 2014 execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood, who was given 15 doses of a 2-drug combination over nearly 23 hours in what his attorney called a botched execution.

Like other states, Arizona is struggling to buy execution drugs after U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies began blocking the use of their products in lethal injections.

2 years ago, Arizona tried to illegally import an anesthetic that has been used to carry out executions but is no longer manufactured by companies approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The state never obtained the shipment because federal agents stopped it at the Phoenix airport.

The judge also rejected a bid to order the state to divulge the qualifications of people who carry out capital punishment in Arizona, saying revealing those details could lead to their identification. He noted that state law protects the identities of executioners and death penalty drug suppliers.

Snow said it's logical that some drug suppliers would decline to do business with the state if their identities were not kept secret.

Andrew Wilder, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections, which carries out executions, said the agency had no immediate comment on the decision.

At a 1-day trial in July on the media lawsuit, an Arizona prison official testified that suppliers of lethal injection drugs have refused to sell to the state, even though a law protects the companies from being publicly identified.

The prison official said suppliers fear that selling lethal injection drugs would hurt their business. An attorney for the news organizations offered a different explanation - that the drug companies simply don't want to be involved in executions.

The state said a law prohibiting the disclosure of identifying information about anyone serving on an execution team extends the same sort of confidentiality to suppliers of lethal injection drugs.

Other news organizations that filed the lawsuit are The Arizona Republic, Guardian News & Media, Arizona Daily Star, CBS 5 (KPHO-TV) and 12 News (KPNX-TV).

The news organizations won a partial victory last year when Snow ruled that the state must allow witnesses to view the entirety of an execution, including each time drugs are administered. Witnesses to Wood's death couldn't see that he was receiving additional doses of the drugs after the first ones failed to kill him.

A new execution protocol issued in January will let witnesses see the injections through a camera in a room where the drugs are loaded into an inmate's IV line.

Arizona, which has 118 prisoners on death row, saw executions put on hold for 2 1/2 years after the 2014 death of Wood.

But the state is now able to resume executions after a separate lawsuit that challenged the way Arizona carries out the death penalty was settled this summer. No executions are scheduled.

(source: Associated Press)

***************

Deadline to file death penalty appeal extended

The deadline for a convicted murderer to file an appeal has been extended again.

Brad Lee Nelson, 47, was convicted in November 2009 of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to death a month later in the death of Amber Leann Graff in Kingman in June 2006. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Nelson's conviction and death sentence in April 2012.

Nelson's attorney, Harley Kurlander of Tucson, asked Wednesday to extend the deadline to file a Post Conviction Relief appeal. The deadline to file the PCR has been extended numerous times. Kurlander was assigned to the case in May 2016.

Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss set another status hearing for Oct. 19 and extended the deadline to that date.

From October 2012 until the end of August, Nelson's PCR process has cost the county more than $480,814 for attorneys, experts and investigation services. Attorney services alone have cost $300,436. The cost of the appeals process before the PCR stage was $30,220, Indigent Defense Services Director Blake Schritter said.

Nelson was convicted of murdering Graff, 14, on June 9, 2006, at a Kingman motel. Graff and her younger brother were left in Nelsonís care at the motel while their mother was being treated at a hospital.

Nelson went to a department store to buy a rubber mallet, which he used to smash the girl's head in, then sexually molested her. He took his then 13-year-old nephew, who was unaware of the murder, back to the department store to buy a shirt. Nelson's old shirt and a sleeping bag were later found with Graff's blood on them.

Nelson was charged with the murder after he confessed to killing his niece to a corrections officer at the county jail. During the trial, defense attorneys admitted that Nelson killed his niece but argued that the murder was not premeditated nor was it a 1st-degree murder.

(source: Mohave Valley Daily News)

USA:

Driver won't get death penalty in Texas smuggling case

The federal government will not seek the death penalty against a 60-year-old driver at the center of a human smuggling case that killed 10 people in San Antonio, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

James Bradley Jr. will not be sentenced to death, according to U.S. Attorney General Richard Durban, Jr., but will face additional charges in the case after a grand jury returned a superseding indictment Wednesday.

The indictment also charged 47-year-old Pedro Silva Seguara, an undocumented alien, in connection to transporting and harboring undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in serious bodily injury. Segura faces life imprisonment or the death penalty.

What James Matthew Bradley Jr claimed happened in the immigrant smuggling attempt gone wrong

In July, authorities were called to the Walmart store near Interstate 35 in San Antonio. According to the criminal complaint, Bradley told police the trailer he was hauling had been sold and he was "unaware" of its contents. He said he stopped at the Walmart and exited the vehicle to relieve himself when he heard "banging and shaking" in the trailer.

Survivors told authorities people began passing out, hitting trailer walls and making noise to get the driver's attention.

Bradley has also been charged with transportation of undocumented aliens resulting death, transporting undocumented aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He faces up to life imprisonment for the conspiracy and transportation-resulting-in-death charges and up to 10 years in federal prison for the firearm charge.

(source: KTRK TV news)

**********************

U.S. Attorney: Man charged in deadly Conway bank robbery could receive death penalty

A Federal Grand Jury indicted Brandon Council on 3 counts connected to the deadly CresCom bank robbery in August, according to a news release.

Council was indicted for armed bank robbery resulting in death, felon in possession of a firearm, and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death of a person in such a manner to constitute murder.

United States Attorney Beth Drake said Council could receive life without the possibility of parole or death on 2 of the 3 counts.

Police say Council killed Donna Major, 59, of Conway, and Kathryn "Katie" Skeen, 36, of Green Sea, during the incident.

Council will be arraigned on the indictment by a United States Magistrate Judge at the McMillan Federal Courthouse in Florence, South Carolina, in the coming weeks, according to the release.

Drake detailed what the indictment sent to the jury stated:

The indictment alleges that on August 21, 2017, Defendant Brandon Michael Council planned to enter CresCom Bank to rob the bank and kill its employees. Shortly after entering the bank, Defendant Brandon Michael Council drew a revolver and shot bank teller Donna Major multiple times. Defendant Brandon Michael Council then ran into a nearby office where he shot bank manager Kathryn Skeen as she sheltered under her desk. Defendant Brandon Michael Council then proceeded to take more than $15,000 in cash from the bank before fleeing.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Conway Police Department, Horry County Police Department, Myrtle Beach Police Department, Horry County Sheriff's Office, Wilson North Carolina Police Department, Greenville North Carolina Police Department, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and the United States Marshal's Office. Assistant United States Attorneys JD Rowell and Jay N. Richardson of the Columbia office are prosecuting the case.

The United States Attorney stated that all charges in Indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

(source: WPDE news)

IRAN----executions

A man and a Woman Executed on Murder Charges----A man and a woman were executed in 2 different Iranian prisons on murder charges.

A man was reportedly hanged at Mashhad Central Prison on murder charges, and a woman was reportedly hanged at Zanjan Central Prison on murder charges.

According to the state-run news agency, Khorassan News, the prisoner at Mashhad Central Prison, was executed on the morning of Monday September 18. The report did not identify the name of the prisoner, but identified his age as 29.

According to the state-run news agency, Mehr News, the execution at Zanjan Central Prison was carried out on Tuesday September 19. The woman was identified only by the initials N.A.

*********************

Man Hanged, Prison Mates Forced to Watch

On Monday September 18, at least 1 prisoner was reportedly hanged on sodomy charges at Ardabil Central Prison.

According to close sources, prison authorities forced approximately 50 prison mates to watch the execution being carried out. Close sources have identified the prisoner as Shahin Parsajoo, 42 years of age.

Shahin Parsajoo and another prisoner by the name of Tofigh Yousefi were reportedly transferred to solitary confinement on Sunday September 17 in preparation for their executions. Close sources say Tofigh Yousefi, who is on death row on drug related charges, was not executed and is currently held in solitary confinement.

"Shahin was arrested in 2012 on theft charges, but he was sentenced to death for committing a sodomy offense in prison," an informed source tells Iran Human Rights.

Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and the media, have not announced Shahin Parsajoo's execution.

(source fopr both: Iran Human Rights)

******************

Increased Public Executions on the Eve of Moslem Holy Month to Intimidate People

Trying to prevent the public protests by intensifying the atmosphere of terror and intimidation in the society on the eve of the Islamic holy month of Muharram, Iranian regime has increased the public executions in various streets and prisons of the country.

Just between September 12 and 20, 5 prisoners, including a 27-year-old youth in Islamabad, another prisoner in Anbarabad city in Kerman province, (September 12), a prisoner in Modarres Blvd in Ilam (September 17), a prisoner at the the Salmas municipality square (September 14), as well as another prisoner in Pars Abad, Moghan, in Ardebil province, were hanged in front of the public eyes.

Meanwhile, 6 prisoners were hanged in the prisons of Ardebil, Boroujerd, Khorramabad, Mashad and Zanjan on September 18 and 18. A female prisoner was among the executed on September 18. On September 19, a 23-year-old man was executed while he was sentenced to 3 years in prison for robbery, but was sentenced to death in a new pumped up charge.

The henchmen hanged him along with another prisoner, while their hands and feet were in the chain. On the order of the criminal prosecutor of Ardabil, about 50 prisoners had to watch the execution scene of their cellmates.

In another event, 13 prisoners were transferred to solitary confinement cells of Gohardasht Prison since Saturday September 18, for execution.

The Iranian Resistance calls on the international human rights organizations to urgently and effectively stop the executions of those prisoners on the verge of death, and insists that the greatest thieves and the greatest killers and criminals of Iranian history are Khamenei and the ruling fascist gangs, who, without any accountability, continue their plunder and crimes for the past 38 years. Therefore, Khamenei and other leaders of the mullahs' regime must be brought to justice for serious and systematic violations of human rights and collective and arbitrary executions, and this is why their case should be referred to the International Criminal Court by the UN Security Council.

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

MALAYSIA:

Tahfiz fire: Stop calling for the death penalty, they're minors

The 7 youths held over the tahfiz fire last Thursday cannot be punished with the death penalty as they are underage, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

She said that the suspects will be tried in accordance with laws such as Section 97 (1) of the Child Act 2001.

However, if the suspects are found guilty of murder, the mandatory death penalty cannot be imposed on them, she said in a statement Thursday.

The offenders may also be punished under Section 91 (1) of the Act, which includes whipping, fines or detention at an approved school.

Police have confirmed that the 7, aged between 11 and 18, were detained for murder and causing mischief in connection with the fire on Sept 14.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun also said that the parents of the suspects would not be charged as they had nothing to do with the case.

Azalina said the incident should be used as a lesson for all parties, especially parents, in the fight against crime involving children.

"I urge all parties to stop speculating and give space to the authorities to complete the investigation.

"I believe the case will be brought to justice," she said.

The early morning fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah school resulted in the deaths of 21 students and 2 teachers.

(source: thestar.com.my)

PAKISTAN:

Pakistan's Army Chief Ratifies Death Penalty against 4 Terrorists

Pakistan''s Army Chief Qamar Jawed Bajwa has ratified death penalty against 4 men convicted in military courts for committing several terrorist acts, today reported the body.

A statement from the Army's Inter-Services Public Relations said that the accused participated in attacks, kidnappings and killings of soldiers.

They were involved in the death of 21 people, stressed the text of the military body.

On January 3, 2015, Parliament overwhelmingly approved the establishment of military courts to try cases of terrorism after a Taliban commando's attack on a school a month earlier in Peshawar, which caused over 150 deaths, mostly children and young people.

The massacre shocked national public opinion and led the army to intensify a military offensive against that radical organization in areas bordering Afghanistan.

8 months later, the Supreme Court sanctioned the establishment of these instances, whose sentences must be ratified by the high command of the Armed Forces.

(source: Prensa Latina)

*************

Bahawalpur court awards death penalty to 2 in murder case

A court awarded death sentences to 2 murder convicts in Bahawalpur on Thursday.

The judgment was announced by District and Sessions Judge Cahudhry Muhammad Tariq Javed. The prosecution told the court that accused Maqsood Ahmed and Arshad had gunned down Muhammad Shafiq and injured Munir Gul during a robbery bid.

The local police registered a case against the accused and presented the challan before the court.

After hearing the arguments, the judge handed down death sentences to Maqsood and Arshad and awarded an additional 20 years imprisonment on other accounts. The judge also imposed a fine of Rs1 million on the convicts.

Earlier, a court awarded a death sentence to a murder convict and 3 years imprisonment to 2 others for their involvement in a murder case in Faisalabad. The judgment was announced by Additional Sessions Judge Khalid Saeed Wattoo.

The prosecution told the court that accused Yasir Abbas, Noman, Adnan and Bilal had gunned down their rival Ali Ahsan over enmity some 3 years back.

The local police registered a case against the accused and presented the challan before the court. After hearing the arguments, the judge handed down death sentence to Yasir and awarded 3 years jail term to Adnan and Bilal. However, the court declared Noman as a proclaimed offender.

(source: The Express Tribune)

CAMEROON:

Journalists face death penalty in Cameroon crises

Journalists in Cameroon are facing the increasing threat of jail and death penalty for coverage of the Boko Haram terror group and the civil unrest by English-speaking communities.

The crackdown on the press largely reporting on the government's alleged laxity against the problems has left journalists too scared to cover such sensitive issues.

Media professionals arrested under the draconian anti-terror law face military tribunal and harsh sentences including capital punishment.

Among these is radio broadcaster, Ahmed Abba, is currently serving a ten-year sentence and could still be executed.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Cameroon was clearly using anti-state legislation to silence criticism in the press.

"When you equate journalism with terrorism, you create an environment where fewer journalists are willing to report on hard news for fear of reprisal," the organisation's regional director, Angela Quintal, said.

The media rights group said despite a presidential decree ending legal proceedings against at least four journalists, the law that was used against them is still in place as next year's elections approach.

"Cameroon must amend its laws and stop subjecting journalists - who are civilians - to military trial," Quintal said.

The Central African country of 23 million people is besieged by deadly protests by English communities decrying alleged marginalisation by a government dominated by French-speaking Cameroonians, including President Paul Biya.

It is also facing a terror threat by the Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram radicals.

(source: CAJ News)

LIBERIA:

PYJ promises death penalty

Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) presidential candidate Sen. Prince Y. Johnson says when elected president, anyone caught in ritualistic killing and found guilty in court will be hung upside down from 6am to 6pm.

The Nimba Senator told a group of Liberians on Wednesday, 20 September at the Dry Rice Market Community in Gardnerville that under his administration, security will protect all from ritualistic killing.

The wartime leader of defunct rebel group Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), now Nimba Senator Mr. Johnson says under his rule as president, armed robbers will no longer disturb peaceful citizens because when they are caught and found guilty, they will be dealt with through the law.

While vowing drastic actions against ritualistic killers and armed robbers, Sen. Johnson apologizes to Liberians for the role he played during the war that dethroned and witnessed the murder of sitting President Samuel K. Doe. The MDR presidential candidate says he was just an instrument being used for liberation.

Turning to other matters of national concern, Sen. Johnson claims that under his rule, Liberia will not depend on any foreign aid for development, promising a new Liberia in which justice will be for all and not few.

He accuses ruling Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of sleeping, alleging that the UP candidate has worked for 42 years without anything to show.

He believes that what Mr. Boakai could not do in 12 years cannot be done now, telling supporters that if Boakai wins the October elections, Liberians should buy a bronze casket and set it beside him because they do not know what causes him to sleep.

He cautions Liberians that government is not for a family, saying Mr. Boakai's running mate House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay allegedly married and has 2 children by Vice President Boakai's niece.

He further alleges that President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf and Liberty Party (LP) presidential candidate Cllr. Charles Burmskine are 2nd cousins. Due to the alleged family line between the 2, Sen. Johnson claims that Cllr. Burmskine is not critical on the Presidentís leadership.

He also fired salvos at the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Sen. George Weah, criticizing him for not having a football academy as Liberia's soccer icon.

Sen. Johnson professes to be the best person for the Presidency, promising good roads, agriculture development, and better living conditions. He calls on Liberians not to vote people because they have money, but what they can do.

(source: The New Dawn Liberia)

GAMBIA & MADAGASCAR:

I am really pleased to let you know that Gambia signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty on 20 September 2017 (https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CN/2017/CN.570.2017-Eng.pdf [treaties.un.org]) and that Madagascar ratified it on 21 September 2017 (https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CN/2017/CN.587.2017-Eng.pdf [treaties.un.org]), together with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

The UN treaty event is currently going on in New York, at the beginning of the UN General Assembly, and it is a time when states often ratify international treaties https://treaties.un.org/pages/TreatyEvents.aspx?path=Treaty/Focus/Page1_en.xml [treaties.un.org].

Last year, at the same time, Togo and the Dominican Republic also accessed to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

For more information on the World Coalition's campaign for worldwide ratification: www.worldcoalition.org/protocol [www.worldcoalition.org]

(source: Aurelie Placais, WCADP)

SEPTEMBER 21, 2017:

GEORGIA----impending execution

Killer soon to be executed wants high-calorie last meal----Keith Tharpe faces the death penalty for killing his sister-in-law and kidnapping and raping his estranged wife.

Keith Tharpe, who is scheduled to be executed next Tuesday, has requested high-calorie food for his last meal.

As is tradition, the Georgia Department of Corrections allowed Tharpe to plan the menu for the day of his execution.

Condemned inmates are allowed almost anything they want for their final meal. One exception, however, is alcohol, which was on the 2015 last-meal request of Marcus Ray Johnson, who wanted a 6-pack of beer.

Tharpe, 59, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, 27 years and a day after he murdered his sister-in-law on a Jones County road.

If Tharpe is put to death, he will be the second man the state has executed this year. In 2016, Georgia carried out a record 9 executions.

Less than a month after Tharpe's wife had left him and their violent marriage in late summer 1990, he told her in a phone call that if she wanted to "play dirty," he would show her what dirty was.

On the morning of Sept. 25, 1990, Tharpe intercepted his estranged wife and Jaquelin Freeman - who was married to Tharpe's wife's brother - as they drrive to work.

He pulled in front of their car, blocking them, and pulled out the 29-year-old Freeman. Tharpe threw Freeman into a ditch and fired three times from a shotgun, reloading after each trigger pull.

Tharpe kidnapped his wife and later allegedly sexually assaulted her in the car on the side of the road in a nearby county. Tharpe was never tried for rape.

Tharpe was caught because he had driven his ex-wife to Macon to withdraw funds from her credit union. She called police instead.

Tharpe went on trial 3 months after the murder.

During the sentencing phase that came after the jury convicted him, 13 witnesses - including his mother, sister, 2 of his daughters, and even the ex-wife he assaulted - described Tharpe as a good son, brother, father and husband who was emotionally distressed because his marriage was ending.

Though state and federal courts have upheld his conviction and death sentence, his lawyers still have an appeal pending that claims at least one juror had racist motives for voting for the death penalty. That juror, Barney Gattie, signed a statement for Tharpe's lawyers, confirming that he believed there were "good black folks" and people like Tharpe, whom he used a slur to describe.

But the state's lawyers said Gattie, who has since died, told them that he was drunk when he made that statement and didn't understand what he was signing.

That matter is pending before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

(source: Atlana Journal-Constitution)

LOUISIANA:

New state law could impact Baton Rouge double-slaying case

A state law that took effect in 2009 making it easier to subject serial killers to the death penalty could have a profound impact on Kenneth James Gleason, the Baton Rouge man who was booked Tuesday on 1st-degree murder counts in a pair of unrelated fatal shootings last week.

East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors sought the change to the 1st-degree murder statute after reputed Baton Rouge serial killer Sean Vincent Gillis was convicted in 2008 of 1st-degree murder. The jury deadlocked on the death penalty, and Gillis was sentenced to life in prison.

1st-degree murder, which is punishable by death in capital cases, requires an aggravating circumstance, such as murdering someone while committing another crime like armed robbery or killing someone under the age of 12.

Prosecutors complained to state lawmakers after the Gillis trial that serial killers often murder without committing another aggravating crime.

Senate Bill 132, pushed by East Baton Rouge prosecutors and signed into law in 2009 by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal, added another element that allows the state to seek capital murder charges "when the offender has a specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm and the offender has previously acted with a specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm that resulted in the killing or 1 or more persons."

Authorities say Gillis confessed to killing 8 south Louisiana women between 1994 and 2004. He was booked in 7 of those deaths.

"After Gillis we wanted to make sure that multiple killings in a sequential fashion would be an aggravating factor," East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III, who took office in 2009, said Tuesday.

Former East Baton Rouge Parish First Assistant District Attorney Prem Burns, who prosecuted Gillis and helped push the change in state law, said Tuesday it was sorely needed so serial killers would not be rewarded for not committing an aggravating crime in addition to each individual murder.

"We needed a serial killer statute," she said. "A serial killer in and of itself needs to be a 1st-degree murder. This was so badly needed. I'm glad we have it."

Burns described the change in the law as a "new tool for victims and prosecutors."

Moore and Louisiana District Attorneys Association executive director Pete Adams said they are not aware of another case to date of the law being applied. But Moore said his office at this point intends to use it against Gleason, 23, if he is indicted on 1st-degree murder charges.

Gleason, who is white, is booked with 1st-degree murder in the killings of Donald Smart, 49, and Bruce Cofield, 59, both black men. Authorities have said the shootings may have been racially motivated.

Smart was shot Thursday night while walking on Alaska Street to work his overnight shift at Louie's Cafe, just off LSU's campus. Cofield was apparently homeless and frequently panhandled at the intersection where he was shot Sept. 12 on Florida Street.

In the Gillis case, the aggravating crimes -- armed robbery and second-degree kidnapping -- accused him of taking, among other things, a black belt and earring backing from Donna Bennett Johnston, who was strangled and mutilated in 2004. The belt was found in a broken-down van in Gillis' driveway, and the earring piece was discovered in the trunk of his car.

Even though Gillis was found guilty of 1st-degree murder in Johnston's slaying, his attorneys had argued that no one in their "right mind would kill somebody to get this belt." Prosecutor Prem Burns argued Gillis kept the belt with silver loops as a "trophy" and "souvenir."

Gillis' attorneys also argued that Johnston, a prostitute, likely willingly got into Gillis' car.

Burns said Tuesday that, even though the jury found Gillis guilty of 1st-degree murder, the hoops she had to jump through to prove his guilt may have left some on the jury wondering whether the crime was actually a 1st-degree murder.

"That was half the battle," she said of having to prove an aggravating factor.

Burns said former East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Doug Moreau and the late Cheney Joseph, a former prosecutor and LSU law professor, also were instrumental in securing the change to the 1st-degree murder statute.

Jeffery Lee Guillory, another Baton Rouge serial killer accused of committing murders in 1999, 2001 and 2002, was convicted in 2011 of 2nd-degree murder in one of those killings and sentenced to life in prison. He could not be prosecuted for 1st-degree murder because there were no aggravating circumstances, and because the crimes predated the 2009 law change.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Dana Cummings, who prosecuted Guillory, said he definitely would have been prosecuted for 1st-degree murder and subjected to a possible death penalty if his crimes had occurred after the 2009 legislation was signed into law.

Guillory was found guilty in the 2002 strangulation of Renee Newman in Baton Rouge.

(source: houmatoday.com)

******************

White Baton Rouge Suspect Is Charged With Murder in Killings of 2 Black Men

The police in Baton Rouge, La., have charged a 23-year-old white man in the separate killings of 2 black men last week.

The suspect, Kenneth James Gleason, was charged on Tuesday with 2 counts of 1st degree murder in the killings of Bruce Cofield and Donald Smart, as well as 2 counts of attempted 1st degree murder in an unrelated shooting, said Sergeant L'Jean McKneely, a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department.

Mr. Cofield was shot on Sept. 12, and Mr. Smart on Sept. 14. The men were killed in a similar manner, with a gunman first shooting from a vehicle and then exiting the car, standing over the victims and shooting multiple times, Mr. McKneely said.

The police, including Mr. McKneely, said last week that they believed that the killings may have been racially motivated. Mr. McKneeley said Tuesday that the explanation had not been ruled out, but that it was speculative and that Mr. Gleason still needed to be questioned.

The attempted murder charges stemmed from an episode on Sept. 11 in which a house close to where Mr. Gleason lives was shot at 3 times, Mr. McKneely said. 2 people were in the house at the time. Neither was injured.

Mr. Gleason was arrested Saturday on unrelated drug charges - possession of marijuana and human growth hormones - and was questioned about the killings.

He posted $3,500 bail and was released Sunday, the police said. He was arrested again on Monday after being accused of petty theft.

Finally, on Tuesday, after the police had recovered DNA evidence from the shell casings at one of the crime scenes linked to Mr. Gleason, he was charged in the killings, Mr. McKneely said.

Baton Rouge's interim police chief, Johnny Dunnam, said at a news conference that Mr. Gleason would have likely killed again had he not been arrested. That would have further strained race relations in a community that was roiled by the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man, in 2016.

"He could have potentially created a tear in the fabric that holds this community together," Chief Dunnam said.

Hillar C. Moore III, the district attorney of East Baton Rouge, detailed the evidence against Mr. Gleason at length during the news conference. The case against him relied on his past purchases of guns and video evidence and witness accounts indicating that he had handled guns between the shootings. Mr. Moore said that it was "surely a potential death penalty case."

The crime lab had been fortunate to recover DNA evidence from the shell casings linking Mr. Gleason to the shootings, he added.

Mr. Cofield, 59, who the police believed was homeless, was shot to death at about 11 p.m. near the center of Baton Rouge. He was found dead in the street.

Mr. Smart, 49, was killed at about the same time 2 days later while walking to his job as a dishwasher at Louie's Cafe, a popular diner near the Louisiana State University campus in the southwest part of the city. The Advocate reported that he was married with 3 children.

The killing of Mr. Sterling by the police last summer led to sustained protests in Baton Rouge. In May, the Justice Department said that the police officers involved in that shooting would not face federal charges.

(source: New York Times)

OHIO:

Judge: Inmate drug reaction wasn't enough to stop execution

Descriptions of the repeated rising and falling of an inmate's stomach werenít enough to stop his execution under current legal precedent governing lethal injection in Ohio, a federal judge said in explaining his decision not to intervene.

It was also likely too late to act by the time attorneys for inmate Gary Otte reached him by phone during the execution on Sept. 13, Judge Michael Merz said in a ruling on Saturday.

The description of Otte's reaction to the 1st execution drug was not enough to show he "was experiencing unconstitutionally severe pain," the judge said in a 5-page ruling.

Otte, 45, was put to death for the 1992 murders of 2 people during robberies over 2 days in suburban Cleveland.

After the 1st drug was administered - the sedative midazolam - Otte's stomach rose and fell repeatedly over the next couple of minutes. It was similar to the rising and falling of inmates' stomachs and chests seen in past executions using a different drug, though Otte's movement appeared to go on longer.

Carol Wright, a federal public defender representing Otte, also said she saw tears on his face and he was clenching his hands, which indicated to her he was suffering.

When Otte's stomach began to rise and fall, Wright tried to leave the witness room in the death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility to call another attorney in a different part of the prison.

Wright said execution policy should have allowed her to leave right away. But a spokeswoman for the state's prison system said once Wright's identity and intentions were confirmed, she was allowed out.

Wright "is reporting that there were signs that Mr. Otte was conscious, crying, clenching of the hands, heaving at the stomach," Allen Bohnert, another federal public defender, told Merz by phone at 10:48 a.m. that morning, according to a transcript of his call to the judge. The execution began at 10:40 a.m.

After listening to the attorneys' descriptions of the execution, Merz declined to stop the procedure.

The descriptions weren't enough to override an appeals court ruling this past summer stating that the likelihood of pain after the injection of the sedative midazolam didn't violate the constitution, Merz said in the Sept. 16 ruling.

Immediately after the execution, Wright said attorneys will continue to challenge the use of midazolam. They said even at a massive dose of 500 milligrams it won't render inmates so deeply unconscious that they won't feel pain from the two subsequent drugs, which paralyze inmates and stop their hearts.

The next execution is Nov. 15, when Ohio plans to put Alva Campbell to death for car-jacking and killing 18-year-old Charles Dials in 1997.

(source: therepublic.com)

**********************

Jurors seated in capital murder trial in Van Wert County

Jurors in the aggravated murder trial of Christopher Peters were seated Monday afternoon.

The 12 jurors and 2 alternates, along with attorneys and court officials, then traveled to the scene of the alleged crime in Delphos as what is expected to be a week-long trial with capital punishment implications got fully underway.

Peters, 27, of Delphos, is charged with aggravated murder in the death of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger on Nov. 15 at The Old Lincoln Inn, 24249 Lincoln Highway on the west edge of Delphos. If convicted, Peters could face the death penalty. He previously pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder; felonious assault, a 2nd-degree felony; and endangering children by abuse, a felony of the 2nd degree.

The mother of the victim, 24-year-old Valerie Dean, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in connection with her son's death. The infant's body was found inside an apartment at 24249 Lincoln Highway in Van Wert County. Her case will be heard separately from that of Peters.

Judge Martin Burchfield is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last at least a week.

Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick is presenting the state's case against Peters as the special counsel appointed by Burchfield. He is being assisted by Van Wert County Prosecutor Eva Yarger. Lima attorney Bill Kluge is serving as the lead defense attorney, joined by fellow Lima attorney Bob Grzybowski.

During the jury selection process that ran throughout most of the day Monday, prospective jurors were questioned about their knowledge of the case, their views on the death penalty, and whether the fact that the victim in the case was an infant would cloud their decision-making process. Many potential jurors were excused after saying they believed they could not be fair and impartial in judging the facts of the case for various reasons.

By mid-afternoon Monday, 23 potential jurors had been selected to be part of the jury pool. Shortly after 3 p.m. a jury of 6 men and 6 women - along with 2 alternates - was sworn in to get the trial underway.

Jurors will hear opening arguments from attorneys Tuesday morning.

(source: Norwalk Reflector)

INDIANA:

Prosecutors seek death penalty for suspect in stabbing death of 73-year-old Lebanon man

Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer said Wednesday that he will seek the death penalty for a teenager accused of fatally stabbing a 73-year-old man in his Lebanon home.

Zachariah B. Wright, 19, Lebanon, faces 23 charges in connection with the June 18 slaying of Maxwell Foster and the assault of his wife, 68-year-old Sonja Foster.

Meyer said the community is still reeling from the brutal incident.

"The crimes this defendant is alleged to have committed are horrific and serve as everyone's worst nightmare," Meyer said in a written statement. "Being awakened in your home, in the middle of the night, to find an intruder standing over you armed with a knife.

"I have given this decision considerable thought and deliberation and, after meeting with the victim's family, presenting the case to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Council's capital litigation committee and after speaking with members of the Indiana attorney general's office. I have come to the conclusion that seeking the death sentence in this case is the right decision."

Meyer said Wright will remain in Boone County Jail without bond until his trial begins Dec. 4.

Wright faces 1 count each of murder, attempted murder, attempted rape, aggravated battery, criminal confinement, sexual battery, attempted arson, unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, attempted burglary, obstruction of justice and false informing, as well as 3 counts of burglary and nine counts of theft.

Aggravating factors in Meyer's decision to seek the death penalty include the fact that Wright was on probation at the time of the murder and that he is suspected of also attempting to commit burglary, arson and rape during the commission of the murder.

"When someone commits this type of crime he should have to face the ultimate penalty, which, in the state of Indiana, is a sentence of death," Meyer said.

According to court documents, Wright fatally stabbed Foster and attempted to rape his wife before trying to set her nightgown on fire. Investigators believe Wright first broke into a nearby home on Pearl Street and stole two vests and a pickax.

Afterward, he broke into a vehicle and later stole a bicycle, which he rode to the Foster home on the 500 block of Dicks Street, Meyer said.

Officers found Maxwell Foster with an undetermined number of stab wounds, police said. Sonja Foster was assaulted once inside the home and again after she managed to escape the house. She eventually was able to escape and get help from a neighbor.

Police found a pair of jeans inside Wright's home covered in blood that later tested positive for the DNA of both Maxwell and Sonja Foster.

Wright has been charged in 6 other cases since July 2015, including theft, illegal consumption, burglary and criminal mischief, according to online court records.

(source: indystar.com)

ARKANSAS:

Arkansas judge: State must disclose execution drug details

Arkansas' intent to shield much of its execution procedure from public view took another hit Tuesday when a 2nd judge ruled that the state's prison system must disclose labels that will identify the manufacturer of a lethal injection drug.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce told the Arkansas Department of Correction to give lawyer Steven Shults unredacted package inserts for recently acquired midazolam by Sept. 28. He said Arkansas' legislators had an opportunity to grant pharmaceutical companies secrecy in a 2015 execution law, but didn't.

"They know what manufacturers are," Pierce said. "They knew what the issues were. They left out a key word not once, but twice and maybe 3 times."

In April, Shults won a similar case concerning information about potassium chloride, another execution drug. The case is being appealed to the state Supreme Court, and Arkansas also plans to appeal Pierce's ruling.

As its previous midazolam supply approached its expiration date in April, Arkansas scheduled 8 executions and carried out 4. They were the state's 1st executions after a nearly 12-year delay caused, in part, by drug manufacturers saying they didn't want their life-saving products used to take inmates' lives. Arkansas and other states in turn made many of their death penalty procedures secret, believing that firms and individuals involved in executions might be targeted by protests if their assistance was noted - and that the privacy might make some willing to help.

In court papers filed ahead of Tuesday's hearing, Shults' lawyer said Arkansas has not had trouble finding enough drugs to execute 2 more inmates. 1 execution is set for Nov. 9.

"Despite using its expiring supply of midazolam as a reason to schedule a record eight executions in 11 days in April of this year, ADC miraculously found a supplier to sell it 40 more vials for $250.00 cash," lawyer Alec Gaines wrote. "It seems evident that ADC is overplaying the difficulty involved in obtaining its supply of execution drugs."

The Associated Press used product labels in 2015 to identify which drugs Arkansas would use in executions against their makers' will. Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Merritt told Pierce on Tuesday that some of the manufacturers had objected to the state's use of their drugs and that the state hoped to stop future disclosures.

She also said the "legislative intent" was to extend secrecy to manufacturers, but that the law "could have been more artfully crafted."

Arkansas recently acquired enough of the sedative midazolam to conduct 2 executions, with Jack Greene set to die in 7 weeks. Shults previously went to court and won access to the package inserts for potassium chloride, an execution drug that stops the inmates' hearts.

Arkansas' 3rd execution drug is vecuronium bromide, which stops the inmates' lungs.

(source: swtimes.com)

IDAHO:

Jury selected in Coeur d'Alene to hear potential death penalty case of Jonathan Renfro

A jury finally was selected Thursday in Coeur d'Alene to hear the potential death penalty case against accused cop killer Jonathan D. Renfro.

Attorneys took 8 days to choose the panel from a group of 1,000 potential jurors, which is believed to be the biggest group of jurors called in Kootenai County history.

Opening arguments originally were set to start Thursday, but they instead will begin on Monday.

Renfro, 29, is charged with 1st-degree murder and several other charges in connection to the shooting death of Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore.

Moore had responded to an area in northwest Coeur d'Alene in the early hours of May 5, 2015, and he encountered a suspect who shot him in the face, took Moore's gun and drove off in his police car.

Prosecutors later charged Renfro who, according to court records, not only admitted his involvement in the shooting but predicted he may have been targeting police.

"The defendant boasted that a bullet within the magazine was a 'cop killer' bullet," the motion states. "When asked about what he would do if stopped by law enforcement, the defendant claimed he would go down murdering police officers."

The case will be prosecuted by Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh and deputies David Robins and Jed Whitaker. The defense includes Twin Falls attorney Keith Roark, who was appointed to represent Renfro along with Deputy Kootenai County Public Defenders Jay Logsdon and Linda Payne.

Appearing last before First District Judge Lansing Haynes, attorneys said they expected the trial to last 6 to 8 weeks, but it was not clear whether that time frame included jury selection.

If the jury convicts Renfro of 1st-degree murder, it would then be asked in a separate hearing whether the defendant should also face the death penalty.

(source: spokesman.com)

IRAN:

Iranian Resistance Call to Save 25 Youth Prisoners at Death Row----Some of the convicts were less than 18 years old when committing the attributed crime

The Iranian Resistance calls on international authorities, especially the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and all the defenders of the rights of children and youths to take immediate action to save 25 death row inmates at the youths ward in Ardebil's central prison youth section.

According to received reports, from 170 prisoners detained in this prison, 25 are sentenced to death. The rulings for some of them have been verified by the mullahs' Supreme Court. Some of them were under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning, September 18, Shahin Parsajou, 23, and a 40-year-old man were executed in Ardebil Prison. Shahin Parsajou was sentenced to 3 years in jail for being charged with robbery, but following a clash in prison, the regime formed a new case and sentenced him to death. The prisoner was hanged while his hands and feet were in chain. At the request of Ardebil's criminal prosecutor, the henchmen of Ardabil Central Prison, in order to exacerbate the atmosphere of intimidation, forced 50 prisoners to go to the execution area in order to watch the execution of these victims.

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

INDIA:

PIL asks Supreme Court abolish hanging as death penalty, bring in shooting or lethal injection

A petition in the Supreme Court has asked the court to do away with the practice of hanging death row convicts. The petition suggests that methods such as shooting or lethal injection be used instead.

The dormant debate on doing away with the practice of hanging death row convicts has revived momentum thanks to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court. Petitioner Rishi Malhotra, a Supreme Court advocate, has sought abolition of the present practice of hanging and suggested alternative methods such as intravenous lethal injection or shooting.

Holding that hanging involved prolonged pain and suffering compared to the other two suggested procedures, Malhotra quoted earlier judgments of the Supreme Court and recommendations of the Law Commission to bolster his case.

The petition said in Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab (1996), the Supreme Court had held that "the right to life, including the right to live with human dignity, would mean the existence of such a right up to the end of natural life. This also includes the right to a dignified life up to the point of death, including a dignified procedure of death. In other words, this may include the right of a dying man to also die with dignity when his life is ebbing out."

Drawing a comparison, the petition said while in hanging the entire execution process takes more than 40 minutes to declare a prisoner to be dead, the shooting process involves not more than a few minutes. In case of intravenous lethal injection, it's all over in 5 minutes.

Malhotra said the Law Commission's view was that developed as well as developing countries have replaced the execution by hanging with intravenous lethal injection or shooting, "which is most acceptable and humane method of executing death sentence involving less pain and suffering to a condemned prisoner".

EARLIER PRECEDENTS

Drawing attention to another SC judgment, Deena vs Union of India, Malhotra said in that case it was said the act of execution should be as quick and as simple as possible and free from anything that unnecessarily sharpens the poignancy of the prisoner's apprehension.

"The act of the execution should produce immediate unconsciousness passing quickly into the death, should be decent and should not involve mutilation," the SC had said.

Malhotra argued that the law panel in 1967 in its 35th Report had also noted the fact that most of the countries has either adopted electrocution, firing squad or gas chamber as a substitute for hanging.

He wants the Supreme Court to declare Section 354(5) of Criminal Procedure, which says "when any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead", declared violative of the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution.

He also wants that the right to die by a dignified procedure of death should be declared a fundamental right.

"Shooting and injecting with lethal poison necessarily involves lesser agony compared to hanging, which involves a torturous procedure of weighing the convict, measuring the height, etc. in order to determine the length of the drop," Malhotra said.

The lawyer argues that the execution as contemplated under Section 354(5) of CrPC (hung by the neck till the person is dead) is not only barbaric, inhuman and cruel, but also against resolutions adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that had categorically resolved that "where Capital punishment occurs, it shall be carried out so as to inflict minimum possible suffering".

(source: India Today)

SOUTH KOREA:

Death penalty sought for doctor accused of fatally poisoning wife

Prosecutors want the death penalty for a plastic surgeon accused of killing his wife with a lethal injection.

The Daejeon High Prosecutors' Office said on Wednesday it is seeking the highest punishment for the doctor, surnamed Bin, 45. He is suspected of killing his wife in March by injecting a lethal dose of poison into her while she slept at home. The doctor initially insisted she died of a heart attack. But police found evidence that led Bin to be prosecuted in April.

According to investigators, Bin and his wife were on bad terms for various reasons, and he killed her for assets registered in her name.

(source: koreatimes.co.kr)

SEPTEMBER 20, 2017:

GEORGIA----impending execution

Urgent Action: Juror Racism Claim As Execution Draws Near (USA: UA 216.17)

Keith Tharpe is scheduled to be executed in Georgia at 7pm on 26 September. He was sentenced to death for the murder of his sister-in-law in 1990. His appeal lawyers are trying to get back into court to argue that juror racism infected his 1991 trial.

TAKE ACTION

Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

Calling for Keith Tharpe's death sentence to be commuted;

Expressing deep concern at evidence of a juror's racist views uncovered on appeal, and at the fact that the courts did not consider it because of procedural issues;

Explaining that you are not seeking to downplay the seriousness of violent crime or its consequences.

Contact below official by 26 September, 2017:

State Board of Pardons and Paroles

2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE, Suite 458,

Balcony Level, East Tower,

Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909

USA

Fax: +1 404 651-6670

Email: webmaster@pap.ga.gov

Salutation: Dear Board Members

(source: Amnesty International USA)

******************

Trial set for man facing death in slayings of girlfriend, 6-month-old son

The Columbus man facing the death penalty in the 2014 homicides of his girlfriend and infant son could go to trial this coming January, a judge decided Tuesday.

In discussions with the defense and prosecution, Judge William Rumer suggested Brandon David Connerís trial be scheduled for Jan. 22 or Jan. 29, 2018.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly said the trial could take 4 weeks - 1 week to pick a jury and three to try the case, including a sentencing phase for jurors to decide whether the death penalty would be justified, were Conner found guilty.

The fire and arrest

After a house fire on Aug. 21, 2014, firefighters searching Rosella "Mandy" Mitchell's gutted 1324 Winifred Lane home found the bodies of the 32-year-old woman and her 6-month-old son Dylan Ethan Conner.

Arson investigators later searched the ruins with a dog that alerted to flammable liquids poured in three places. They also found a gas can stored in a closet. An autopsy revealed Mitchell was stabbed multiple times in the throat and torso. Authorities have not said how the infant died.

The fire was reported at 12:35 a.m.

25 minutes later, a Columbus police officer saw Conner's blue 2001 BMW turn from Wynnton Road onto Cedar Avenue and park near Davis Broadcasting, where Conner worked. Conner then sat in the car for 10 minutes, the officer said.

Because business burglaries had been reported in that area, Officer Jason Swails decided to question Conner, and saw the suspect apparently had blood on him, and was shaking and sweating as he handed Swails his driver's license.

Conner told the officer he had just left work, but Swails didn't believe that because he'd seen Conner turn off Wynnton Road and park. Swails said Conner then altered his story, claiming he'd left work to get some food, but changed his mind and returned.

The officer charged him with breaking a city law against lying to police. Because police routinely search suspects being detained, officers checked Conner's pockets, and found a bloody, yellow dishwashing glove, a bloody baby wipe, a cigarette lighter and an extended grill lighter.

Learning of the house fire where Conner's girlfriend and infant son were found dead, investigators took him to police headquarters for questioning. They had his BMW impounded, and got a warrant to search it. Inside they found a bag of bloody clothes, a bottle of bleach and a bent steak knife with blood on the handle, authorities said.

On April 14, 2015, a grand jury indicted Conner for murder, aggravated battery, 1st-degree arson and using a knife to commit a crime. 6 days later, District Attorney Julia Slater filed notice she would seek the death penalty.

The evidence issue

Conner's defense attorneys argue all the evidence officers seized in his initial arrest is inadmissible because prosecutors missed a deadline to prove the existence of the city ordinance Conner allegedly violated by lying to police.

The prosecution should have provided a certified copy of the law last year during arguments over suppressing the evidence, and they did not, say Kendrick and his colleague Mark Shelnutt.

They said the window to introduce such evidence closed April 29, 2016. The following May 4, they filed a motion noting the omission.

Kelly in a letter this past Jan. 30 and a follow-up court motion on Feb. 28 told Rumer prosecutors included a certified copy of the law in a brief filed June 10, 2016.

Rumer on Sept. 20, 2016, denied defense motions challenging the search and seizure of evidence, and this past June 14 ruled the prosecution properly filed a certified copy of the law with its brief last year.

On Tuesday, Rumer told Kendrick he would not allow an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court to review his ruling. Death-penalty cases allow such pretrial reviews to avoid errors that could lead to post-conviction appeals.

Rumer has set another pretrial hearing to cover any issues not previously addressed or resolved. He asked each side to file documents outlining those matters by Sept. 29, and to respond to each other's filings by Oct. 6. He set the hearing for 2 p.m. Nov. 9.

Conner, 38, is to attend that hearing, Kendrick said. The defendant was not at Tuesday's scheduling session. He's currently held in the Harris County Jail.

Among the issues likely to be addressed in the November hearing are which crime scene photos jurors should see, what victim-impact statements would be admissible, and what questions should be posed in surveys sent in advance to potential jurors, to speed jury selection.

Conner's is the 2nd case in which District Attorney Julia Slater has sought the death penalty since taking office in 2009. The 1st was the fatal shooting of local radio disc jockey Heath Jackson during a burglary at his Carter Avenue home on Sept. 7, 2010.

In May 2013, defendant Ricardo Strozier pleaded guilty to Jackson's homicide and a string of related crimes. Judge Gil McBride sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

(source: ledger-enquirer.com)

****************************

Georgia Wants to Execute Inmates Accused of Killing Guards----2 inmates accused of killing their guards on a Georgia prison bus 3 months ago have been indicted on multiple charges including murder and the state plans to seek the death penalty.

2 inmates accused of killing their guards on a Georgia prison bus 3 months ago were indicted Tuesday on multiple charges, including murder, and the state plans to seek the death penalty.

A grand jury indicted Donnie Russell Rowe, 44, and Ricky Dubose, 24. Each man faces 2 counts of murder, 2 counts of felony murder, 1 count of escape and 1 count of hijacking a motor vehicle.

Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stephen Bradley filed notice with the court Tuesday that he plans to seek the death penalty against both men.

Rowe and Dubose are accused of disarming and killing Sgts. Christopher Monica 42, and Curtis Billue, 58, while escaping from the prison transfer bus on June 13 in Putnam County, southeast of Atlanta. Authorities say the pair then carjacked a motorist to get away.

They were arrested 2 days later in Tennessee following an intense manhunt.

A review of the escape determined the 2 inmates were able to easily free themselves from their handcuffs and then used an improvised tool to open an unlocked gate that separated the inmates from the guards around 6:40 a.m. They then attacked and overpowered the guards, using the guards' own guns to kill them, authorities have said.

Rowe and Dubose then carjacked the 1st driver to pull up behind the bus and drove off in his green Honda Civic to Madison, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north, where they burglarized a house and stole a white Ford pickup truck from a quarry, authorities have said.

2 days later, they held a couple hostage during a violent home invasion in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and then fled in the couple's Jeep and fired on sheriff's deputies chasing them on Interstate 24 about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Nashville, authorities have said. The chase ended when the pair crashed the SUV, ran through some trees, climbed over a fence and surrendered to a homeowner.

A review by representatives from several state law enforcement agencies found that numerous security policy violations had been committed in the lead-up to the escape. The most egregious error was the failure to secure the gate to the inmate compartment in the bus, the review found. Monica and Billue also kept their guns in storage boxes rather than wearing them and failed to wear ballistic vests, among other errors, the review found.

(source: Associated Press)

OHIO:

Ohio's death penalty is back, and that's a good thing

Some people would argue that the death penalty is inhumane or a waste of time and money. Opinion writer Dawson Mecum disagrees.

Controversial political topics always seem to rotate between election years. But there are certain issues that are always at the top of the list and will stay there for as long as America has free speech. The death penalty is and forever will be one of the most controversial issues when it comes to modern politics. Those who oppose the death penalty accuse those who support it of being unethical and immoral, when in reality, the death penalty is necessary to serve and protect future victims.

Over the summer, Ohio had its 1st execution since 2014. Ronald Phillips was 19 years old when he committed one of the most heinous of crimes. Phillips was convicted of raping and murdering Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, in Akron in 1993. The execution was put on hold due to Phillips and 2 other inmates challenging that the usage of certain drugs in capital punishment was cruel and unusual.

The real cruel and unusual punishment was the rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl who never got to enjoy the life that was in front of her, and who never got to have those moments of childhood that we cherish and hold onto so dearly. But to some, the death penalty is an uncivilized idea that has no place in a civilized country like America.

The death penalty is a last resort option. The death penalty should not be about closure or revenge. It should simply be about bringing justice to those who commit crimes against humanity.

A life sentence in Ohio where the offense is 2nd degree murder is 15 years to life. So, what happens when the accused is released? According to the Institute of Justice, about 76.6 % of released prisoners are rearrested, and of those prisoners who were released, 56.7 % were arrested within their 1st year of being released. The death penalty makes sure that those who are convicted of rape, aggravated murder or any other heinous crime do not have the chance to harm anyone else. It negates the possibility of these criminals hurting anyone else.

The cost of the death penalty, however, is a concern. According to a study done by The Dayton Daily News, the cost of the death penalty in Ohio is an estimated $3 million per death penalty case, including execution per inmate. In comparison, the average cost of life without parole is estimated to be about $1 million. About $16 million in funds is used to maintain the death penalty in Ohio. While some argue these funds could be used in a more efficient way, it should be the price of saved lives and justice that matters more.

The death penalty should be done right, as well. In January of 2014, the same drug that was used in the Phillips execution was used in another where the inmate took an unusually long time to die. Witness reports say that the man struggled and was visibly in pain once the drug was administered. Drugs administered to inmates placed on death row should meet medical requirements and cause as little suffering as possible.

According to a study led by Samuel Gross at the University of Michigan, the true number of wrongly accused people sentenced to the death penalty is unknowable, but estimated to be between 1.6 and 4 %. This number should continue to go down with the improvements in technology and advances in the criminal justice field.

The death penalty does have a hint of uncertainty wrapped around it. With the constant changes between crime rates and executions, it is nearly impossible to determine whether the death penalty deters crime with the studies that have been conducted. The uncertainty of the deterrence rate brings the argument to a standstill.

The death penalty does not necessarily deter criminals from committing these heinous crimes, but what it does make sure of is that these evil and uncivilized human beings can never harm another soul, and that is the goal of justice - to make it easier for people to sleep at night knowing there is 1 less criminal out there.

(source: Opinion, Dawson Mecum; The New Political)

MISSOURI:

Death penalty sought in Tim Brokes murder case

Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty in the murder case against Timothy M. Brokes Jr.

Brokes, 36, has pleaded not guilty to charges of 1st-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the Jan. 12, 2016, shooting death of Brittany S. Gauch, 30, and to charges of 1st-degree assault and armed criminal action in connection with the shooting of her husband, Aaron M. Gauch, 32, the same day. Both were shot in Marion County.

Brokes also is facing charges in Monroe County after being accused of shooting a Monroe City police officer Jan. 13, 2016. Brokes has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault on a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action and hindering prosecution of a felony in Monroe County Circuit Court.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Marion County Prosecuting Attorney David Clayton wrote that Brokes had been convicted of unlawful use of a weapon in 1998 and armed robbery in 2001. In both cases, he pleaded guilty.

Clayton wrote that Brittany Gauch was shot in the presence of her 2-year-old child and the child was left alone with her mother's dead body.

"I announced from the start of this case that all options were on the table, including the death penalty," Clayton said. "The defendant was examined and found competent to proceed to trial. Once that stage was met, my office consulted with the Missouri attorney general's office. Based upon that consultation and additional information learned over the course of the ongoing investigation of the defendant, the decision was made to seek the death penalty."

Court filings allege that Brokes critically wounded Aaron Gauch on Hannibal's northwest side Jan. 12, 2016, and fatally shot Brittany Gauch at 1104 Summer in Hannibal 2 hours later. Both victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Courtroom testimony and video interviews from the case of June B. Smith, 35, who was with Brokes as he fled from authorities after the shootings, indicate that she and Brokes went to Quincy and then went to Monroe City to rest at a hotel. Smith said the pair went to a Shell gas station and a Family Dollar store in Monroe City on Jan. 13.

After Brokes and Smith left Family Dollar, they were approached by a Monroe City police officer. Smith said they gave false names, and when the officer went to check their identifications, they fled. The officer confronted them and alleged that Brokes shot him. The officer then subdued Brokes.

Brokes is being held by the Missouri Department of Corrections, serving a 5-year sentence for a 2013 conviction for possession of a controlled substance after his probation was revoked.

(source: The Herald-Whig)

ARIZONA:

Is Arizona's Death Penalty Law Constitutional?

A group of 20 former Arizona judges, prosecutors and legal experts are urging the Arizona Supreme Court to strike down our state's death penalty law.

If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, Hidalgo v. Arizona, that's the issue that will be at stake - whether or not the state's death penalty law is constitutional and should exist at all. The court is expected to decide whether or not to accept the case later this month.

If Arizona's death penalty law is unconstitutional, would that mean that there would be no death penalty in our state any longer? Not necessarily.

The argument being made is about the state's capital sentencing scheme. The court would be looking at how aggravating factors are taken into account in applying the death penalty.

(source: KJZZ news)

CALIFORNIA:

California dad pleads not guilty in deaths of his 3 children

Prosecutors charged a father Monday with 3 counts of 1st-degree murder in the deaths of his children, saying a belt was used in 2 of the killings.

Prosecutors filed the charges against 32-year-old Robert William Hodges in the deaths of 11-year-old Kelvin Hodges, 9-year-old Julie Hodges and Lucas Hodges, nearly 8 months.

Hodges pleaded not guilty during his 1st court appearance.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said the 2 older children were killed with a belt but would not say how it was used or give other details, including a motive.

The charging documents don't say how the infant was killed.

Prosecutors also charged Hodges with the attempted murder of his wife, Mai Hodges, after she called police Wednesday to report she had been assaulted.

A neighbor who came to the aid of Mai Hodges told CBS Sacramento she watched her husband leave his family's apartment the night of the murders, and that he showed no emotion.

"He seemed content," she said. "He seemed content. Absent. He was not in a rage."

Arriving officers found the three children dead and Robert Hodges missing; he was arrested hours later.

Authorities said Monday that Hodges was ordered held without bail for an Oct. 2 court appearance.

Deputy public defender Ron Johnson, who represented Hodges in court, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Hodges faces three special circumstance allegations that could bring the death penalty if he is convicted - 2 of lying in wait plus multiple murders.

"We have not yet determined if we intend to seek the death penalty," Reisig said at a news conference. The decision is months away after prosecutors weigh the circumstances of the case.

The prosecutor also said the facts of the crime would not be released to ensure that Hodges receives a fair trial.

Police have said Mai Hodges did not witness the slayings.

Relatives and neighbors have said there were no apparent problems or abuse in the marriage. Police said they had no history of calls to the family's apartment, and Robert Hodges had no significant criminal record.

(source: CBS news)

USA:

Dylann Roof's request for new attorneys denied

A move by convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to have his current attorneys removed and replaced was denied by the United States Court of Appeals Tuesday.

Citing a "conflict of interest" regarding politics and religion, the 23-year-old mailed a hand-written motion on September 13 to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing for the change in attorneys before an upcoming appeal in his conviction and death penalty sentence.

"Trust is a vital component in an attorney-client relationship, and is important to the effectiveness of the defense," wrote Roof, a self-avowed white supremacist who said he was trying to start a race war with the shooting at Emanuel AME. "Because of my political views, which are arguably religious, it will be impossible for me to trust two attorneys who are my political and biological enemies."

Roof appealed his conviction and sentence to a higher court in May after Judge Richard Gergel denied Roof's request for a new trial.

(source: ABC news)

INDIA:

Death penalty in hooch deaths in UP

Cases of hooch deaths could now attract death penalty in Uttar Pradesh. UP cabinet on Tuesday decided to amend the excise act providing for death penalty or life imprisonment in cases of hooch deaths in the state.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the cabinet here, official sources said. The decision was taken to deter manufacturing and selling illicit liquor in the state. Hundreds of lives are lost every year in the state from hooch.

Sources said that the amount of penalty in cases involving manufacturing illicit liquor had also been substantially hiked.

(source: Deccan Herald)

BARBADOS:

Call made for death penalty research

There is a need for research relating to the death penalty and how the general public views this type of punishment in Barbados.

This was the consensus after a session that was organised by Michelle Brathwaite, National Human Rights Officer for Barbados and the OECS at the United Nations, and conducted by Dr. Florence Seemungal; Dr. Lizzie Seal, Senior Lecturer of Criminology at the University of Sussex; and Dr. Lynsey Black, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University College Dublin.

During the seminar, which was held recently at UN House, the findings of 3 studies that were carried out in Trinidad on homicides in that nation; how the administrators of justice go about administrating their duties; and getting public opinion on the matter were revealed.

"The outcome was driven by the profile of the participants. So we had maybe around 26 persons and I would say that maybe around 80 % of the persons are legally trained. So they came with an understanding already of how the death penalty is imposed or not imposed, given the current legislation and case outcomes of the courts, and they came to find out exactly how we conducted the study of the methodology, how it may be applicable to Barbados. In Trinidad we used case characteristics which were typical for Trinidad homicides.

"So they looked at all of these nuances and they thought that in general it was important to do the research and that it was even more important to do it in a Barbadian context..."

(source: barbadosadvocate.com)

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017:

PENNSYLVANIA:

Relief hearing held for Lancaster man on death row for 2010 slaying of musician in Columbia

A Lancaster man sentenced to death for fatally shooting a local hip-hop musician in 2010 was at Lancaster County Courthouse Monday, attempting to convince the court that his case deserves another trial.

Jakeem Towles, 28, claimed his trial lawyers were ineffective in a Post Conviction Relief Act hearing held before Judge Howard Knisely.

Towles was convicted of killing Cornell 'Young E-Z' Stewart, 20, following a performance at a Columbia fire hall in May of 2010 and was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death in 2012.

In court filings, Towles has questioned whether his trial attorneys - Samuel Encarnacion and Patricia Spotts - erred in certain elements of the trial including his own ability to testify, his attorney's handling of certain evidence and witnesses; and for failing to object to the striking of 2 jurors based on gender. He has also called his death sentence unconstitutional.

Encarnacion, Spotts and Towles all testified about the case Monday.

Forensic psychologist Gerald Cooke, who diagnosed Towles with a personality disorder with antisocial and paranoid features, and a witness to the shooting, Robert Sanders, also testified.

Knisely is expected to make a ruling on the case in the coming months after attorney briefings are filed.

Towles is on death row at State Correctional Institution-Greene in Waynesburg, which is about 52 miles south of Pittsburgh.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed Towles' death sentence in 2014, finding Towles acted with malice and specific intent to kill when he opened fire on Stewart and others following a fight inside the building minutes earlier.

8 Lancaster County residents are currently on death row. No one has been executed in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a moratorium on the death penalty in 2015, calling the system "error-prone, expensive and anything but infallible."

(source: lancasteronline.com)

GEORGIA:

40 years after ritual serial killings, 'Stocking Strangler' Carlton Gary's appeals are running out

Saturday was the 40th anniversary of Columbus' 1st "Stocking Strangling," when 59-year-old Mary "Fern" Jackson was found murdered in her 2505 17th St. home.

She brutally had been beaten and raped, and strangled with a stocking and a sash. Her body was left covered.

That Friday morning, Sept. 16, 1977, the city did not foresee the terror to come, but it soon learned to its shock and horror a serial killer stalked the night, preying upon older women who lived alone, ritually killing each by strangulation with a ligature, usually a stocking, and leaving the body covered for others to unveil.

More 40th anniversaries are coming: Sept. 24 for the rape and murder of Jean Dimenstein, 71; Oct. 21 for Florence Scheible, 89; Oct. 25 for Martha Thurmond, 70; Dec. 28 for Kathleen Woodruff, 74; Feb. 12 for Mildred Borom, 78; and April 20 for Janet Cofer, 61.

Convicted and sentenced to death Aug. 27, 1986, for the rapes and murders of Scheible, Thurmond and Woodruff, with evidence in other cases used to show a pattern of criminal conduct, Carlton Gary today remains on Georgia's death row at the Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Born Sept. 24, 1950, he has an anniversary of his own coming up - his 67th birthday.

It could be his last.

Time is running out

With Muscogee Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan Jr.'s Sept. 1 50-page order denying Gary a new trial, the serial killer's final appeals are running out. Again.

They've run out before: On Dec. 16, 2009, Gary was to die by lethal injection, a method not in use when he was sentenced to the electric chair. Hours before his appointed time, the state Supreme Court issued a stay and sent the case back to Muscogee Superior Court for hearings on DNA-testing stranglings evidence. 8 more years of legal maneuvering ensued.

Now, with the DNA testing completed and argued at the Superior Court level, the next step is for Gary's defense team to file an application of appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, asking it to review Jordan's ruling.

Gary's lead attorney, Atlanta lawyer Jack Martin, has not returned calls for comment. Court clerks say so far no application has been filed.

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal, the defense files briefs and the prosecution responds, possibly with oral arguments before the court.

If the appeal is denied, the window through which Gary once more may escape death narrows significantly, as events pick up speed.

The defense may file a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which repeatedly has refused to hear Gary's case. Many of the issues raised in his new-trial motion already have been litigated in federal court.

If higher courts reject Gary's appeals, Jordan will issue a death warrant designating a week for the Department of Corrections to schedule Gary's execution.

In 2009, then-Superior Court Judge Robert Johnston issued a Dec. 3 death warrant book-ended noon Dec. 16 to noon Dec. 23. The Department of Corrections picked the 1st day.

Anyone sentenced to death gets one last shot at clemency with the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, which can commute the sentence to life in prison, or stay the execution for 90 days. The board in 2009 turned Gary down Dec. 15.

All of that - from the judge's order, to the corrections department's setting a date, to the parole board's denying clemency, to the day of execution - spanned 2 weeks, and could be just as quick this time around.

The board has a death-penalty case coming up: Keith Leroy Tharpe is sentenced to die for the 1990 kidnapping and murder of sister-in-law Jaqueline Freeman in Jones County. The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld his sentence and the U.S. Supreme Court denied his appeal.

The board meeting will be 9 a.m. Sept. 25. Tharpe is to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Sept. 26.

Under Georgia law, parole board meetings are closed to the press. "No public comment will be taken at this meeting and no other business will be conducted," says the notice for Tharpe's case.

The evidence in dispute

The legal standard Jordan used to weigh the evidence is set in the Georgia Supreme Court precedent Timberlake v. State, decided Sept. 23, 1980:

"It is incumbent on a party who asks for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence to satisfy the court: (1) that the evidence has come to his knowledge since the trial; (2) that it was not owing to the want of due diligence that he did not acquire it sooner; (3) that it is so material that it would probably produce a different verdict; (4) that it is not cumulative only; (5) that the affidavit of the witness himself should be procured or its absence accounted for; and (6) that a new trial will not be granted if the only effect of the evidence will be to impeach the credit of a witness."

2 crucial requirements are that the evidence be "new" and nothing the defense knew about or should have discovered, and that it be so significant it likely would have resulted in a different verdict or sentence.

Here are Jordan's rulings on the evidence Gary's attorneys presented:

Fingerprints. The defense argues police failed adequately to match fingerprints found at the Jackson, Scheible, Thurmond and Woodruff crime scenes to Gary, lacking sufficient "points of comparison" to declare a match, and failing to photograph where prints were found. Also Edward Covington, who served on a stranglings task force, said he was told no useable fingerprints were ever found.

Jordan said the fingerprint evidence was introduced and argued at Gary's 1986 trial, so it is not new.

-- The shoeprint. The day before Mildred Borom's body was found 2 blocks away on Forest Avenue, an intruder climbed through a window of Ruth Schwob's 1800 Carter Avenue home and tried to strangle the 70-year-old. She triggered an alarm, and the assailant fled. On an air-conditioning unit outside the window, police found a shoeprint about size 10. Gary wears a size 13 1/2.

Noting this relates not to a murder for which Gary was convicted, but to a similar case used to show his pattern, Jordan said the evidence likely would not have resulted in a different verdict.

-- The bite mark. On Cofer's left breast, investigators found a bite mark from which a dentist made a cast. This evidence was not presented during Gary's trial, and the defense claims prosecutors deliberately withheld it because it could have exculpated Gary. The cast was lost until then-Coroner James Dunnavant found it in a file cabinet Nov. 9, 2005.

A forensic dentist examining the cast said the biter's upper teeth had a gap, and his lower teeth were crowded, with 1 crooked. Gary's teeth had no such imperfections.

As this evidence also stems from a case for which Gary was not convicted, it likely would not have led to a different verdict, Jordan said.

-- The composite sketch. Authorities believe the Sept. 11, 1977, rape and beating of 64-year-old Gertrude Miller was a precursor to the subsequent stranglings. Following Thurmond's Oct. 25 murder, investigators had Miller hypnotized and told to describe her assailant as an artist made a sketch. The sketch does not resemble Gary, whom Miller identified as her attacker during his trial.

Jordan said the defense knew about the sketch in 1986, as Gary's defense attorney questioned Miller about it during cross examination, so it is not newly discovered evidence.

-- The confession. After his arrest in Albany, Ga., on May 3, 1984, Gary was brought to Columbus, where police escorted him on a tour of the area where the stranglings occurred. Police did not record what Gary told them, but testified he pointed out victims' homes, as well as other houses he'd broken into. During new trial hearings, the defense had an expert testify that even false confessions can be accurately detailed.

Jordan said the confession evidence was presented during Gary's 1986 trial, so it is not new.

-- The "secretor evidence." DNA testing was not available in 1986, so investigators had semen evidence tested for markers of the secretor's blood type. Most people are "strong secretors," meaning their blood type is readily apparent. Fewer are weak or "non-secretors." Prosecutors during Gary's trial presented testimony the strangler was a weak or non-secretor, and so was Gary. Later tests showed Gary was a strong secretor.

Jordan said this evidence, which was available to the defense at trial, likely would not have resulted in a different verdict.

-- The DNA evidence. After Gary's 2009 stay of execution, the defense and prosecution on Feb. 19, 2010, agreed to DNA-test suitable stranglings evidence. The initial results were mixed, matching Gary to Dimenstein's rape and strangling, but not Thurmond's. Later the GBI crime lab said it contaminated the Thurmond evidence with a "control sample" used to test lab equipment. Jordan then ordered DNA-testing on clothing police collected from Gertrude Miller's assault. The result did not match Gary.

As the conflicting DNA evidence relates to no murder for which Gary was convicted, it likely would not lead to a different verdict, Jordan ruled.

-- Adequate defense funding. From the outset an issue in Gary's trial was whether his attorneys had the funding to mount an effective defense. After his conviction, he appealed to the state Supreme Court, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. On June 26, 1987, the court sent the case back to Columbus for hearings on that issue. But during hearings the following November, Gary refused to waive attorney-client privilege so his lawyers could testify to their difficulties. Judge Kenneth Followill ruled Gary waived his right to such a challenge, and the state Supreme Court upheld Followill.

Jordan said he must abide by the Georgia Supreme Court's decision, so effectiveness of counsel is not an issue he can consider.

Carlton Gary timeline

This timeline was compiled from Columbus police, court records and Ledger-Enquirer archives:

Sept. 24, 1950: Carlton Michael Gary is born in Columbus, Ga., where he lives until age 16, when he moves with his mother to Fort Myers, Fla., and later Gainesville, Fla.

Sept. 3, 1964: Gary attends Carver High School.

Nov. 18, 1965: Gary attends Spencer High School.

Jan. 31, 1966: Gary returns to Carver High School and later transfers to Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Fla.

Oct. 31, 1967: Gary's charged with breaking into an automobile in Gainesville, Fla.

March 17, 1968: Gary's charged with arson in Gainesville, Fla.

Nov. 26, 1969: Gary's charged with assaulting a police officer in Bridgeport, Conn. April 14, 1970: Nellie Farmer, 85, is raped and strangled and her body left covered in her home in the Wellington Hotel, Albany, N.Y. Gary's fingerprint is found at the scene. Gary claims another man killed Farmer, and is convicted only of robbery.

July 15, 1970: Gary's sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbery.

March 31, 1975: Gary is released from prison and moves to Syracuse, NY.

June 27, 1975: The body of Marion Fisher, 40, is found on a road just outside Syracuse. She was raped and strangled. Authorities in 2007 say they match Gary's DNA to the cold-case evidence.

July 25, 1975: Gary's charged with escape, resisting arrest and violating parole.

July 17, 1976: Gary's released on parole.

Sept. 3, 1976: Gary's charged with assault.

Jan. 2, 1977: Jean Frost, 55, is raped and nearly choked to death in her home in Syracuse, N.Y. Gary has a watch taken from Frost's home when police arrest him 2 days later. Again he blames another man for the assault. He is charged with possessing stolen property, resisting arrest, perjury and assault.

Aug. 23, 1977: Gary escapes from New York's Onandaga County prison by jumping from a 3rd-floor window. He goes home to Columbus, where he soon moves to 1027 Fisk Ave.

Sept. 11, 1977: Gertrude Miller, 64, is beaten with a board and raped in her 2703 Hood St. home, about 2 blocks from Fisk Avenue. Her assailant leaves behind knotted stockings he took from her dresser. She in 1986 identifies Gary as the rapist.

Sept. 16, 1977: Mary Willis "Fern" Jackson, 59, of 2505 17th St., is found brutally beaten, raped and strangled with a stocking and sash. Her body is left covered. Her stolen car is later found on Benner Avenue near Fisk Avenue.

Sept. 24, 1977: Jean Dimenstein, 71, is found raped and strangled with a stocking in her home that then had the address 3027 21st St. (the street has since been renamed). Her body was left covered with sheets and a pillow Later tests match Gary's DNA to crime-scene evidence.

Oct. 4, 1977: Gary moves to 3231 Old Buena Vista Road.

Oct. 8, 1977: The 1427 Eberhart Avenue home of sisters Callye East, 75, and Nellie Sanderson, 78, is burglarized. Sanderson's son Henry is visiting. The intruder steals his Toyota, which has a .22-caliber Ruger pistol under the seat. The car's left on Buena Vista Road.

Oct. 21, 1977: Florence Scheible, 89, is found raped and strangled with a stocking in her 1941 Dimon St. home, which today has a different address. Her body was left covered. Gary's right thumbprint was found on a door frame leading into Scheible's bedroom.

Oct. 25, 1977: Martha Thurmond, 70, is found raped and strangled with a stocking in her 2614 Marion St. home. Her body was covered by a pillow, blankets and sheets. Gary's fingerprint is found on the frame of a rear bedroom window.

Nov. 11, 1977: Gary moves to 2829 Ninth St. and gets a job working the late shift at Golden's Foundry.

Dec. 16, 1977: Gary leaves the foundry job.

Dec. 20, 1977: The 1710 Buena Vista Road home of William Swift is burglarized while the residents are away. Swift later discovers the burglar removed bars from a kitchen window to get in, then set the bars back on the windowsill. Detectives later say Swift never told police this; Gary did.

Dec. 28, 1977: Kathleen Woodruff, 74, is found raped and strangled in her 1811 Buena Vista Road home, which later was demolished during an Aflac expansion. Gary's right little fingerprint is found on the aluminum window screen where the intruder entered, and his palm print is found on the windowsill just inside.

Jan. 1, 1978: The 2021 Brookside Drive home of Abraham Illges, who is 85 and whose wife is 75, is burglarized and a Cadillac stolen. The car's left at a restaurant on Victory Drive. Police say Gary later refers to this home as "the castle."

Feb. 11, 1978: Ruth Schwob, 74, of 1800 Carter Ave., is nearly strangled to death by an intruder she fights off, pressing a panic alarm by her bed. Police find her sitting on the edge of her bed, gasping, a stocking wrapped around her neck.

Feb. 11, 1978: The Illges home is burglarized again, but the intruder triggers an alarm and flees. Police said Gary later told them he ran and hid in Wildwood Park.

Feb. 12, 1978: Mildred Borom, 78, 1612 Forest Ave., about 2 blocks from Schwob's home on the west side of Wildwood Park, is found raped and strangled with a cord cut from window blinds. Her body's covered with a garment. This series of rapid events becomes known as "The Night of Terrors."

April 20, 1978: Janet Cofer, 61, of 3783 Steam Mill Road, is found raped and strangled with a stocking. A pillow covers her face. Police find Cofer's stolen car on Mill Road.

April 20, 1978: Gary robs the Burger King at 3520 Macon Road.

May 14, 1978: Gary robs the Hungry Hunter restaurant at 1834 Midtown Drive.

Sept. 4, 1978: Gary robs the Western Sizzlin restaurant at 4385 Victory Drive.

Sept. 22, 1978: Gary robs the Talk of the Town restaurant in Greenville, S.C.

Oct. 8, 1978: Gary robs the Ryan's Steakhouse in Greenville.

Oct. 19, 1978: Gary robs the Western Sizzlin steakhouse in Greenville.

Nov. 5, 1978: Gary robs the Po' Folks restaurant in Greenville.

Dec. 7, 1978: Gary robs Jack's Steak House in Greenville.

Feb. 15, 1979: Having earned the nickname "Steakhouse Bandit," Gary robs a Po' Folks restaurant in Gafney, S.C., and is arrested the next day.

Feb. 22, 1979: Gary is convicted of armed robbery in Greenville County, S.C.

March 29, 1979: Gary is convicted of armed robbery in Cherokee County, S.C.

March 15, 1984: He escapes from a prison in Columbia, S.C., and returns to Columbus.

April 3, 1984: Gary robs a Po' Folks restaurant on the 280 Bypass in Phenix City and rapes a woman who works there.

April 10, 1984: Henry Sanderson calls Columbus police to ask about the Ruger pistol taken from his Toyota in the 1977 Eberhart Avenue burglary. A detective sends out a nationwide alert for the gun, which turns up in Michigan and is traced back to Gary.

April 16, 1984: Gary robs a Wendy's restaurant in Gainesville, Fla.

April 22, 1984: Gary robs a McDonald's restaurant in Montgomery, Ala.

April 28, 1984: Gary robs the County Seat Store in the Oaks Mall of Gainesville, Fla.

April 30, 1984: Prompted by Sanderson's call and the gun trace, copies of Gary's fingerprints arrive at the Columbus Police Department, where one is matched to a print found on the frame of a screen removed from Woodruff's home.

May 3, 1984: Authorities arrest Gary in Albany, Ga.

May 4, 1984: From around midnight until 3:30 a.m., Gary takes investigators on a tour of homes he tells them he broke into. He blames the stranglings on another man.

May 8, 1984: Gary attempts suicide in jail.

May 9, 1984: Then Superior Court Judge John Land appoints attorneys William Kirby and Stephen Hyles to represent Gary.

Aug. 28, 1984: Attorney August "Bud" Siemon becomes Gary's lead defense counsel.

Oct. 11, 1984: Attorney Bruce Harvey becomes Gary's co-counsel. Attorney Gary Parker joins the defense team the following December.

Feb. 8, 1985: Siemon files a motion asking Judge Land to recuse himself because he has personal knowledge of the case. Land recuses himself.

May 13, 1985: Judge E. Mullins Whisnant is assigned the case.

May 22, 1985: Siemon files a motion asking Whisnant to recuse himself because he was the district attorney during the strangling.

May 20, 1985: Whisnant recuses himself and the case is assigned to Judge Kenneth Followill.

Dec. 18, 1985: Parker withdraws as co-counsel after Followill refuses to grant the defense team funds for an investigator.

Dec. 29, 1985: Gary tries to escape from jail.

March 10, 1986: On the day Gary's trial is to start, he refuses to get dressed and come to court. Harvey files a motion questioning Gary's competency to stand trial, saying the defendant's mental health is in decline. Followill orders a psychological evaluation.

March 24, 1986: Gary goes to Georgia Central State Hospital in Milledgeville for his evaluation, but refuses to cooperate with doctors.

April 21, 1986: Followill holds a trial to determine Gary's mental competency.

April 28, 1986: The jury finds Gary competent for trial.

June 9, 1986: Gary's trial is set to begin, but Siemon files for a change of venue.

July 2, 1986: Followill decides that instead of moving the trial, the court will bring jurors from Griffin, Ga., to hear the case.

July 7, 1986: Harvey withdraws, leaving Siemon as Gary's only lawyer.

Aug. 11, 1986: Gary's trial begins.

Aug. 26, 1986: The jury finds Gary guilty in 3 of the 7 stranglings, though then District Attorney Bill Smith maintains one perpetrator committed all 7 along with the attack on Miller and Schwob. Smith used evidence from the other cases to illustrate a pattern of criminal behavior.

Aug. 27, 1986: The jury sentences Gary to death.

Sept. 25, 1986: Gary moves for a new trial. His motion's denied the following Oct. 18, and he appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court.

June 26, 1987: The Georgia Supreme Court sends the case back to Columbus, instructing the court here to determine whether Gary had ineffective counsel.

Nov. 4, 1987: Followill holds hearings to determine the effectiveness of Gary's defense.

June 12, 1989: Followill rules Gary failed to show his counsel was ineffective.

March 6, 1990: The Georgia Supreme court upholds Followill's ruling and reaffirms Gary's conviction and death sentence.

Jan. 27, 1995: The superior court of Butts County, Ga., where Gary is imprisoned, rejects 1 of his habeas corpus appeals.

Nov. 13, 1995: The court rejects another of Gary's habeas corpus appeals.

Nov. 18, 1997: Gary files a habeas corpus appeal in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

Sept. 28, 2004: The federal court rejects Gary's appeal, and he appeals to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nov. 9, 2005: Then-Coroner James Dunnavant finds a bite-cast mold made from teeth marks on Janet Cofer's body. It has been missing since Dunnavant's predecessor Don Kilgore died.

Nov. 23, 2005: The appeals court sends the case back to U.S. District Court to consider the bite-mark evidence.

Feb. 14, 2007: The district court holds a hearing and decides the bite cast would not have bolstered Gary's defense and again rejects his appeal. Gary again appeals to the 11th Circuit.

Feb. 12, 2009: The 11th Circuit rejects Gary's appeal. He appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dec. 1, 2009: The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Gary's appeal. His execution is set for the following Dec. 16.

Dec. 16, 2009: Gary is hours away from execution when the Georgia Supreme Court issues a stay and sends the case back to Muscogee Superior Court to consider DNA testing evidence.

Feb. 19, 2010: Prosecutors and defense attorneys agree to DNA test suitable evidence samples, four items from 3 cases: Dimenstein, Scheible and Woodruff.

Dec. 14, 2010: Attorneys say the initial DNA test results match Gary to the murder of Jean Dimenstein but not Martha Thurmond. The defense seeks testing on clothes from Gertrude Miller the morning after she was raped and beaten.

March 6, 2012: Tests of the Miller evidence yield a DNA profile that does not match Gary. The prosecution says the defense can't prove Miller was wearing the garments when raped.

Nov. 21, 2013: District Attorney Julia Slater announces the Thurmond DNA test was tainted at the state crime lab and thus invalid.

February 24-28, 2014: Judge Frank Jordan Jr. holds evidentiary hearings on Gary's new trial motion.

Jan. 11, 2016: Doug Grubbs, son-in-law of sheriff's investigator Don Miller, in the attic finds a briefcase containing files on the strangling. He turns it over to the sheriff's office.

Jan. 27, 2016: The defense is told of the briefcase.

Feb. 3, 2016: Both sides meet to inspect the documents. They find a composite sketch believed to have been drawn as Gertrude Miller described her assailant under hypnosis in October 1977.

Jan. 12-12, 2017: Jordan holds a final set of hearings on the new evidence in Gary's motion for a new trial.

June 27, 2017: The prosecution files a motion asking Jordan to issue a ruling.

Sept. 1, 2017: Jordan denies Gary's motion for a new trial in a 50-page ruling.

(source: ledger-enquirer.com)

FLORIDA:

Defense seeks to sway jurors away from death penalty vote in 1987 strangulation murder----Jury to consider death sentence in 1987 killing

Hoping to convince a jury to spare Rodney Clark's life, the convicted murderer's lawyers on Monday presented testimony about both his troubled past and potential for redemption.

Clark was found guilty last month in the June 20, 1987, strangulation killing of Dana Fader, 27. He was not arrested until late 2012, following a DNA match to evidence collected from the suburban Lake Worth crime scene.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, based partly on Clark's prior rape conviction for which he served 8 years in a Mississippi prison. The Palm Beach County jury is expected to hear final arguments Tuesday and then begin deliberations.

The punishment phase of the trial began Sept. 6 - 2 of Fader's 3 children testified about growing up without her - but was interrupted by Hurricane Irma.

Public Defender Carey Haughwout says there are a myriad of reasons to sentence Clark to life in prison rather than send him to death row. She said her 50-year-old client suffered early in life, when he was raised by an abusive mother in his birthplace of Jackson, Miss.

"She was mean one day and good the next," testified Johnny Jones, a 1-time step-dad to Clark when the defendant was a toddler.

The mom's preferred method of discipline was setting fire to a piece of paper and holding it near the child, Jones said.

Asked by prosecutors Brian Fernandes and Reid Scott if he ever reported the burning paper punishment to police, Jones said he never did but always tried to look after Clark and his siblings.

Clark and Jones, 69, exchanged smiles and waves when he entered and departed Circuit Judge Charles Burton's courtroom.

Frank Figgers, another witness from Clark's hometown, told the jury about the difficulties that African-Americans faced in Mississippi in the 1960s because of segregation and civil rights violations.

Figgers, who works as a community development specialist and leads history tours in Jackson, said Clark was likely exposed to poisoning from lead paint in his childhood house in a poor, black neighborhood.

Michael Sweet, a pastor from Jackson, testified that he met Clark and became fast friends with him in 2011 when Clark, unemployed and homeless, took shelter in his ministry.

"A very good person, a man that's trying to change his life," Sweet said of Clark, noting he took and passed random drug and alcohol tests.

When prosecutor Fernandes pressed Sweet about whether Clark ever reported his status as a sex offender, or mentioned the Fader murder, Sweet said no.

Clark's lawyers called medical experts to discuss Clark's diagnoses of brain damage, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, diabetes, spinal pain, and other ailments. The defense says Clark, a father of 2, is in a wheelchair today because he fell from the top of a house while working for a roofing company.

The prosecutors want the jury to consider Clark's 1988 Mississippi rape conviction and 2 other so-called aggravating factors to agree that a death sentence is warranted.

One is an allegation that Clark raped Fader in addition to killing her, though he wasn't charged with sexual battery. According to court testimony, detectives matched Clark's DNA to a semen stain on Fader's dress. Clark's palm print was also found on a window of Fader's car, where she was killed in the back seat.

The final factor is that the murder was "heinous, atrocious and cruel" because Clark held his victim's throat and stopped her from breathing, the prosecutors said. It was labeled a random attack because Clark and Fader had no previous connection.

Under Florida's new death penalty law, unanimous jury votes now are required to impose capital punishment. This is the 1st test of the updated law in Palm Beach County.

(source: Sun-Sentinel)

ALABAMA:

Justice Delayed: 10 Years in Jail, but Still Awaiting Trial

Kharon Davis was 22 when he was charged with capital murder and booked into the county jail. 10 years later, he is still there, awaiting trial.

He has had 2 judges, 4 teams of lawyers and nine trial dates, the 1st of which was in 2008. His case has outlasted a district attorney who served for nearly 3 decades. It defies any common understanding of the right to a speedy trial.

As the case has languished, Mr. Davis, whose only prior offense was driving without a license, has been segregated from the jail's general population for minor transgressions like unauthorized peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and a couple of more serious ones, like fighting. His mother, Chrycynthia Davis, says she has been allowed to visit him just once in the last 3 years.

Though he has not been found guilty, Mr. Davis has already served half of the minimum sentence for murder.

The case, State of Alabama v. Kharon Torchec Davis, underscores how the country's justice system can founder at many levels, especially for poor defendants. And it exposes the loopholes in the constitutional protections that are supposed to ensure that both the victims and the accused receive timely justice.

In capital murder cases, in which the defendant faces the death penalty, it is not unusual to spend 2 or 3 years behind bars awaiting trial if the defendant is not granted bail or is unable to afford it. But a decade is extreme. Mr. Davis's wait is among the most protracted that The New York Times could find.

Mr. Davis's case has suffered from misplaced evidence, conflicts of interest, and restrictions on his ability to review his own legal documents in jail, according to interviews and a review of his case file. His lawyers and prosecutors share the blame for the delay, as does Mr. Davis himself. At a hearing early last year, for instance, Mr. Davis insisted on replacing his 2nd team of court-appointed lawyers, saying he did not trust them, even though the judge warned that doing so would further delay his trial.

"It is impossible to look at it," said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University, of the case, "and not find it deeply, deeply troubling."

Mr. Davis maintains he is innocent and has declined offers of a plea deal. In February, after the election of a new district attorney who had a conflict of interest, the state attorney general took over the prosecution and dropped pursuit of the death penalty. Jury selection in the trial finally began on Monday.

The basic facts of Pete Dwayne Reaves's death are not in dispute. On a Friday night in June 2007, Mr. Davis and 2 other men drove to his apartment, looking to buy marijuana. The visit quickly went bad: Mr. Reaves was shot twice. He died from the gunshot wounds.

1 of Mr. Davis's companions was a childhood friend, Kevin Bernard McCloud, who like Mr. Davis had no prior criminal record. The other was an older man, an acquaintance named Lorenzo Stacey, who had a rap sheet that included burglary and cocaine possession.

All 3 men were charged with capital murder, but their cases had very different outcomes.

Mr. Stacey, who was acquitted in 2009, maintained that he had stayed in the parking lot, and entered the apartment only after hearing the gunshots.

Mr. McCloud's lawyer said that his client heard Mr. Davis yell at him to get down and then felt a pain in the back of his neck. Mr. McCloud had been shot by a bullet that passed through him and struck Mr. Reaves. In 2011, Mr. McCloud took a plea deal, agreeing to testify against Mr. Davis in exchange for being spared the death penalty. He was sentenced to 99 years.

Prosecutors have said that the three friends were wearing masks and intended to rob Mr. Reaves, and argued that Mr. Davis had fired a stolen 9-millimeter handgun. It was Mr. Stacey who told the police where to find the gun, claiming that Mr. Davis had hidden it behind a Dumpster, but no fingerprints were found on it.

In a letter Mr. McCloud sent to Mr. Davis's mother after he accepted the deal, he assured her that he would not do anything to hurt her son.

The prosecutor at the time, Douglas A. Valeska, wanted him to "get on the stand and lie, and I'm not going to do that," Mr. McCloud wrote. The judge has ordered that Mr. McCloud be transported to court for the trial. Mr. Valeska did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.

In the summer of 2015, Mr. Davis's lawyer, Derek Yarbrough, was looking through an evidence box from Mr. Stacey's trial when he found something that could shape the outcome for his client: a forensic kit with the results of a gunshot residue test.

The kit indicated that Mr. Davis had tested positive for residue. But it did not include further analysis needed to determine whether it came directly from a gunshot, or from an indirect source like a car seat. Mr. Davis's current lawyers would not say whether that analysis has since been done.

From the beginning, there was something peculiar about the way the Davis case ground through the legal system. His first lawyer, Benjamin Meredith, was the father of one of the investigating officers, Frank Meredith. At a preliminary hearing, the elder Mr. Meredith cross-examined his son.

But it was 4 years before anyone raised a concern about the potential conflict of interest. In 2011, Mr. Valeska, the district attorney, finally brought it up. Judge Kevin Moulton, who had taken over the case in 2010, removed Mr. Meredith, who had initially been hired by Mr. Davis's mother, but became a court-appointed lawyer when she could no longer afford the bill.

Mr. Valeska did not respond to inquiries on why he waited so long.

In all that time representing Mr. Davis, Benjamin Meredith had filed only 2 motions.

More delays followed: Mr. Davis's new lead counsel, Mr. Yarbrough, needed time to finish another murder case. The trial was postponed when the gunshot residue kit was found, and again when Mr. Davis's lawyers said they needed more time. Finally, it was set for April 2016.

Alabama's method of handling indigent defense has long been criticized as deeply flawed, particularly in death penalty cases. It underwent some changes in 2011, but judges still handpick defense lawyers, and they are paid only $70 an hour - less than half the federal pay rate for capital defenders and far too low to attract experienced death penalty lawyers, said Lisa Borden, who oversees pro bono programs at the Baker Donelson law firm in Birmingham. In 2011, former judges on the state's highest courts told the United States Supreme Court that capital defendants in Alabama faced "a lack of qualified counsel at all stages."

Particularly in rural communities like Dothan, the legal community can be small enough to make conflicts hard to avoid. The newly elected district attorney could not prosecute the case because he had previously represented 1 of the 3 men accused in the murder.

By August 2015, Mr. Davis had lost faith in his lawyers, complaining of delays. Both Mr. Davis and the lawyers themselves asked that they be removed from the case.

The judge determined that the lawyers were adequately representing Mr. Davis, and warned that new lawyers could delay the trial by another 2 to 3 years, but Mr. Davis insisted. His next lead counsel lasted 6 months before discovering that he had once represented a relative of the victim.

In late 2015, when Mr. Davis had been in jail for 8 years, his mother tried to help him herself, hiring a legal document preparation service for $100.

The result, a rambling petition to a federal court, went nowhere. But it was the 1st filing in Mr. Davis's case to invoke his right to a speedy trial.

The right to a speedy trial does not come with a clear definition of speed. Rather, the Supreme Court established in 1972 a 4-part test for whether the right had been violated: the length of the delay, the reasons, the time and manner in which a defendant has asserted the right and the degree to which the defendantís case might be harmed.

Delays can sometimes benefit defendants, who may purposefully try to stall until witnesses die or memories fade. Defendants who cause their own delays may be deemed to have waived their right to a speedy trial.

In Mr. Davis's case, he knowingly delayed his trial by demanding new lawyers, but one of his stated reasons has been their failure to bring the case to trial.

When Mr. Davis's current lawyers, Thomas M. Goggans, Dustin Fowler and Christopher Williams, finally filed their own speedy trial motion, they focused on the 4 years when he was represented by Mr. Meredith, saying that delay was not their client's fault.

But Judge Moulton said Mr. Davis was entirely to blame: "All delays in this case are attributable to the defendant," he wrote.

He also said the claim was too late. "The defendant has waited 10 years to assert his right to a speedy trial in the form of a motion to dismiss, which comes approximately five months prior to the trial date," he said.

A clerk for Judge Moulton said he would not comment further on an active case.

Judges must try to steer clear of situations that may be grounds for appeal, said William Lee Pfeifer Jr., an appellate lawyer in Alabama. "The judge is in a difficult position because he does not want a defendant going to trial with lawyers he doesn't like or trust, or lawyers who have issues like conflicts of interest."

But ultimately judges, not defendants, control the court calendar.

"The court has to gain control of the case and not let it petrify," said Mr. Turley, the constitutional law expert. "This is like a railroad saying, 'This is an awful train wreck.' Well, the train belongs to the railroad."

The delays have been agonizing not only for Mr. Davis, but for the family of Mr. Reaves.

"You can just imagine losing a child or a brother and then something like this happens, for more than 10 years," said 1 of his 4 brothers, Malcolm Reaves. "It's been so long."

Mr. Reaves suggested that the delays might be part of a defense strategy by Mr. Davis. "It's all about buying time," he said.

Mr. Davis, though, insists that he would like nothing more than his day in court. In jail, he has been written up enough times, for offenses that include insulting guards, possessing pornography, and writing in his jail-issued Bible, to be kept in a segregated cell until 2021. "I'm in a position where you have to violate just to stay sane," Mr. Davis wrote in a letter to The New York Times after a request for an interview went unanswered by jail officials.

Ms. Davis contends that her son's treatment has been abusive and that he has not regularly received prescribed medications for depression and anxiety. In 2013, his lawyers filed a motion complaining that the jail was not allowing him to review all his own case files.

"My son has been locked away and kept from me for 10 years like an impounded dog or an unwanted animal," Ms. Davis said.

Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza, who runs the jail, did not respond to numerous phone calls and emails.

In a letter to his mother in June of last year, Mr. Davis described his treatment as "some type of mockery."

"I feel like a foolish mascot," he wrote, "parading to and from the courthouse."

(source: New York Times)

OHIO:

Jurors seated in capital murder trial

Jurors in the aggravated murder trial of Christopher Peters were seated Monday afternoon.

The 12 jurors and 2 alternates, along with attorneys and court officials, then traveled to the scene of the alleged crime in Delphos as what is expected to be a weeklong trial with capital punishment implications got fully underway.

Peters, 27, of Delphos, is charged with aggravated murder in the death of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger on Nov. 15 at The Old Lincoln Inn, 24249 Lincoln Highway on the west edge of Delphos. If convicted, Peters could face the death penalty. He previously pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder; felonious assault, a 2nd-degree felony; and endangering children by abuse, a felony of the 2nd degree.

The mother of the victim, 24-year-old Valerie Dean, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in connection with her son's death. The infantís body was found inside an apartment at 24249 Lincoln Highway in Van Wert County. Her case will be heard separately from that of Peters.

Judge Martin Burchfield is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last at least a week.

Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick in presenting the state's case against Peters as the special counsel appointed by Burchfield. He is being assisted by Van Wert County Prosecutor Eva Yarger. Lima attorney Bill Kluge is serving as the lead defense attorney, joined by fellow Lima attorney Bob Grzybowski.

During the jury selection process that ran throughout most of the day Monday, prospective jurors were questioned about their knowledge of the case, their views on the death penalty, and whether the fact that the victim in the case was an infant would cloud their decision-making process. Many potential jurors were excused after saying they believed they could not be fair and impartial in judging the facts of the case for various reasons.

By mid-afternoon Monday, 23 potential jurors had been selected to be part of the jury pool. Shortly after 3 p.m. a jury of 6 men and 6 women - along with 2 alternates - was sworn in to get the trial underway.

Jurors will hear opening arguments from attorneys Tuesday morning.

(source: limaohio.com)

UTAH:

Costly and complicated: How effective is the death penalty in Utah?

Salt Lake County is pursuing its 1st death penalty case in years.

District Attorney Sim Gill is leading that case against Ramon Rivera, 31, who is accused of brutally killing a fellow inmate in prison last year.

"This is something that I struggle with on a personal level and as a professional," Gill said, "but it is a tool that our Legislature has given to us."

But it's expensive to keep people on death row. Past reports peg the cost of a death row case at $1.6 million more than just going for life in prison.

It's also becoming more and more complicated.

There are the 9 people sitting on Utah's death row. Of those, 2 - Douglas Lovell and Floyd Maestas -- don't even have permanent attorneys leading their cases, according to Utah Courts spokesman Geoff Fattah.

"I am not totally surprised," said Stewart Gollan, executive director of the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "There is very limited money."

He said that makes it difficult to find qualified attorneys able to take on these cases.

Gollan said his organization opposes the death penalty and hopes to see it abolished in Utah. Former State Sen. Steve Urquhart pushed a bill 2 years ago, but it failed.

"The death penalty is going to continue to be far, far, far more expensive than simply seeking life without parole in prison for these kinds of defendants," said Gollan.

As for the case against Rivera, Gill said it's a tough one and he acknowledged the debate surrounding the death penalty. But Gill said he's made his decision, and it's "something I do not absolutely take lightly at all."

(source: KUTV news)

*****************

2 death row inmates need new attorneys - but will anyone sign up?

Wanted: An attorney to represent a Utah man condemned to death.

Must be licensed to practice law in the state of Utah and meet the state's special qualifications for death penalty cases.

The pay is about $125 per hour - but co-counsel in one case will warn you, there's been trouble actually getting paid. And the last guy who had the job? He left because payment issues and threatened disciplinary sanctions took a toll on his health.

9 men are currently on Utah's death row. 2 of them - 61-year-old Floyd Maestas and 59-year-old Douglas Lovell - currently have no qualified lead attorney representing them as they appeal their capital murder convictions in state court.

And while the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers isnít telling its members to not apply for the job, it's not exactly encouraging them to do so either.

Executive Director Stewart Gollan said the organization has "strongly encouraged" its members to think carefully about what they're signing up for if they take on either case. An attorney should consider the "significant practical and ethical bind" they might put themselves in by signing onto a complicated and weighty death penalty appeal, he said, given past defense attorneys' issues with getting compensated for their own work or funding to hire experts.

"There seems to be some pretty significant financial limitations that are being imposed to the attorneys representing the defendant," Gollan said. "These [cases] are extremely burdensome on the attorney. Our concern is that, certainly, it puts attorneys in a bind and it also is not in the interest of the defendant."

Anyone who is charged with a crime that includes the possibility of jail time - in Utah, that is anything more serious than an infraction - is entitled to an attorney, even if they can't afford one. For death penalty cases, those attorneys must be experienced and qualified under court rules.

Utah is 1 of 2 states in the nation that delegates the responsibility to provide defense lawyers to individual counties and cities.

There are 2 ways in which Utah's counties are funding defense lawyers in death penalty cases: Most pay into a state-managed fund, a sort of insurance policy from which officials can request money if they have a death penalty-eligible case in their county.

But 5 of the state's 29 counties - Salt Lake, Weber, Summit, Wasatch and Utah - don't pay into the fund, according to Utah court officials. Instead, each of those counties uses its own money to contract with individual attorneys.

Lovell's case is on direct appeal with the Utah Supreme Court but has been sent back to 2nd District Court in Weber County for a remand hearing. Weber County is currently funding the defense costs.

Maestas is seeking post-conviction relief, a court process that is funded by the state's Division of Finance, in Salt Lake County's 3rd District Court.

Appellate attorney Samuel Newton represented both men until recently, when he withdrew after stress related to funding issues began causing him heart problems.

Now, 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy is tasked with appointing a new attorney for Maestas. The state courts have posted an opening with the Utah State Bar, and Skanchy has ordered second-chair attorney John Boden to find someone qualified to take the lead on the case.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Boden said he has drafted a letter and sent it to several qualified attorneys - but adds that he's "disheartened" after hearing about those attorneys' experiences in past cases.

In his letter, Boden writes that while there are issues surrounding Maestas' factual innocence that need to be tackled, any applicant should also know that there have been payment issues.

"We are each solo practitioners," Boden said of himself and Newton. "I cannot afford health insurance, and bankruptcy keeps leering at me, as well as it has at Sam."

The judge also ordered Boden to serve as lead chair in the case temporarily - an appointment that Boden has objected to. The attorney, who practices family law and is a certified public accountant, wrote in court papers that heís never done a post-conviction review, never served as an attorney in a felony case and has no experience in civil cases at trial.

Newton asked Boden to sign on to Maestas' case, Newton wrote in an affidavit, because no qualified attorney would step in and he knew Boden was "very good with people" and could interview mitigation witnesses.

Before Newton was allowed to withdraw from their cases, Maestas and Lovell pleaded with their respective judges that Newton be paid and allowed to continue representing them.

"I'm asking you to pay him ... plus allow him to stay on my case," Maestas scribbled in a letter to the judge. "Cuz myself + Mr. Newton have a great relationship + we never fight + we get along very well.

At an August hearing, Lovell asked the judge in his case to order the county and Newton to renegotiate the contract. But Judge Michael DiReda said he couldn't involve himself in a contract dispute.

In his remarks to the judge, Lovell echoed a sentiment that critics of Utah's public defender system have been voicing for years: Flat-fee contracts incentivize attorneys to do less work.

"It's to his advantage to do as little work as possible, to talk to me as little as possible," Lovell says in an audio recording of the Aug. 29 hearing. "Because it's getting into that money thing. That's happened time after time after time on this case. That's why I was hoping the court would ..." Lovell takes a long pause before the judge says: "Step in and -"

"Say enough's enough," Lovell finishes.

"Well, it's not that I don't feel enough is enough," DeRida tells Lovell. "There is a difference between feeling it and being able to articulate it in terms of an order. I don't think this scenario is a good scenario. But it is the statutory scenario that our Legislature has created."

DeRida said at the August hearing that if Weber County doesn't have an attorney for Lovell by Wednesday, he'll step in and appoint one himself and oversee payments.

But Deputy Weber County Attorney Bryan Baron - who works in the county's civil division and handles contracts - said they are hoping to have an attorney hired by the judge's deadline.

"I think we will," he said Thursday. "We've not had as many attorneys [apply] as I had hoped, but a few have expressed interest in the case."

Baron also disputes Newton's assertion that he wasnít paid in Lovell's case or that a financial cap was put on him for the remand hearing. He said the county placed a "soft cap," but Newton could have asked for more money if he could show it was needed.

"We had never given him a firm amount, saying, "We won't pay you anymore than this," Baron said. "We want to see that Doug Lovell gets adequate representation."

Funding for the defense in death penalty cases has been a problem in Utah for decades, according to attorney Ralph Dellapiana, who is the chairman of UACDL's capital case committee. Experienced attorneys aren't going to work for free, he said, and oftentimes those who do take the contracts don't understand the complexity of a death penalty review.

"That's a problem, the state refusing to pay qualified counsel to do the necessary work for appeals in death penalty cases," Dellapiana said. "And the solution is either to pay for it or end the death penalty."

Newton and others have expressed concern that state and county officials so far have disproportionately funded prosecutors' offices who are seeking an execution and have not done the same for the defense.

"The state gives enormous resources to the prosecution," Newton told The Tribune in an email. "The state must similarly commit to equally and adequately support criminal defense attorneys, which is a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution. The defense attorney, especially a solo practitioner, should not have to personally bear and front the financial cost for the enormous review required in a capital case."

Lovell admitted he killed 39-year-old Joyce Yost in 1985 in the mountains east of Ogden to keep her from testifying that he had previously raped her. He pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in 1993, after striking a plea deal that spared him the death penalty if he could lead authorities to her body. The search was fruitless, however, and he was sentenced to die by lethal injection. But in 2011, he was allowed to withdraw his plea after the Utah Supreme Court ruled he should have been better informed of his rights during court proceedings. A jury again convicted him to death in a 2015 trial. His case is currently on a direct appeal. His appellate attorney has argued in court papers that one of Lovell's trial attorneys did not contact a number of witnesses who wanted to testify on his behalf, and did not object to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints limiting what bishops who worked with Lovell at the prison could say on the stand. His case was recently remanded back to the district court for an evidentiary hearing.

Maestas was convicted of killing 72-year-old Donna Lou Bott by stomping her to death during a break-in and robbery at her Salt Lake City home in 2004 and was sentenced to death in 2008. The Utah Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in 2012, ruling the defense hadn't shown Maestas had a significant mental handicap that would exempt him from the death penalty or keep him from understanding the proceedings, among other points. He is now seeking post-conviction relief in state court. There, his attorneys have argued there are issues with the DNA and fingerprint evidence used against him, and have said one of the men involved in the crime has since recanted and said Maestas was framed. Maestas has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.

(source: Salt Lake Tribune)

NEVADA:

Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret----Scott Dozier faces loss of prison privileges in last months of life if he discloses death manual details.

While Scott Raymond #Dozier, 45, waits for his date with death in November at Ely State Prison, NV, the condemned inmate and his attorneys were granted approval in court on Thursday to review Nevada's #execution manual, according to KNPR and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti cautioned his lawyers, however, that she can sever Dozier's communication with people, outside of prison, if their client discloses prison information that is confidential and contained within the manual.

An agreement was worked out in court that permits Dozier and his lawyers to see portions of the execution manual that were previously redacted, the Review-Journal reported.

The manual's details are not available to the public. Judge Togliatti seeks to ensure that the inmate does not leak parts of the document to anyone - his fellow inmates, family, or friends. If Dozier does disclose contents from the manual the judge warned that she can strip his prison privileges for the remainder of his life, which is 2 months away.

Condemned inmate's lawyers want execution details reviewed by medical expert

The reason Dozier and his attorneys sought access to the stateís execution manual is that the inmateís federal public defenders want a medical expert to review the details. Not since the April 2006 execution of Daryl Mack has a Nevada inmate been put to death by capital punishment in the state. Dozier is next in line and the 1st inmate to experience Nevada's new $860,000 execution chamber.

Dozier was convicted twice of murder. His 1st conviction was in 2006 for 2nd-degree murder in Arizona. He was convicted of murder by a Clark County, NV, jury in 2007 and received the death penalty for killing Jeremiah Miller, 22, in 2002.

The drug cocktail that will be injected into Dozier to deliver death was recently reported by prison officials, the Review-Journal noted. The #Lethal Injection protocol will include diazepam, fentanyl, and cisatracurium, which is a paralytic.

Some say state statute poses ethical conflict for doctor consulting on execution

The pending execution does not come without a potential clash in ethics for Dr. John DiMuro, Nevada's Chief Medical Officer. The chief medical officer has to consult on delivering capital punishment, according to Nevada law. The Reno Gazette-Journal explained that DiMuro is "an anesthesiologist committed to preserving life."

According to the board that certifies the doctor, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), DiMuro's role assisting the state in selecting drugs used in the injection protocol does not pose an ethical dilemma since he will not be administering the lethal combination that kills Dozier.

At the same time, however, Johan Bester interprets the fact that DiMuro is acting as a state consultant involved in Dozier's pending execution means that the doctor is participating in creating the drug cocktail that will ultimately kill the inmate. Bester is the medical director of bioethics, University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine. Bester said the doctor's involvement could present an ethical conflict. Bester described DiMuro's situation as "difficult," the Gazette-Journal reported. On one hand, he's a physician with an ethical obligation not to be involved, Bester relayed. On the other hand, the doctor is faced with a law stating that he has to offer his advice.

DiMuro commented on his role as a consultant for the execution in an email to the Gazette-Journal. He wrote, "I can confirm that I am consulting with the NDOC as required by Nevada statute." He also noted that the process is not complete and that the court is most apt to review the final decision.

Jessica Bardoulas, the AOA spokeswoman, stated that DiMuro's certification is not jeopardized by fulfilling his responsibilities as the state's chief medical officer. As well, the ethical policy for the Nevada Medical Association states that physicians are not supposed to "actively participate," the Gazette-Journal reported.

Earlier this year, Dozier voluntarily ended all appeals and Judge Togliatti signed his death warrant. The condemned inmate affirmed that his stance has not wavered, according to News3LV. He told the judge, "I will gladly write a letter every single week, just letting you know nothing has changed between now and then," he said. "I'll write it every Sunday."

(source: blastingnews.com)

USA:

Death Row White Supremacist Fires Jewish, Indian Attorneys for Failure to Communicate

Dylann Roof, who was convicted in federal court for the 2015 of killing 9 people, all African-Americans, during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, wants to fire his Jewish and Native American appellate attorneys, AP reported.

Roof, 23, who is on federal death row, on Monday sent a hand-written note to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, saying that "because of my political views, which are arguably religious, it will be impossible for me to trust 2 attorneys that are my political and biological enemies."

He argued that because of their racial identities, "it is therefore quite literally impossible that they and I could have the same interests relating to my case."

Roof told the court he believes "ethnicity was a constant source of conflict even with my constant efforts to look past it" with renowned death penalty lawyer David Isaac Bruck, who is Jewish and served as Roof's primary attorney during his federal trial.

Dylann Roof has made legal history, being the 1st US citizen to face both a state and federal death penalty at the same time. In September 2015, it was announced Roof would face capital punishment in his state prosecution, and in May 2016, the US Department of Justice announced Roof would face capital punishment in his federal prosecution as well.

This could turn out to be a difficult to resolve conflict between states and federal rights, seeing as only one of them gets to kill Roof, for obvious biological reasons.

It is also conceivable that Roof will not make it to either of his executions: on August 4, 2016, he was beaten by an African-American inmate at the Charleston County Detention Center. The inmate, 25-year-old Dwayne Marion Stafford, was mysteriously able to exit his cell, get through a steel cell door with a narrow vertical window, and go down the stairs into the jail's protective custody unit to reach Roof. When he reached Roof, the latter was alone after 2 detention officers assigned to be with him had mysteriously left the area.

(source: jewishpress.com)

PAKISTAN:

In Pakistan, a Text Message Can Lead to a Death Sentence----Officials Lean on Abusive Blasphemy Law to Punish Free Speech

In Pakistan, a poem sent over WhatsApp can prove deadly.

On September 14, a court in Gujrat district, Punjab province sentenced to death Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, for sending a poem to a friend that was deemed insulting to Islam. James denies ever having sent the message.

James isn't the only person in Pakistan condemned to death over a post on social media.

In June, Taimoor Raza, 30, was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in Bahawalpur district for allegedly making blasphemous comments during a Facebook chat with someone who eventually turned out be a counterterrorism agent on the prowl. In April 2014, a Christian couple were sentenced to death for sending a blasphemous text message to a local cleric. The couple claimed that they were illiterate and could not have sent a blasphemous text in English. Junaid Hafeez, a university professor, has been imprisoned for nearly four years facing a possible death sentence for accusations of sharing blasphemous material online. Hafeez's lawyer was murdered in May 2014.

The abusive nature of Pakistan's blasphemy laws is not new. However, the increasing use of blasphemy provisions to jail and prosecute people for comments made on social media is a dangerous escalation. Many officials are using religious rhetoric and whipping up tensions over the issue of blasphemy. In March, the then-interior minister described blasphemers as "enemies of humanity" and expressed the intention of taking the matter of blasphemers to a "logical conclusion." Although no one has yet been executed for the crime, Pakistan's penal code makes the death penalty mandatory in blasphemy convictions. At least 19 people remain on death row.

Even accusations of blasphemy can be deadly. Since 1990, at least 60 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered.

Religious minorities are significantly overrepresented among those facing blasphemy charges, and are often victimized due to personal disputes. A death sentence for alleged blasphemy online in a country with low literacy rates and lack of familiarity with modern technology is an invitation for a witch-hunt. Pakistan needs to amend and ultimately repeal its blasphemy laws; not extend their scope to digital speech.

(source: Human Rights Watch)

******************

Death penalty for corrupt people to eliminate corruption: PPP leader

Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Khwaja Mohammad Khan Hoti has said the government should announce death penalty for corrupt people with the aim of eliminating corruption.

Talking to reporters here on Monday, he said that the economy of Pakistan was in a poor shape and the national debt was increasing with each passing day. "The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission set up with the aim to end accountability has failed," he maintained.

Referring to the ouster of Nawaz Sharif from the office of the prime minister, he said: "It is only because of the Supreme Court that action was taken against a big fish but there are many others who looted the public exchequer but no action has been taken against them.

"The country will become bankrupt if the situation remains the same." Khwaja Hoti, who had resigned from the federal cabinet to protest corruption in the government in the past, suggested amendments to the Constitution like that of China, which hanged the corrupt even if they held high positions.

He felt that across-the-board accountability of corrupt people in every institution would purge the society of corruption and develop the country. The PPP leader observed that the rich were getting richer and the poor poorer while the middle class was vanishing.

He called for bringing back around 200 billion dollars held by Pakistani nationals in foreign banks to boost the country's economy. He also demanded investigation into all the mega projects initiated by the Nawaz Sharif-led government, including the LNG and Nandipur projects.

The PPP leader said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government couldnít reduce electricity loadshedding during its 4 1/2 years rule. He said the nation and rulers should not worry about the threats, including those given by US President Donald Trump and said the conspirators in the country could create trouble at home.

"Instead of recognising Pakistan's sacrifices against terrorism, the US president hurled threats at us. "The superpower should find out a political solution of the Afghan issue as it cannot be resolved by the use of force," he stressed.

(source: thenews.com.pk)

MALAYSIA:

Mother of 3 nabbed for drug trafficking less than a year after release from rehab centre

It must be true what they say, that old habits die hard. But for one 38-year-old woman, it seems these old habits have taken a turn for the worse.

On Thursday, just 8 months after being released from a drug rehabilitation centre in Batu Gajah, the mother of 3 was arrested by police again, this time on suspicion of trafficking.

State Narcotics Department chief Assistant Commissioner V.R. Ravi Chandran said the woman was picked up at 12.10am at a shop lot in Kampar Trading Centre, where she rented a room on the 3rd floor.

"During the raid, police seized 3.07kg of syabu and 3l of ethanol worth RM214,770. She also tested positive for methamphetamine abuse and was remanded for 7 days beginning Thursday," he told reporters at the state police headquarters today.

Ravi Chandran said the woman had a criminal record with 4 previous drug-related offences, adding that the last one led to her being sent to the rehabilitation centre after being picked up in Shah Alam on July 19 last year under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985. She had been released from the centre on Jan 11.

"(We believe) the woman is active in drug trafficking in Selangor and we are in the midst of an investigation to find out where she got her supply," said Ravi Chandran.

In a separate case, he said, police detained 4 men aged between 17 and 23, including 2 brothers, in possession of drugs at a house in Pokok Assam, Taiping, on Wednesday.

"During the 5.30pm raid, police seized 218.33g of heroin worth RM5,458 and 2 motorcycles. Further checks revealed that 2 of them had criminal records involving drugs.

"They were remanded for 7 days until Wednesday to facilitate investigations," he said, adding that both cases were being investigated under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drug Act 1952 which carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

Ravi Chandran said, until August this year, a total of 5,573 people were arrested in the state for various drug offences, a 20 % increase compared to the corresponding period last year.

"During the same period, police seized a total of 79.18kg of syabu, 934.54g of ketamine, ecstasy (2,480 pills), yaba (180,001 pills) and Eramin-5 (18,098 pills), 76.24kg of ganja and 32.17kg of heroin," he said, adding that the total drug seizure amounted to RM10.5 million.

(source: nst.com.my)

SAUDI ARABIA:

Urgent Action

JUVENILE OFFENDER AT RISK OF IMMINENT EXECUTION

The family of Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, a Saudi Arabian Shi'a young man sentenced to death for offences that occurred when he was 16 years old, learned that their son's sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on 11 September. He has exhausted all his appeals and is at risk of imminent execution.

Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

* Urging King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to halt the execution of Abdulkareem al-Hawaj and commute his and all other existing death sentences;

* Calling on them to order an independent investigation into his allegation of torture and other ill-treatment;

* Reminding them that Saudi Arabia is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons below the age of 18.

Friendly reminder: If you send an email, please create your own instead of forwarding this one!

Contact these 2 officials by 30 October, 2017M

King and Prime Minister

Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud

The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques

Office of His Majesty the King

Royal Court, Riyadh

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax: (via Ministry of Interior)

+966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)

Twitter: @KingSalman

Salutation: Your Majesty

Ambassador Prince

Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

601 New Hampshire Ave. NW

Washington DC 20037

Phone: 1 202 537 3100

Fax: 1 202 295 3625

Email: info@saudiembassy.net

Contact Form: https://www.saudiembassy.net/contact

Twitter: @SaudiEmbassyUSA

Salutation: Your Royal Highness

(source: Amnesty International USA)

*********************

Another Saudi young Shia faces execution after unfair trial

Execution of Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, only 16 at time of alleged crime, would be in clear contravention of international law.

83 already executed this year, with political dissidents and Shia minority targeted

A young Saudi Arabian Shia man who says he was tortured to "confess" alleged crimes committed when he was aged 16 faces imminent execution, said Amnesty International today.

The family of Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, now 21, were yesterday informed that the country's Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence for his alleged role in anti-government protests.

Mr Al-Hawaj was sentenced to death in July last year for a range of offences related to his alleged involvement in anti-government protests in the Shia-majority Eastern Province in 2012, when he was aged 16. His case is just one of several death penalty cases involving Shia Muslim men from the Eastern Province.

Al-Hawaj has now exhausted all his appeals and faces execution as soon as the Saudi Arabian king - Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud - ratifies his sentence, which could happen at any time. Due to secrecy surrounding the judicial process in Saudi Arabia, it is unclear when the king will ratify the sentence, while families are usually not informed about the ratification process or the scheduled execution of their relatives.

Al-Hawaj's trial was grossly unfair. He had no access to a lawyer during his pre-trial detention and interrogations, and said he was held in solitary confinement for the first 5 months following his arrest at a security checkpoint in 2012. He also says he was beaten and threatened with the death of his family during interrogations by General Directorate of Investigations officials. Eventually he wrote and signed a "confession" that appears to be the sole basis for his conviction. Al-Hawaj denies participating in any of the acts attributed to him.

At least 85 executions this year, 44 in past 2 months

Amnesty International has recorded a worrying increase in death sentences against political dissidents in Saudi Arabia since 2013, including among the Shia Muslim minority. Amnesty has documented the cases of at least 33 members of Saudi Arabia's Shia community who are currently facing the death penalty. All were accused of activities deemed a risk to national security. 3 others who remain on death row awaiting execution, Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and Dawood al-Marhoon, were also arrested for alleged offences committed when they were under 18 and have said that they were tortured to make them "confess".

(source: (AhlulBayt News Agency

EGYPT:

Ibrahim Halawa freed: Irish student facing death penalty in Egypt acquitted after 4 years----He was detained on a slew of charges, including murder, arson and illegal possession of weapons

An Irish citizen held for 4 years in Egypt and threatened with the death penalty has been acquitted of all charges.

Ibrahim Halawa, from Dublin, was 17 when he was arrested during a protest in Cairo in 2013.

He was detained by the Egyptian army during a demonstration staged by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood after their elected leader, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted from power in a military coup.

Mr Halawa is the son of a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that swept to power in elections after the 2011 uprising, but was later outlawed as a terrorist organisation.

He was accused along with 500 others, including his 3 sisters, of murders, bombing, possession of firearms and explosives, arson, violence against police and desecration of the Al Fatah mosque in Cairo's central Ramses Square.

Mr Halawa's sisters were released three months after their arrest and allowed to return home to Dublin, but he remained in the Wadi Natrun jail, where he says he was kept in solitary confinement, often without light or a toilet.

His family said he was beaten and refused treatment for a gunshot wound he sustained shortly before his arrest.

Mr Halawa was cleared of all charges on Monday - 1 of 52 who were acquitted.

A further 43 defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment - 25 years under Egyptian law - while 399 defendants were sentenced to between 5 and 15 years.

Mr Halawa, now aged 21, was on a family holiday at the time in his parents' homeland.

He is unlikely to be released immediately due to delays in the Egyptian judicial and prison system.

Maya Foa, director of human rights group Reprieve, told The Independent: "Ibrahim has been repeatedly tortured throughout his detention; he's reported being beaten with metal chains, stamped in the back, threatened with execution, and denied medical treatment.

"Today's ruling should be welcomed, but let's be clear - this trial made a mockery of justice. Protesters should never have been rounded up and threatened with the death penalty, and the trial should not have dragged on for as long as it did. The proceedings in this case and other mass trials were always more about crushing dissent than seeing justice done." Amnesty International, which called the mass trial "grossly unfair", said all 442 other defendants in the case should be retried.

The group said there was "no evidence" that Mr Halawa was involved in the violence, adding that he was "detained solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly".

"He is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been detained in the first place," said Najia Bounaim, North Africa research director at Amnesty.

"This trial has been a cruel farce from start to finish. From relying on questionable testimonies to dismissing key evidence and depriving the defendants of the proper means of defending themselves, these proceedings expose the deep flaws in Egypt's notorious criminal justice system."

Amnesty said there was evidence to support the case against just 2 of the defendants, despite hundreds standing trial.

Lawyers told the charity the trial defendants were held behind a glass screen preventing them from hearing the proceedings or being able to participate.

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomed the news of Mr Halawa's acquittal. The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, said: "Ibrahim Halawa's name has been cleared and his innocence is confirmed. I look forward to him being released from custody without delay."

Nosayba Halawa said her brother would be "very happy and delighted" with the outcome.

"We couldn't believe [the news] after all the suffering. It is coming to an end," she said.

(source: independent.co.uk)

******************

Egypt: Irish national acquitted, hundreds sentenced following grossly unfair mass trial

The acquittal of Irish national Ibrahim Halawa by a Cairo criminal court today, after a grossly unfair mass trial involving 494 defendants, brings his four year ordeal to an end said Amnesty International, emphasizing the need for 442 other defendants in the case, who were sentenced to between 5 years and life imprisonment, to be re-tried in line with international due process standards or released.

Ibrahim Halawa was arrested aged 17 along with more than 330 others during protests which erupted into violence on 16 and 17 August 2013 around al-Fath Mosque in Cairo when at least 97 protesters were killed. There is no evidence that Ibrahim Halawa was involved in the violence and Amnesty International believes he was detained solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

"Today's acquittal of Ibrahim Halawa after 4 years in unlawful detention comes as a welcome relief but is long overdue. He is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been detained in the first place," said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International.

"Ibrahim Halawa's acquittal puts an end to the gross injustice in his case. However, it is utterly disgraceful that at the same time the Egyptian authorities have handed out heavy sentences to 442 others after sham proceedings in a mass trial that flouted the most basic standards of a fair trial, while security forces who used excessive and lethal force during protests that day have escaped unpunished."

Amnesty International is calling for any other defendants in the case who were detained and sentenced for peacefully exercising their legitimate rights to be immediately released.

The organization analysed the casefile and spoke to at least 5 lawyers working on the case. It found that the court had relied entirely on unsound reports by security forces and investigations conducted by the National Security Agency as a basis for the convictions.

According to an audio-visual evidence report sent by the Ministry of Interior to the court, out of the 330 defendants who have been detained in the case for more than 4 years, only 2 of the defendants appear to have evidence against them.

"This trial has been a cruel farce from start to finish. From relying on questionable testimonies to dismissing key evidence and depriving the defendants of the proper means of defending themselves, these proceedings expose the deep flaws in Egypt's notorious criminal justice system," said Najia Bounaim.

"All those convicted for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be released immediately. Those against whom there is sufficient admissible evidence should either be retried in fair proceedings that meet international fair trials standards and without the possibility of the death penalty or released."

The trial took place in a courtroom inside Wadi al-Natroun prison around 110Km North of Cairo. Lawyers told Amnesty International that during the trial defendants were held behind a glass screen prohibiting them from hearing the proceedings or being able to participate in the trial. Trying defendants inside a prison also undermines their presumption of innocence.

Background

The court today sentenced 43 defendants to life imprisonment (25 years under Egyptian law), 399 defendants were sentenced to between five and 15 years and 52 were acquitted including Ibrahim Halawa. The case involved 494 defendants among whom 333 were in detention. Those sentenced in absentia can appeal the verdict and be retried before the same court while those sentenced in their presence can appeal the decision before the court of Cassation.

(source: Amnesty International)

***************

Were you afraid of sentencing him to death?

Were you afraid of sentencing him to death? Then why did the Court of Cassation sentence Morsi to lifetime in jail, not death? Wasn't the crime 'conspiring' and leaking top secret military information? Is it because of political alignments or international demands? Are there reasons for not sentencing him to death, so the Brotherhood doesn't revolt? Has the Brotherhood passed the death penalty time frame and are awaiting the presidential pardon? Does this mean Egypt has stopped capital punishment?!

I am not criticizing the court here in any way, but I am seeking an explanation for the ruling.. Why lifetime imprisonment, not death?.. First, cases of espionage in times of war are different than when it occurs in times of peace.. In other words, conspiring with a foreign state we have waged war on ends with the death penalty, according to the law. But In the case of Qatar, with which we are not at war, this ends with prison.. So why was it lifetime imprisonment for Morsi?.. The answer is because the spy was the 'President' and not just any citizen!

The question is: Why did the court annul the 15 years imprisonment sentence, and sentence him to lifetime imprisonment, although he appealed against the first ruling, shouldn't he get a tougher sentence?.. this is because the president is not an ordinary citizen. The court didn't find a proper punishment for the former president, because there is no clause in the law outlining the punishment for if the president is implicated of espionage. The legislator originally couldn't imagine that a president may work as a spy, and would leak confidential information about military formations and bases to any "foreign party"!

This is unprecedented in history, that the president is the spy and the leader of the gang. He harmed the national security of his country, and the most dangerous part is that he leaked documents about secret military communication codes and documents. This delicate information included base location and formation positions of armed forces nationwide; As well as detailed information on the armament, equipment and vehicles forces across the country!

Crucial confidential information like the organizational chart of The Ministry of Military Production and military factory production was leaked along with its specialties, means of developing the ministry and its affiliated factories. In addition to these shared charts was a report on the military mobile network and ways of securing it; a report on the budget of the General Intelligence Service; and a memo detailing assessment of the security situation and proposals to restore it and achieve comprehensive development in Sinai. What a dark day!

Of course, it was necessary to change all these plans and formations following the disclosure of the documents. This was not an easy job, but a heroic effort to rebuild the army systems again. For all of this chaos, Morsi knows deep down that he deserves death. He and his Guidance Bureau knew he was guilty, and would have received a harsh verdict. He alone knows that he has been a 'thorough' spy since the 'Black Carbon' incident!

This means that Egypt was not afraid to sentence Morsi to death, nor his Guidance Bureau, but rather committed itself to following state of law; and oddly enough the law did not consider that the defendant was the President, so Morsi was not sentenced to death.

(source: Mohamed Ameen, Egypt Independent)

IRAN:

More Public Executions - Prisoner Hanged While Crowd Watched

A prisoner by the name of Samir Deivband was hanged in public in the city of Ilam in front of a crowd of people.

According to a report by the state-run media IRIB, the prisoner was sentenced to death on murder charges and was hanged in public on the morning of Sunday September 17. The IRIB report only identified the prisoner by the initials "S.D.", but local sources confirmed the prisoner's name to Iran Human Rights as Samir Deivband.

The research of Iran Human Rights shows 33 people were hanged in public in Iran in 2016; and an audience of hundreds of people, including children, were present for most of these hangings. Human rights activists and informed membes of civil society have always severely criticized this issue.

********************

13 Prisoners in Imminent Danger of Execution

13 prisoners are scheduled to be executed at Rajai Shahr Prison on Wednesday September 20.

On Saturday September 16, 13 prisoners in Karaj's Rajai Shahr Prison who are on death row on murder charges were transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for their executions.

According to close sources, the 13 prisoners are scheduled to be executed on Wednesday September 20. Iran Human Rights has obtained the names of 4 of these prisoners: Jafar Zamani, Jamshid Javanbakhsh, Reza Heydari, and Mojtaba Ghiasvand.

"Mojtaba Ghiasvand was sentenced to death on murder charges, but he had repeatedly insisted on his innocence," an informed source tells Iran Human Rights.

(source for both: Iran Human Rights)

SEPTEMBER 18, 2017:

FLORIDA:

Now and then: Lake's 1st legal hanging

Earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott set the date for the 1st execution in 18 months. Convicted killer Mark James Asay's execution was rescheduled for Aug. 27. He is 1 of 2 death row inmates whose executions were put on hold after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty sentencing system as unconstitutional in January 2016.

Asay was convicted of 2 murders in 1988 in downtown Jacksonville. He was put to death under a new, untested lethal injection protocol.

Ted Cassady, a former Lake County Tax Assessor, told the Lake County Historical Society in 1985 the story of how he almost witnessed Lake's 1st legal hanging.

The quick thinking by an aunt waylaid the plans of then 6-year-old Ted Cassady to view Lake County's 1st legal hanging. Jake Williams was sentenced "to be hanged by the neck until dead" at 11:30 a.m. on April 4, 1913, within the enclosure of the Lake County Jail. He had been convicted for the premeditated murder of G.C. Lowe, a Mascotte turpentine operator, only 4 months earlier.

"I slipped off from school to go to the hanging and was coming by my aunt's place," Cassady told the audience.

His aunt, Cora Long, was in the yard and asked young Cassady where he was headed.

"Well, I'm going to the hanging," the youngster replied.

"You are? Do your folks know you're going?" Aunt Cora asked.

And Cassady answered, "No, not yet."

She shrewdly replied, "Well, come on in. I've got some fresh donuts I'll give you."

Receiving goodies from Aunt Cora was nothing new for Cassady.

"Generally, when I was coming in town, she was in the yard," he said. "Or if she saw me she would call me in to give me some crackers or a cookie or a piece of cake or something, so I looked forward to that when I was coming to town."

Cassady thought nothing of it as he walked into the house - until his aunt shut and locked the door. So Cassady missed the hanging.

About 100 people, including 20 official witnesses, watched as Lake County Sheriff Thad C. Smyth, who stood almost 7 feet tall, tripped the lever that opened the trap door of the gallows, according to retired Leesburg High School teacher Bill Hayes.

An 8-foot-high wooden fence around the base of the gallows kept onlookers from seeing as Williams plunged to his death.

Hayes has a copy of the death warrant signed by Gov. Park Trammell on March 21, 1913. It had several errors, according to Hayes. It identified G.G. Lowe as C.G. Lowe, G.C. Lowe and also C.C. Lowe.

According to Hayes, Williams shot Lowe twice in the head at a party that got out of hand. The party was at the home of Jolly Lane, another turpentine worker. Lane rented his home from Lowe. When Lowe arrived to restore order, he was shot.

The hanging took place at the Lake County Jail, then located at the site of the Lake Region citrus packing plant. The jail was behind Lake County's 2nd courthouse, called the old Pioneer Building.

The gallows were probably built by inmates of the jail, according to Hayes.

"It took about 2 days to build and a lot of the work was done by inmates," said Hayes. "That was true virtually nationwide."

The next legal hanging in Lake County took place 10 years later.

John Lawrence Revels died on Nov. 23, 1923 for a double murder committed almost a year earlier, on Dec. 9.

"He killed his wife and a brother," Hayes said of Revels. "He caught them in bed together."

After the 2nd legal hanging in 1923, convicted murderers in Florida died by electrocution at Raiford Prison.

Ted Cassady did witness the 2nd hanging, along with about 150-200 others, according to Cassady.

His father, Balton A. Cassady, was Lake County's sheriff at that time. "I saw that," Cassady said. "Of course they had a blind around him, but there was a big crowd there. And I imagine if they had hangings today there'd be a big crowd there now." Cassady remembered the scaffold was built behind the jail, where he and a friend, Bill Freeman, would go down every day and hang an old stump that weighed about 150 pounds. "After this hanging they tore it all down and that was the last one," Cassady said.

(source: dailycommercial.com)

MISSISSIPI----film review

Film offers powerful meditation on the death penalty

"Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2" is one of the most sobering and powerful documentaries about a political issue I've seen in years.

It's no Michael Moore-style propaganda film. Nor are the sing-song title and the fact that it was produced by a French company reliable clues to the subject matter.

The film follows one woman's journey to examine her role as a juror in a Mississippi death penalty case.

There's no inmate whose life we can advocate for. He was executed years ago. And there's no hint that maybe the system got the wrong man, something the wonders of DNA forensics might overturn. Bobby Glen Wilcher, at the age of 19, most certainly slashed 2 women to death along a wooded road where he lured them. He barely knew the women and never expressed a shred of regret for their murders. Not in the 24 years that he was on Mississippi's death row before being executed in 2006.

Lindy Lou Wells Isonhood is a conservative grandmother who, along with 11 other jurors, helped make the unanimous decision in the capital murder case. The film follows along as she tracks down the other jurors 22 years later to find out if they are as disturbed by what had happened as she has been.

Or as she says in the film, "I couldn't let it go."

"I can't say that I'm totally against the death penalty," she said as the film toured Missouri, where it premiered and is now touring, with plans eventually to show overseas.

In the documentary, you watch her driving backcounty roads where poverty is rife, and you glimpse the sprawling, manicured lawns of better-heeled jurors. All of their views are represented as told to Isonhood.

She's perturbed by the male juror who can't seem to recall much about the trial at all, as if he was asleep and unaware of the gravity of his vote condemning a man to death by lethal injection. One juror did a "180 flip" from her decision after she survived cancer and began to value every moment of her own life, and that of others. And she's relieved to find the foreman who shares her deep thoughts and self-doubts.

This is how she sums up her philosophy on capital punishment: "I'm not here to force anybody to change their mind. You have to vote your own moral conscience. But just don't go in there blind, dumb and happy."

That's how she would describe where she was when she joined the jury at the age of 42. "Inadequate," she says, to describe her fitness to make such a weighty decision.

At the time, she thought that there was no chance that Wilcher could have gotten life without parole. She thought there was a chance that he could be set free and she didn't want that on her conscience either.

10 years after the trial Isonhood sought the convicted murderer out, meeting him face to face four times. They became friends. She learned about his family and met them, too.

She learned the dire stories of Wilcher's youth, about his abusive, alcoholic father and his time as a teenager at a juvenile detention center, where he was raped. She learned about his troubled marriage. Besides his attorney, Isonhood was his only visitor. His mother was in prison for selling prescription drugs when her son was executed.

Isonhood felt empathy, but also revulsion for his actions. The women were stabbed more than 20 times each.

Most people know they will never personally face the question of sentencing another man or woman to death. Even if they live in one of the 31 states with the death penalty, capital punishment is under siege - a bit like abortion nowadays. States are waging protracted legal battles to keep secret the compounding pharmacies that mix the lethal concoctions used in executions. If the suppliers become known, they risk massive public backlash and boycotts. Executives and the pharmacists involved become pariahs, like abortion doctors.

But activists hounding capital punishment into oblivion isn't the same as society coming to terms with the moral dimension of enshrining the death penalty in law.

And that's the power of "Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2." Isonhood calmly asks people to think about the death penalty deeply, to examine how they might feel if faced with condemning another human being to death. Their meditations on life, death and justice are raw and direct - and necessary for all of us to hear.

(source: Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star)

OHIO:

Van Wert murder trial starts Monday

A murder case with capital punishment implications is scheduled to begin Monday in Van Wert Common Pleas Court.

Jury selection will get underway Monday morning in the trial of Christopher Peters, 27, of Delphos, who is facing the death penalty after being charged with aggravated murder in the death of an infant.

Peters has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and endangering children in the death of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger. The child was found dead inside an apartment Nov. 15 at 24249 Lincoln Highway.

The child's mother, 24-year-old Valerie Dean, faces involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment charges in connection with the infant's death.

Peters' attorneys, including William Kluge, of Lima, have filed several motions with the court in recent months concerning the questionnaire for potential jurors, which was altered after the defense argued jurors should have more space to express their views on capital punishment. The new questionnaire will provide potential jurors with more response lines on the death penalty question, Judge Martin Burchfield said in June.

2 weeks have been set aside for Peters' trial.

(source: limaohio.com)

******************

Trial date set for Ohio man charged with killing 2 women

A 2018 trial date has been set for an Ohio man charged with abducting and killing 2 women.

Shawn Grate has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder and kidnapping in the deaths of 29-year-old Elizabeth Griffith and 43-year-old Stacey Stanley. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Police arrested Grate in September 2016 after finding the women's bodies in an Ashland home where another woman said she was held captive.

Investigators say Grate admitted killing at least 2 other women elsewhere.

The Ashland Times-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2feIt5M ) a judge has set an April 9, 2018, trial date for Grate.

? Grate's attorneys aren't permitted to comment because of a judge's gag order.

(source: WHIO news)

VIETNAM:

Vietnam suspends prison staff in wake of death row breakout----The 2 inmates spent months digging their way out with the guards apparently oblivious.

The Ministry of Public Security has suspended 13 guards and supervisors at a prison in Hanoi for letting 2 inmates who were cuffed break out a week ago.

They have been held accountable for the escape of death row inmates Le Van Tho, 37, and Nguyen Van Tinh, 28, who shared a cell equipped with surveillance cameras at T16 prison in Thanh Oai District on the capital's outskirts. Both were recaptured in nearby provinces over the weekend after around 400 police officers were deployed.

Tinh was sentenced to death in April for heroin trafficking. Tho got the death penalty in May for drug trafficking, murder and fraud.

An investigation has found that Tho did most of the work by hiding a small piece of iron in his anus and using it to dig a hole in the wall of their cell over the space of several months. The 2 disguised the hole using rice mixed with toothpaste, they said.

Tho is also a professional locksmith and was able to uncuff himself before helping Tinh. They climbed out of the prison using a rope.

Investigators from the country's top prosecution agency have already opened a criminal investigation, accusing guards and supervisors at the prison of "neglecting responsibility resulting in the escape of detainees", which carries up to 10 years in jail.

In October 2001, 13 officers and guards at a prison in Hanoi also received punishments ranging from official warnings to demotions after 2 death row inmates escaped. One was recaptured after a week and the other after 17 days.

(source: vnexpress.net)

INDONESIA:

Escaped Prisoners Face Death Sentences

Police stated that the 4 prisoners who escaped the West Jakarta Metro Police custody would be subjected to layered articles and face the death penalty.

Head of Public Relations of Jakarta Metro Police, Senior Commissioner Argo Yuwono, on Sunday (9/17/2017) urged the remaining 4 prisoners to surrender themselves. He is also convinced that they would be immediately apprehended.

"On this occasion I urged the prisoners to turn themselves in as soon as possible to West Jakarta Metro Police or to the nearest police station," said Yuwono.

As reported, 8 prisoners escaped from West Jakarta Police custody by sawing off the iron railings in Room 14 of West Jakarta Police Station, Saturday (9/16).

Currently, police have captured 4 out of the 8 prisoners, Yocke Arya Winta and Bagas Fathiong Ramadhan bin Joko Susilo were injured, while Yudi Rohmansyah bin Rohman and Franco Graizani Julizar bin Leo Francis were shot dead for trying to fight of the police.

West Jakarta Metro Police assisted by Jakarta Metro Police have formed 7 teams to capture Abbi Isa bin Muhamd Nur, Thio Erwin Gunawan, Kurniawan bin M Idrus, and Ramlan bin Satin who are still at large.

(source: netralnews.com)

MALAYSIA:

Calls For Death Penalty For Those Who Started Tahfiz School Fire, Victim's Father Says It Is Inappropriate

The aftermath of the tragic fire accident that occurred at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school led to plentiful of Malaysians debating over especially over just punishment following the news of 7 youths arrested for suspected arson.

Amidst the sea of criticism and anguish, Malaysian Digest queried a few members of the public in light of the arrest and found that majority are calling for the suspects to be sent to the death row whilst criticising the parents of the suspects.

"An eye for an eye - they deserved the death penalty for taking 23 lives away from the loved ones," one frustrated citizen opined and questioned where are the parents in this matter.

"They should be hanged to death for their crime. Because of petty teasing, they succumb to murder. How were these animals raised?," another distraught citizen relayed.

"As cruel as it is, they are deserving of the death penalty - but their sentence is no more vicious than what they have done. Their punishment will remind people that taking lives is never permissible," one citizen lamented.

While Malaysians are grief-stricken, it is safe to say that our pain pales in comparison with the family of the victims, as Noorazlina Bakry emphasised that she will not forgive those who are responsible for the demise of her 11-year-old son.

"I do not want to meet with them, I do not want to look at their face. I will never forgive them for their crime," the 36-year-old mother tearfully communicated to Berita Harian.

"I hope justice will be served. Let them serve a life prison sentence. What kind of person would have the heart to commit such transgression ... towards those who are enrolled in a religious school no less."

Meanwhile Harian Metro reported that a 46-year-old father of one of the perished victims underlined that the death penalty is an inappropriate punishment for the suspects.

"I believe there is no need to criticise the parents (of the suspects), as no one would want their children to commit this act," said Norazizan Abd Razak and emphasised that he does not blame the parents, even after 6 of the 7 were tested positive for drugs.

"If it is true that they were under the influence of drugs, the death sentence would not be able to correct the situation.

"Maybe a life-sentence in jail, and they can be taught lessons from the al-Quran (which will help them) turn over a new leaf. This is just my personal opinion, and I'm not sure how other families would react," he said.

His beloved son, Taufik Hidayat Norazizan, was one of 23 victims who perished in the tragic blaze that occurred last Thursday (14 September).

"I last saw him on Tuesday last week, at Taman Tasik Dato' Keramat, which is right behind the tahfiz school. We were both there coincidently, since the tahfiz students are only allowed to go there on Wednesdays.

"I live near the school, so when I saw him, I bought some drinks and had a conversation with him. He seemed very normal and nothing was odd in his behaviour," the father of 5 recalled of his late 16-year-old son.

Sharing that Taufik was the third child and an immensely obedient son, Norazizan conveyed that he accepts the loss of his son and stated that it was the will of God.

While he regards this hard time as a challenge from God, he additionally expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the prayers and expression of condolences that the family has been showered with.

Our deepest condolence goes out to the family of those who perished, and we take this opportunity to remind Malaysians to delay judgments while the investigation is still on going.

(source: Malaysian Digest)

SEPTEMBER 17, 2017:

SOUTH CAROLINA:

Years awaiting execution: 4 men with ties to T&D Region on death row

The date was July 14, 2004.

A Mercury Sable station wagon was stolen from a Lawrenceville, Virginia, auto auction business.

The next night, on July 15, Mikal Deen Mahdi was caught on camera robbing an Exxon gas station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he fatally shot the store clerk, 29-year-old Christopher Jason Boggs.

Then on the morning of July 18, Mahdi carjacked a Ford Expedition from a driver in Columbia.

He then drove to Calhoun County, where he killed Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Capt. James Myers that night. Mahdi set Myers' body on fire inside a shed where the fugitive had been hiding.

Mahdi fled in Myers' white police-issued Dodge Ram.

An intensive law enforcement manhunt led to Mahdi's capture in Satellite Beach, Florida, on July 21.

Mahdi pleaded guilty to the murder of Myers in December 2006 trial. After his plea, his grandmother, Nancy Thomas Burwell, said, "His mother left him when he was only 3 years old. I tried to help him as much as I could. If he'd had someone to love and guide him as I tried to do, things might have turned out differently. It's just hard to believe he did all those things.

"I'm not disputing it. It's just hard to believe," she said.

Mahdi, now 34, is on death row for killing Myers and Boggs. He pleaded guilty to Boggs' murder in 2011.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Mahdi earlier this year that his lawyer didn't do enough to present evidence of his troubled childhood.

"A motion to alter or amend is presently pending in Circuit Court in Calhoun County," S.C. Attorney General's Office spokesman Robert Kittle said. "He is also currently in federal habeas in the District Court. The federal action is not stayed and filings are continuing."

Mahdi has been a challenging inmate, according to SCDOC records. He has made 2 escape attempts, the most recent in October 2014. He has also been cited for a number of disciplinary infractions including assault and battery of a jail employee, possession of a weapon and possession of escape tools.

Mahdi is 1 of 4 men with ties to The T&D Region who are currently on death row.

2 of the incidents occurred in Orangeburg County and 1 in Calhoun County. A 3rd occurred in Dorchester County but involved a man from Branchville.

Bamberg County currently has no one on death row, according to the S.C. Department of Corrections.

Status of executions

Executions and new death sentences have been declining in recent years in South Carolina and the U.S. 20 inmates in f5 states were executed in 2016, the lowest number since 1991, when 14 people were put to death.

The decline has been partially due to the uncertainty of the process, but also because of the high costs associated with it.

South Carolina has not executed anyone since May 6, 2011, when Jeffrey Brian Motts was put to death by lethal injection.

Motts was sentenced to death for killing his cellmate at a state prison in Greenville County in 2005. He was already serving a life sentence for killing 2 elderly people during a Spartanburg County robbery in 1995.

The state's supply of lethal injection drugs expired shortly after Motts' execution.

The state has been unable to obtain alternative drugs because pharmaceutical companies that compounded them in the past have received a great deal of outside pressure to end the practice.

Since then, the state has had no way of executing any of the inmates on death row unless they choose to die by electrocution. As a result, execution dates are not scheduled for any of the current death row inmates in South Carolina.

Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, who recently served on a five-member subcommittee of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee to discuss the issue, says the matter has remained unresolved.

"We will wait for more direction from the department (DOC)," said Hutto, noting the committee will reconvene in the coming legislative session to discuss the issue. "It is not clear there is a magic law out there that will make everything work."

Hutto said possible solutions could include going back to electrocution as the only approved method, doing away with the death penalty totally and going to life-without-parole sentences, or having the state contract with a private company to compound lethal drugs.

"But that (the state compounding its own drugs) would be cost prohibitive and run into the same problems major pharmaceutical companies have in that they don't want the liability ... in the event the drugs malfunction and don't work," the senator said.

Currently, there are 36 individuals on death row in South Carolina, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Other death row inmates from the region, who are housed at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, are listed in chronological order according to the date the crimes took place, along with a brief synopsis of each case.

Bayan Aleksey

Bayan Aleksey of Philadelphia was found guilty in August 1998 of shooting Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Frankie Lingard.

On Dec. 31, 1997, Lingard was patrolling Interstate 95 near Santee with narcotics officer Deputy Lin Shirer of Calhoun County. It was around 11:30 p.m. when Lingard pulled over a white Mustang GT with Delaware license plates.

At Aleksey's trial, prosecutors entered into evidence radio transmissions that recorded Lingard's last moments alive.

"G8 Orangeburg ... I-95, 97-mile marker southbound ... white Ford Mustang ... 982722 ..." Lingard's words trail off to static and finally silence.

Seconds later, a terror-stricken Deputy Shirer screams into his handset, "Orangeburg! Orangeburg 1033! Officer down, he's hit!"

According to the SCDOC, Aleksey has had no disciplinary infractions during his incarceration nor has he had any escape attempts. He was admitted to Lieber on Sept. 1, 1998.

Since Aleksey was given the death penalty in 1998, there has been a direct appeal of his case to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which was denied. A petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse that decision was also denied.

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Aleksey's petition for certiorari.

"He has a federal habeas action in District Court," Kittle said. "The federal action is presently stayed for Alexsey to seek a second state Post Conviction Relief action. We have moved to dismiss the state action."

"However, there is a claim of intellectual disability (formerly mental retardation)," he said. "The state Circuit Court has issued an order for an evaluation by South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. That evaluation is presently being arranged."

Samuel L. Stokes

Stokes was sent to the S.C. Department of Corrections on Halloween Day 1999 after being found guilty on charges of murder, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The charges against the then 37-year-old Orangeburg man were levied after the nearly nude body of Connie Snipes, 21, was found in Branchville in May 1998. She had been shot twice in the head, and an autopsy showed she had been sexually assaulted.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 refused to consider Stokes' appeal of the death sentence.

Stokes admitted to a role in the 1998 contract killing of Snipes. But he appealed the results of his 1999 trial, noting the attorney who represented him had also prosecuted him 7 years earlier.

The case is currently pending in U.S. District Court. An evidentiary hearing is set for Nov. 13, 2017.

Should the federal district court refuse to hear Stokes' case, it would go up to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court, if needed.

Stokes was admitted to Lieber on Oct. 1, 1999.

Since his entry into Lieber, Stokes has been cited for a number of disciplinary infractions including using vulgar language and throwing a substance/object on a government employee.

Marion (aka 'J.R.') Bowman Jr.

Bowman was found guilty of murder and arson in connection with Kandee Louise Martin's death.

During his trial, witnesses testified Bowman shot Martin several times before placing her body in the trunk of her car and setting the vehicle on fire.

Firefighters were called to a field off Nursery Road near Reevesville in reference to a burning car report early on the morning of Feb. 17, 2001.

Martin's severely burned body was found in the trunk of the car with gunshot wounds to her body and head. Investigators spoke to the victim's boyfriend, who indicated that Martin was last seen riding around with Bowman the previous afternoon.

It took approximately one hour and 55 minutes for jurors to decide on the death penalty during Bowman's May 2002 trial.

Bowman was admitted to Lieber on May 23, 2002. He has not attempted to escape but was disciplined for damaging property valued at over $100 in December 2016.

In 2005, the state Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's death penalty decision.

In June 2006, the court denied Bowman's certiorari position, and in 2006, Bowman filed for post conviction relief and was denied.

He has repeatedly argued through appeals that he didn't receive a fair trial, alleging, among other things, that a search of his home that netted evidence in the case wasn't warranted.

Bowman is currently on appeal from his initial state post-conviction-relief action, Kittle said.

"Argument in the appeal was heard in the S.C. Supreme Court on April 13, 2017," Kittle said. "An opinion has not yet been issued."

(source: thetandd.com)

FLORIDA:

Amidst tragedy of Hurricane Irma, Death Row Prisoner Mike Lambrix Declares Hunger Strike To Protest His Innocence

In an unprecedented move, Florida death row inmate Michael Lambrix has declared a "hunger strike" to protest his scheduled execution (October 5, 2017)

Michael Lambrix has consistently maintained his innocence in a case that remains essentially a highly circumstantial case (no eye witnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, no confession). Despite the case receiving international attention, his appeals for justice in courts have been defeated for over 30 years.

The State funded agency CCRC South recently filed a strong and comprehensive "habeas petition" in the Florida Supreme Court specifically arguing that he must be allowed to present and be heard upon the wealth of evidence, including DNA testing (see Lambrix v Jones, Case No SC17-1608)

Support in the US and around the world, as well as attorney Adam Tebrugge strongly believe that should Michael Lambrix lose his appeal again, he should then get a unique clemency hearing.

Mike Lambrix has said:

"I have been forced into a non-win situation in which the vast resources of the State of Florida are being employed to put me to death for a crime I am actually innocent of. I cannot stop anyone from executing me. But I am constitutionally entitled to protest against this injustice by declaring and maintaining a hunger strike as an expression of the free speech without governmental intrusion."

Background information

Summary of the case, key prior media interviews, and general campaign information: http://www.save-innocents.com/save-michael-lambrix.html

To access Mike Lambrix story and his life advice to others: https://www.save-humanity.org For all detailed appellate actions filed in Lambrix's case and more information: www.southerninjustice.net

(source: Contact-- Emmanuelle Purdon emmanuellepurdon@mac.com )

LOUISIANA:

Uptick in 1st-degree murder indictments in Jefferson Parish raises eyebrows

1st-degree murder charges were rare in Jefferson Parish for the past decade. When they happened - just 3 times between 2006 and 2016 - prosecutors were clear in each case about their intention to seek the death penalty, a punishment that only a 1st-degree murder conviction makes possible.

But in the past 2 months alone, District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. has matched that tally.

And in each of those 3 recent cases, Connick has either given no public indication he will pursue capital punishment or, in the most recent example, filed documents explicitly ruling it out.

In that case, 2 2nd-degree murder charges against Shaun Barnett, for allegedly shooting a Kenner couple in their bed, were raised to 1st-degree murder in a superseding indictment handed up Aug. 31.

That same day, prosecutors filed notice in 24th Judicial District Court that the death penalty was off the table for Barnett, noting that as a result, they will need only 10 jurors to get a conviction, not the 12 required in capital cases.

Without the raft of special conditions imposed on capital prosecutions, the new indictment appears to make little difference in the outcome for Barnett if he's convicted. Whether found guilty of 1st- or 2nd-degree murder, he would face life in prison without the possibility of parole - a fact that prompted some head-scratching at the Gretna courthouse about the increased charges.

Connick's office, which is notoriously tight-lipped and has a policy of not commenting on open cases, declined to discuss what was behind the move with Barnett, or the wider uptick in 1st-degree murder indictments.

And it's still possible Connick's office could yet seek death in 1 or both of the other 2 recent 1st-degree cases it filed - against Armande Tart in July and Jatory Evans in August.

But some defense advocates say privately they think Connick could be turning to first-degree murder charges to inoculate some cases against a mounting push by advocates to allow parole eligibility to lifers convicted of 2nd-degree murder.

The Legislature is in the midst of a sweeping reform effort that could threaten Louisiana's stiff "life means life" laws, which bar parole eligibility for all convicted murderers in Louisiana, along with those convicted of aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping.

A state task force that issued recommendations early this year to the Legislature suggested granting parole eligibility to inmates serving life sentences who have "served 30 years behind bars and have reached the age of 50, excluding those sentenced for `st-degree murder."

That recommendation was put on ice early in the process when proponents agreed to table all proposed sentence reductions for violent crimes in a political compromise with the state's powerful district attorneys.

Still, the reform legislation passed in the spring created a new task force to address possible sentencing changes for serious crimes. And advocates have warned if the state doesn't eventually address its rising number of long-serving inmates convicted of violent crimes, taxpayers will be increasingly burdened by a costly population of graying inmates who are "stacking up" in the system.

The Jefferson Parish Public Defenders Office would not comment for this story. State Public Defender Jay Dixon said he has noticed the uptick, but he "can't separate it from the natural ebb and flow of 1st-degree murder cases."

E. Pete Adams, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, said he hasn't discussed such a pre-emptive strategy with Connick or any other district attorney.

"But I will tell you, if you just follow the trend, it's just leniency, leniency, leniency," Adams said of the recent direction of the Legislature. "Every year we're having to face proposals to create parole eligibility for virtually anyone."

Police often book suspected killers on 1st-degree murder counts, but it's the district attorneys who decide what charges to recommend to a grand jury.

In Jefferson, that charge has for years been primarily second-degree murder, which carries an automatic life sentence without benefit of parole, probation or suspended sentence.

"Jefferson Parish historically has not sought 1st-degree murder charges without the death penalty," said Richard Bourke, of the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, "but it's something that has happened regularly across the state."

Bourke said he couldn't speculate on what has prompted the apparent change. And Connick's office could yet bring the death penalty in the Tart case, which involves a quadrouple murder, and the Evans case, which involves the slaying of a pregnant woman in her parents in a River Road home immediately set ablaze.

What's clear is that since 2007, 1st-degree murder has become a more viable charging option for prosecutors who aren't pursuing the death penalty. That's when state lawmakers dropped the unanimous jury requirement for 1st-degree murder, keeping it in place only if prosecutors seek capital punishment. 1st-degree charges require at least 1 of a raft of aggravating circumstances - that the murder was committed during a kidnapping, arson or rape, or if the victim was a police officer, elderly or a witness, for example - that prosecutors need to prove in court.

But 2nd-degree murder has been and remains a potent, reliable way to guarantee those convicted will never set foot outside of prison for the rest of their lives - at least for now.

When it comes to death penalty cases, meanwhile, court watchers say the 2 capital prosecutions Connick's office announced late last year - against accused cop-killer Jerman Neveaux and 1 of the suspects in the gruesome stabbing death of a Raising Cane's manager - donít seem to reflect any new trend toward the death penalty.

"There's been no significant increase in death-penalty prosecutions in Jefferson Parish or across the entire state," Bourke said. "There is a clear and steady decline in the use of the death penalty."

Although 10 people were sentenced to death during Connick's 1st term, from 1997 to 2003, capital prosecutions in the parish soon waned.

A capital murder prosecution against Isaiah Doyle, indicted for 1st-degree murder in 2005, was the last death-penalty case - and last 1st-degree murder indictment - against someone in Jefferson until 2013, when prosecutors sought the death penalty against Matthew Flugence for the murder of 6-year-old Ahlittia North. Flugence later pleaded guilty to the 1st-degree murder charge in exchange for a life prison sentence.

In a rare interview in 2009, Connick told The Times-Picayune his office's philosophy had evolved to reflect the reality of capital prosecutions, which he said require the state, the defense and judges "have to do the perfect case" to prevent them from being overturned.

But back then, he said his office would not shy away from seeking death in instances where it was warranted.

"It has to be, in our opinion, the worst of the worst," Connick said. "The facts of the case have to be heinous."

(source: The Advocate)

OHIO:

Inmate condemned in Ohio prison riot murders seeks review

A death row inmate convicted and sentenced in the slayings of 5 fellow inmates during a 1993 prison riot in Ohio is appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme Court on new grounds.

48-year-old Keith LaMar's latest legal push plays off the court's ruling last year finding Florida's death penalty scheme unconstitutional, saying it gave judges too much power and juries not enough to decide capital cases.

LaMar argues the Ohio Supreme Court must revisit his case in light of the new standard, since Ohio's scheme is similar. The state has until Sept. 18 to respond.

(source: WHIO news)

NEBRASKA:

How notorious serial killer John Joubert's days of slaying children came to an end

On Sept. 18, 1983, Danny Joe Eberle, 13, picked up his bundle of newspapers, loaded it on his bicycle, and pedaled off on his route delivering the Sunday Omaha World-Herald.

A few hours later, complaints started coming into the newspaper; the "sunrise edition" was late. Only 3 homes along Danny's route in Bellevue, Neb., a quiet Omaha suburb, had gotten their delivery.

Danny's father, Leonard, went out to search and found his son's bicycle, with the papers, propped up against a fence near the start of his route. "He was proud of that bike," Leonard Eberle told reporters - there was no way he would have left it, at least not willingly.

3 days later, investigators found Danny's body, bound ankle and wrist, in a wooded area near the Offutt Air Force Base. There were 8 stab wounds, as well as slashes and human bite marks on his body, but no signs of sexual assault.

Serial killer who drove 'murder mobile' pleads guilty

The hunt for his killer was the most intense the region had ever seen. Local troublemakers - sex offenders and pedophiles - were hauled in as possible suspects, but quickly ruled out. A hypnotist was called to help witnesses retrieve clear memories. A local bank offered a $40,000 reward for information. FBI psychological profiler Robert Ressler provided an analysis of the killer - white, young, and sexually ambivalent.

None of it led to anything in time to prevent another tragedy.

On Dec. 2, Christopher Paul Walden, 12, son of an Air Force officer stationed at Offutt, vanished on his way to school. Hunters found his body on Dec. 5, his throat slashed and body mutilated.

There were no breaks until January, when a church nursery school director noticed a suspicious-looking character in a car hanging around near the school.

Serial killer spotted doing volunteer work for elementary school

As she wrote down his license plate number, he attacked, screaming he was going to kill her. She managed to get away and reported the incident and the license number to police.

The car was a rental that was traced to Air Force radar technician John Joubert, 20, stationed at Offutt.

He fit the profile the FBI had conjured up for the murderer and resembled composite sketches pulled from witness memories.

An unusual kind of rope, containing about 100 different fibers, was found among his belongings. It matched the rope that had been used to bind Danny's hands and feet. The rope had been manufactured in Korea, and was rarely used in the United States.

Real estate serial killer pleads guilty to 7 murders

When detectives mentioned the rope to him, Joubert quickly confessed. He said he was glad he had been caught because he was certain he would kill again, Ressler wrote in "Whoever Fights Monsters: My 20 Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI."

Joubert's life appeared to have been one long, simmering rage. He was born in Lawrence, Mass., but moved with his mother to Portland, Maine, after his parents divorced. He had an IQ of 123, was an Eagle Scout, and, like one his victims, had a paper route.

Fantasies of violence and cannibalism erupted when he was very young. At just 6, around the time his parents' marriage unraveled, he said he had dreamed of strangling his baby-sitter and eating her body. He would later say that these horrific musings were provoked by seeing his father try to strangle his mother.

Violence did not remain trapped in his imagination for long. In December 1979, he stabbed a 6-year-old girl with a pencil as he pedaled past her on his bicycle. Similar attacks started happening in areas near Portland, but the assailant was never caught.

Police had accused Phoenix serial killer's gun in 2015

After the Nebraska murders, investigators looked into unsolved cases in Maine. One bore Joubert's signature. Ricky Stetson, 11, had gone out jogging on Aug. 22, 1982. He was later found stabbed in the chest. Like Danny, he had been mutilated and bitten, but there was no sign of sexual molestation.

Joubert was tried for the Stetson killing and received a life sentence in Maine. In Nebraska, he pleaded guilty to the 2 murders and got the death penalty.

During his confession, a detective asked him if he would kill again if he got out of jail. "That's my big worry," Joubert said. "It's scaring me quite a bit, yes."

For a dozen years on death row, Joubert pored over law texts, read Albert Camus, Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway and the works of other literary lights, lifted weights, and learned to draw.

2 of his drawings depicted scenes of violence reminiscent of the murders. In Mark Pettit's book, "A Need to Kill: The Death Row Drawings," the author said he obtained copies of the artwork in 2014 and asked crime profilers for their opinions. To them, the drawings suggested that Joubert would find his murderous impulses impossible to resist, and would likely kill other kids.

As his execution date neared, Joubert insisted he was a changed man. He said he had even found a first love, a woman in Ireland who had been corresponding with him as a pen pal.

In his appeals, he argued that the electric chair was cruel and unusual punishment. Capt. Jeff Davis of the Sarpy County Sheriff's department told the Associated Press, "No matter what they do to him, nothing is going to take away the horror and terror those children felt, let alone what their parents will go through all their lives."

Pleas for clemency went to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in the end, Joubert kept his date with the electric chair on July 17, 1996.

(source" nydailynews.com)

IDAHO:

Jurors come, go for Renfro

More than 20 potential jurors have been selected to participate in voir dire, the 2nd phase of the process to seat a jury in the Jonathan Renfro murder trial scheduled to begin this month in Coeur d'Alene's First District Court.

The potential jurors were chosen before Friday afternoon from a panel of 100 jurors who appeared this week for orientation at the old Kootenai County Courthouse at 501 Government Way.

The panel is the 1st of 10 panels making up more than 800 candidates called for jury duty in the murder trial of Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore, which is expected to last 3 weeks or more.

Renfro, 29, is accused of shooting Moore with a Glock pistol he had in his pocket when the officer confronted him after dark in a neighborhood where residents had reported burglaries and vandalism.

If he is convicted, Renfro could face the death penalty.

Attorneys hoped to select 44 candidates by early next week before continuing the voir dire, which is the final interview phase. In voir dire, the number of potential jurors is winnowed down to 16, including 12 jurors and 4 alternates, said jury commissioner Pete Barnes.

In the trial's guilt phase, jurors must determine if Renfro pulled the trigger on May 5, 2015, the night Moore died. In the penalty phase, jurors will decide if the death penalty is warranted.

Many of the candidates from the first phase were released earlier this week, opening the door for candidates from the 2nd panel to begin the selection process. Candidates are questioned in front of fellow jury candidates, and privately.

Jurors who voiced strongly held beliefs against, or in favor of, the death penalty were released before the process began.

"They need a total of 44 jurors to participate in the voir dire process," Barnes said. "I heard they've got 25 right now."

Voir dire will likely begin by the middle of next week.

"No telling how long that takes," Barnes said. "They are making good progress in selecting the final 44 jurors for the voir dire."

(source: cdapress.com)

CALIFORNIA:

Jury Rules 62-Year-Old Moreno Valley Woman Should Receive Death Penalty for Killing Her Husband in 2009

A jury recommended a Moreno Valley woman be put to death for fatally shooting her husband in 2009 after evidence was presented suggesting he was not the first husband she had killed, officials said Friday.

Lorraine Alison Hunter, 62, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death her truck driver husband, Albert Thomas, on Aug. 21, according to a statement from the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

At that time, the jury also found that she had killed Thomas for financial gain and committed the crime while lying in wait.

Though she was prevented from collecting the money, prosecutors alleged that Hunter was aware of more than $1 million available in life insurance policies in Thomas' name in the event he was murdered.

In determining whether the 62-year-old should be given the death penalty, jurors were shown evidence that another husband of hers was murdered in 1996 in Inglewood. That time, it appears she collected around $312,000 in life insurance funds, officials said.

No one was ever charged in that case.

Thomas was found shot to death in the sleeper section of the semitruck he drove for work on Nov. 4, 2009. The vehicle was parked in a dirt lot near the intersection of Eucalyptus and Edgemont avenues in Moreno Valley at the time, officials said.

Though law enforcement interviewed Hunter in the immediate aftermath of the discovery, she was not arrested until 2011.

Hunter originally testified she was not aware of any life insurance policies in her husband's name, but investigators later determined she had already spoke to the trucking company that employed him and learned of 2 policies totaling $225,000 that would double if he were murdered.

"The administrator at the trucking company told detectives that Hunter, prior to Thomas being found dead, had personally been told about the policies and that they doubled in the case of a murder," DA's officials said in the press release.

A relative also provided further information that led to her arrest and helped authorities bring charges in the killing, according to prosecutors.

Briuana Hunter, the defendant's daughter, testified under a plea deal that she and her mother spent months plotting Thomas' death, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

"She told me, 'We need to figure something out," the 23-year-old told the court, the newspaper reported. "She said that we needed the money. At first, I didn't know what she meant, but later on, it became clear."

Detectives also learned that, in addition to the $450,000 available through Thomas' job if he were murdered, Hunter forged her husband's signature in attempt to secure another life insurance policy in the amount of $750,000 6 months before his killing.

However, her inability to obtain a certified copy of the death certificate prevented her from collecting any of the money.

Hunter is expected to be sentenced on Dec. 8. The DA's office said it seeks to sentence her to death in the case.

(source: KTLA news)

JAPAN:

Death-row inmate jailed for killing 4 people in 2002 dies of illness

A death-row inmate convicted of killing 4 people in 2002 has died of illness at a Tokyo detention center, the Justice Ministry said Sunday.

Tetsuo Odajima, 74, was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m. Saturday after losing consciousness. He had suffered esophageal cancer and been treated at the detention facility, the ministry said.

Odajima and an accomplice strangled the wife and daughter of Takaichi Mabuchi, who at the time was president of Mabuchi Motors, after breaking into their home in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, in August 2002.

After stealing hundreds of thousands of yen in cash and jewelry items, Odajima set fire to the house.

Odajima and Katsumi Morita also killed a 71-year-old dentist in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, in September 2002, and the wife of a discount ticket shop operator in Abiko, Chiba Prefecture, in November of that year in murder-robbery cases.

According to the ministry, Odajima was diagnosed with esophageal cancer around January this year. As he refused medical treatment, he had been receiving nutritional support and administered pain relief medication.

The Chiba District Court handed down the death penalty to Odajima in March 2007. Although he once appealed to a high court, he dropped the motion in November that year and the ruling was finalized.

The district court also sentenced Morita to death in December 2006, and the decision was upheld by the Tokyo High Court in March 2008.

K (source: japantimes.co.jp)

VIETNAM:

Death row inmates arrested after a week on the run in Vietnam----Suspicion is hanging over the prison guards who allowed them to escape.

Vietnamese police have arrested 2 death row convicts who escaped from a Hanoi prison a week ago.

Nguyen Van Tinh, 28, was arrested in Hoa Binh Province which neighbors the capital in the early hours of Sunday.

His accomplice Le Van Tho, 37, was arrested 8 hours earlier while taking a taxi in Hai Duong Province, around an hour's drive from Hanoi.

Tinh was sentenced to death in April for heroin trafficking. Tho received the death penalty in May for drug trafficking, murder and fraud. Both have appealed their sentences.

They shared a cell in Thanh Oai District on the outskirts of Hanoi which they broke out of on the night of September 10 during heavy downpours.

An investigation found they managed to unlock their cuffs, make a hole in the wall of their cell and climb out of the prison using rope.

They took a motorbike from a relative in Hanoi and fled the city, and were first spotted in Ha Long 3 nights later.

Vietnam's top prosecutors have ordered an investigation into the role the prison guards played in the breakout.

(source: vnexpress.net)

IRAN----execution

Man Hanged on Murder Charges, Authorities Silent

A prisoner by the name of Abuzar Ghadami was reportedly hanged at Shiraz's Adel Abad Prison on murder charges.

According to the human rights news agency, HRANA, the execution was carried out on the morning of Monday September 11.

Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and state-run media, have not announced Abuzar Ghadami's execution.

(source: Iran Human Rights)

IRAQ:

Iraqi Prime Minister: German Teen Runaway Could Face Death Penalty

Iraq's prime minister says the teenage German girl found in Mosul last month who ran away from home after communicating with Islamic State group extremists online is still being held in a Baghdad prison.

Speaking to The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Saturday, Haider Al-Abadi says Iraq's judiciary will decide if the teen will face the death penalty.

"You know teenagers under certain laws, they are accountable for their actions especially if the act is a criminal activity when it amounts to killing innocent people," he said.

16-year-old Linda W. ran away last summer from her hometown of Pulsnitz in eastern Germany. She was found in the basement of a home in Mosul's Old City by Iraqi forces who are driving IS militants from the city.

(source: Associated Press)

EGYPT:

Criminal court set to sentence Libyan Da'ish members to death penalty

Cairo Criminal Court referred the papers of 7 defendants in the "Da'ish Libya" case, Saturday, to Grand Mufti Shawky Allam, before sentencing them to the death penalty.

The court set the final verdict date as October November 25 for the 20 defendants.

A referral to the mufti is required in the Egyptian court system ahead of death sentences, even though the mufti's opinion is advisory not binding.

Prosecution referred the defendants to trial court last year for forming a terrorist cell affiliated to the "Islamic State (IS)" faction in Libya, alleging that a number of the defendants were involved in the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

The defendants face accusations of "violence and vandalism, resisting authorities and possession of firearms, which led to a public security threat."

According to investigations, the 20 defendants received military training at IS camps in Syria and Libya.

The defendants made an agreement with Libyan IS leaders to establish a group in Egypt's Matrouh governorate, which would embrace the ideas of ISIS, according to the investigations.

The group had planned to target the head of security in Matrouh, governorate police officers and sheikhs, who disapproved of Takfiri fundamentalist ideas.

Egypt listed the IS groups and their affiliates as "terrorist organizations" per a court ruling in November 2014.

(source: Egypt Independent)

INDIA:

HC commutes mans death penalty to life term in double murder

The Madras High Court has commuted the death sentence awarded by a Tirupur court to 1 of the 5 accused in a double murder case to life imprisonment.

A division bench of justices PN Prakash and CV Karthikeyan yesterday commuted the death sentence awarded by the Tirupur Mahila Court to Selvam alias Koolai Selvam to life term.

It also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on the convict and said if he failed to pay the amount, he would have to undergo another year of rigorous imprisonment.

The 2 prison terms would run consecutively and not concurrently, the court said.

The court said there was no evidence against another accused, Rangaraj, who too was awarded death penalty by the lower court, and acquitted him of all the charges.

The court, which also set free 2 other accused in the case -- Nagaraj and Anandan -- however, upheld the life sentence of another accused, Deivasigamani.

According to the prosecution, a dispute had arisen between Selvam and one Thangavelu over a financial transaction in 2015 and subsequently, the latter was killed by a gang, led by the former.

Investigations revealed that both Thangavelu and his daughter, Mahalakshmi, were burnt to death at different places under the Mangalam police station limits in Tirupur and Vadavalli police station limits in Coimbatore, by the gang.

Reducing the sentence, the bench said, "Insofar as Selvam (A1) is concerned, the sentencing must address his concerns in relation to judicial discretion and there must be an equal treatment of similarly situated convicts."

It observed that though it held Selvam guilty of the murders of Thangavelu and Mahalakshmi, the question which had to be addressed was, whether his act warranted capital punishment or whether life imprisonment, "which would act not only as a retribution for his crime, but also, to some extent, hopefully reform him", would be sufficient.

"However, had this motive been removed or had this entire incident not surfaced in the life of Selvam, the court should also ask the question whether he would still have pushed himself to commit a grisly crime of murder.

"If the answer is yes, then certainly, he would deserve capital punishment, but, if there is a doubt that he might not have exhibited the same conduct, then it is only just that the court also recognises the fact and awards him life imprisonment," it said.

(source: Press Trust of India)

SAINT LUCIA:

Francis: Death penalty will not solve 'murder crisis'

Attorney at Law, Mary Francis, has dismissed a statement Thursday by National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, in support of capital punishment, asserting that implementing the death penalty will not solve the 'murder crisis' in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean.

"If the issue of the death penalty was not such a serious matter, I would say that his comments are laughable to me," Mary Francis told Saint Lucia Times.

The National Security Minister had complained that criminals were being given a slap on the wrist by the courts, and announced plans to visit the gallows at Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) to ensure that the mechanisms were in working order.

But Mary Francis has declared that she cannot not see how, in this 21st century, implementing the death penalty will address the problem of murder.

Saint Lucia has so far recorded 37 homicides.

"We are fooling ourselves into believing that if you send people to the gallows, automatically it is going to be a deterrent," the outspoken Human Rights Activist asserted.

She said there is no factual basis to prove that executions deter violent crime.

The Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights recalled that there was a recommendation some years ago that Saint Lucia abolish the death penalty because it is a barbaric, inhuman measure which goes against the right to life - the most important human right.

"If you take away that right, what other human rights are there?" The Attorney at Law remarked.

"If the state is saying killing is wrong, the state cannot commit a wrong. 2 wrongs don't make a right," Mary Francis argued.

She explained that the issue of gang violence and murders is rooted in the drugs trade and socio-economic problems including improper parenting.

While making it clear that she does not condone crime, Francis explained that the problem of criminal behaviour is multi-faceted.

"You just cannot simply talk about visiting the gallows and the death penalty. In this day and age these things sound almost laughable," she told St Lucia Times.

(source: Saint Lucia Times)

SEPTEMBER 16, 2017:

PENNSYLVANIA:

Bond set for 3 suspects in Southern District Court----All 3 suspects in Monday's killing of a 19-year-old New Philadelphia man appeared in Southern District Court in Uhrichsville Friday morning.

Bond has been set at $5 million for one of the suspects in Monday's murder of a 19-year-old New Philadelphia man who was found dead on a lawn in Newcomerstown.

In the Southern District of Tuscarawas County Court, Judge Brad L. Hillyer also set bond for the other 2 suspects at $2 million on Friday morning.

Newcomerstown police Officer Jennifer Lowery declined to say whether the higher bond for Arnoldo Moreno-Orduno, 19, of Dillonvale, indicated that he was the gunman.

"That I don't know, to be honest," said Lowery, who is investigating the killing with Newcomerstown Police Chief Gary Holland. "We have ideas, but it's information that we cannot give out yet because we are still actually investigating the case.

"We're not 100 % conclusive in our findings; we can't say anything."

Although all 3 suspects are Jefferson County residents, Moreno-Orduno was born in Mexico, according to his defense attorney Francesca Carinci of Steubenville. She said his mother married an American man who adopted him.

Carinci, who handled the adoption, said that Moreno-Orduno's birth certificate was never obtained from Mexico.

She said her client has green-card status. People holding green cards are permanent residents who may live and work in the United States.

Carinci said deportation is a possibility for her client, although she identified that as the least of anyone';s worries.

All 3 suspects have been charged with aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery

(source: timesreporter.com)

NORTH CAROLINA----female faces possilbe death penalty

Stephanie Frazier has 1st hearing on murder charge

Accused murderer Stephanie Frazier stood before District Court Judge David McFayden Thursday morning to hear the charges listed against her.

Stephanie T. Frazier, 45, of 105 Great Oaks Court, Havelock, was charged with 1 open count of murder in Wednesday's shooting death of her husband, Marvin Orlando Frazier, 55, of the same address.

He was shot at 12:30 p.m. while in his car outside a home on Godette School Road in the Harlowe community outside of Havelock.

She fled on a 4-wheeler, according to Captain John Whitfield of the Craven County Sheriff's Office, and road blocks were formed in an attempt to find her. She was captured in the same general vicinity at 4 p.m. after she abandoned the vehicle and following a short foot chase.

Marvin Frazier died at the scene.

Frazier is currently charged with 1 count of homicide. McFayden told her the maximum sentence she could face, if found guilty, is life without parole or the death penalty. She stood calmly throughout the short hearing, quietly answering the judge's questions.

A few family members were in the courtroom during the hearing and, as she was escorted from the room, 1 of her daughters burst into tears. Frazier looked back toward her daughter but said nothing.

Frazier will be assigned an attorney and is currently being housed in the Craven County Jail without bond.

(source: newbernsj.com)

GEORGIA----impending execution

At Issue: Should juror's racial bias halt execution?

Keith Tharpe faces the death penalty for killing his sister-in-law and kidnapping and raping his estranged wife. His lawyers have appealed the sentence because 1 of the jurors who voted for his execution may have been racially biased.

Keith Tharpe was convicted in 1991 of killing his sister-in-law and kidnapping and raping his estranged wife on Setp. 25, 1990. The wife left him and moved in with her parents. He intercepted her and her sister, Jacqueline Freeman, while they were on their way to work. He killed her sister, dragged her in a ditch and raped her and drove her to Macon to force her to withdraw money from her credit union account.

With only 100 days to prepare the case, Tharpe's defense team lost the trial. The jury unanimously sentenced him to death.

8 years later, claims of a racially bias juror surfaced. The man in question, Barney Gattie, admitted he used racial epithets and racially biased language when describing Tharpe. Now-deceased, Gattie's signed an affidavit for Tharpe's lawyers stating that. 2 days later, he signed another affidavit for the state saying that he voted for Tharpe to receive the death penalty because he was a cold, calculated murderer, not because he was black.

Tharpe's lawyers filed new motions after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March that courts can examine what happened in a jury room when there are showings that racial prejudice played a role in the deliberations.

U.S. District judge rejected the claims because 10 other jurors said there was no racial animus in their deliberations.

Tharpe's lawyers are now asking the 11th Circuit to consider the juror misconduct claim.

What do you think? Should the death penalty be thrown out because at least one member of the jury appearted to be racially biased? Or should the claims of the other 10 jurors prove that their was no bias in the deliberations? Send your response to communitynews@ajc.com. Replies may be edited for length and/or clarity and may be published in print and/or online.

(source: Atlanta Journal-Consitution)

FLORIDA:

Amidst tragedy of Hurricane Irma, M. Lambrix Declares Hunger Strike To Protest His Innocence

In an unprecedented move, Florida death row inmate Michael Lambrix has declared a "hunger strike" to protest his execution (October 5, 2017)

Michael Lambrix has consistently maintained his innocence in a case that remains essentially a highly circumstantial case (no eye witnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, no confession). Despite the case receiving international attention, his appeals for justice in courts have been defeated for over 30 years.

The State funded agency CCRC South recently filed a strong and comprehensive "habeas petition" in the Florida Supreme Court specifically arguing that he must be allowed to present and be heard upon the wealth of evidence, including DNA testing (see Lambrix v Jones, Case No SC17-1608)

Support in the US and around the world, as well as attorney Adam Tebrugge strongly believe that should Michael Lambrix lose his appeal again, he should then get a unique clemency hearing.

Mike Lambrix has said:

" I have been forced into a non-win situation in which the vast resources of the State of Florida are being employed to put me to death for a crime I am actually innocent of. I cannot stop anyone from executing me. But I am constitutionally entitled to protest against this injustice by declaring and maintaining a hunger strike as an expression of the free speech without governmental intrusion."

Please send a message email, letter AND phone to the Governor's office: For further details: http://www.save-innocents.com/save-michael-lambrix.html

(source: change.org)

TENNESSEE:

Man says he served as lookout as friend shot Tennessee woman

A man charged in the case of a slain Tennessee nursing student said Thursday that he helped his friend unload the injured woman's body from a truck and served as a lookout when the friend shot her near a river.

Jason Autry testified in the trial of Zachary Adams in Savannah, Tennessee. Adams, 33, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, raping and killing Holly Bobo, who was 20 when she disappeared from her home in Parsons on April 13, 2011.

Her remains were found 3 1/2 years later in woods not far from her home in Decatur County, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Nashville. Adams faces the death penalty if convicted of 1st-degree murder.

Autry also is charged in connection with Bobo's rape, kidnapping and slaying. He is on a list of witnesses who could get immunity in the case, and he told prosecutor Jennifer Nichols during questioning that he was testifying because he wanted leniency.

Adams' trial began Monday. Autry's testimony provided the most detailed description of the connection between Adams and Bobo's killing. Boboís brother, Clint, has testified he saw his sister walk into woods behind their family's home with an unidentified man on the day she disappeared.

Autry said Adams provided some graphic details when he told Autry that he, his brother John Dylan Adams and Autry's cousin Shayne Austin had raped Bobo. John Dylan Adams also is charged in the case. His trial has not been set. Austin was found dead in an apparent suicide in Florida in February 2015.

Wearing a white prison uniform with the words "maximum security" on the back of his shirt, Autry told jurors he had been locked up for theft and drug convictions 3 times before he was jailed in the Bobo case. He acknowledged an addiction to methamphetamine and morphine.

Autry said he'd known Zachary Adams for years. He said he called Adams on the day of Bobo's disappearance asking Adams for a morphine pill. When Adams called him back, he told Autry that he needed his help.

Autry then drove to Austin's trailer, where Adams had driven with Bobo wrapped in a blanket in the back of his pickup truck, Autry said.

Autry, whose nickname is "Train," said he bought a morphine pill and went to his car, cooked it down, mixed it with meth and injected it.

He then walked to Adams' truck.

"He said 'I need you to help me bury this body,'" Autry said. "He said, 'Train, that's Holly Bobo.'"

Adams and Autry drove Adams' truck to the river and retrieved Bobo's body from the truck, he said. He said they didn't have the necessary tools to dig a grave, so they decided to throw her into the river, at a spot under a bridge.

But Bobo made a sound and moved, indicating she was still alive. Adams retrieved a pistol from his truck, Autry said.

Autry said he told Adams to wait. Autry then walked around the area to make sure no one was around, he said.

Autry told Adams the area was clear. He then heard a gunshot coming from the location where Adams and Bobo were.

"It sounded like, boom, boom, boom, underneath that bridge. It was just one shot but it echoed," Autry said. "Birds went everywhere, all up under that bridge. Then just dead silence for just a second."

Autry said he heard a boat engine. Fearing capture, he and Adams loaded Bobo's body back into the truck and drove away, Autry said.

Autry then told Adams he had to meet his girlfriend for lunch. But there was another reason he wanted to leave, Autry said.

"I realized that this old boy had made some bad mistakes, some bad judgments," Autry said. "I was looking for a way to put some distance between me and that situation."

Autry later faced questions from defense attorney Jennifer Thompson about his drug use, including how he injected it the day they went to the river.

Autry acknowledged failing to remember calls he placed that morning.

"Once that euphoria kicked in, you could say my track of time was altered," Autry said.

Later, Thompson asked if being high affects his memory.

Autry said: "That, and time, yes. We're discussing events that happened 6 years ago."

Autry also acknowledged lying when he said after he was charged that he did not know who hurt Bobo.

Bobo's disappearance led to a massive search in western Tennessee. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has said it was the most exhaustive and expensive investigation the agency ever conducted.

(source: WPSD news)

ARKANSAS:

Arkansas death-row inmate tries to drop appeal blocking execution; request denied

Arkansas' Supreme Court justices, who in April stayed the execution of Don Davis, said Thursday that the condemned killer cannot fire his legal team and drop the appeal that has, for now, spared his life.

In a series of handwritten motions sent from prison over the past 2 months, Davis, 52, asked the high court to drop his case and remove the ongoing stay preventing his execution.

Davis did not explain his rationale. Each motion, on lined legal paper, contains just a few simple sentences in neatly written, curvy printed lettering.

Federal public defenders hired to represent Davis separately filed a reply, asking the court to only recognize arguments made by Davis' legal team, and to dismiss the prisoner's motions.

A response from the state attorney called Davis' letters a "dilatory tactic."

The Supreme Court, ruling on motions in dozens of cases Thursday, simply denied Davis' request without a written opinion.

Scott Braden, one of Davis' federal public defenders, said he had not spoken recently with his client -- one of several men he represents on death row -- and did not know why Davis sought to end the stay on his execution.

Asked if Davis wanted to die, Braden said, "He sure didn't in April."

Davis has lived in a solitary cell on death row since 1992, when he was convicted in the execution-style shooting of Jane Daniel, 62, after robbing her inside her Rogers home.

During his yearslong appeals process, Davis was appointed federal defenders by a U.S. district judge. Braden said it would be up to a federal judge to remove Davis' legal team.

The Arkansas Supreme Court "didn't appoint us, so they cannot be the one to unappoint us," Braden said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson set Davis' execution for April 17, part of the 1st pair in a series of 8 planned executions that brought international news crews -- and a traffic jam of lawsuits -- to Arkansas. Davis made it as far as the holding cell outside the execution chamber at the Cummins prison before his execution was called off at 11:45 p.m. that day.

Lawyers for Davis and Bruce Earl Ward, another inmate set to die April 17, successfully petitioned the Arkansas Supreme Court to delay the executions while the U.S. Supreme Court separately considered a case out of Alabama, where a condemned man sought access to an independent mental health examination presented at trial.

Courts ultimately blocked 4 of the 8 planned executions. The other 4 inmates were put to death.

By the times the U.S. high court ruled in favor of the Alabama prisoner in McWilliams v. Dunn, Arkansas' supply of a drug needed to conduct executions had expired. Davis' attorneys are now asking justices in Arkansas to apply the same right to independent mental health examinations to Davis and Ward, whose executions remain on hold.

The Arkansas Department of Correction announced in August that it has again obtained a supply of drugs to carry out lethal injections, and Hutchinson set a Nov. 9 execution date for Jack Gordon Greene, who was not among those set to die in April.

Stays remain in place for 3 of the men granted April reprieves, and Hutchinson has since granted clemency to a 4th condemned man.

(source: arkansasonline.com)

*******************

Arkansas board to hear condemned killer's bid for clemency

The Arkansas Parole Board says it will hear a convicted murderer's bid for clemency just more than a month before he's scheduled to be executed.

The board said Friday it will hold a hearing Oct. 4 on Jack Greene's application for executive clemency. Greene was convicted of killing Sidney Jethro Burnett in 1991 after Burnett and his wife accused Greene of arson.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month scheduled Greene's execution for Nov. 9 after the state said it had a new supply of midazolam, 1 of 3 drugs the state uses for lethal injection.

In April, the state scheduled 8 executions before its previous supply of midazolam expired. 4 prisoners were put to death and 4 other men were spared by the courts.

(source: Associated Press)

MISSOURI:

Not guilty pleas entered for man charged in officer's death

A Montana judge entered not guilty pleas on behalf of a California man charged in the death of a sheriff's deputy and for shots fired at other officers during a pursuit that spanned the southwestern part of the state.

Lloyd Barrus appeared before District Judge Kathy Seeley in Townsend on Friday.

Seeley read the charges, which include deliberate homicide by accountability for the May 16 death of Broadwater County Deputy Mason Moore. Prosecutors have said they are seeking the death penalty.

Barrus also is charged with attempted deliberate homicide, attempted deliberate homicide by accountability, assault on a peace officer and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Prosecutors believe Barrus' son, Marshall Barrus, killed Moore. Marshall Barrus was shot and killed by a law enforcement officer after a pursuit that ended near Missoula.

(source: Associated Press)

************************

"I want it done." Mother of Hailey Owens shares thoughts on Craig Wood trial

The Springfield teacher's aide and coach charged with murdering a 10 year-old Hailey Owens was back in front of a judge Friday.

Craig Wood will be facing the death penalty if convicted.

"I've been through a lot and everything. I'm glad people are still behind me," says Stacy Herman.

It's been years since her daughter, Hailey Owens was kidnapped and murdered.

"Their wish is that Mr. Wood, who knows what he did, expresses remorse, accepts responsibility and full accountability for his actions," says Herman's attorney, David Ransin.

Herman was against the death penalty as punishment but has since changed her mind.

"They're willing to go with that decision being made," says Ransin.

2 more hearings are scheduled before the trial starts.

"I always have this gut feeling that what if they bring up a subject that I've already seen and heard and I have to relive it again," says Herman.

She is doing her best to prepare herself.

"I want it done. It's been 3 years. I'm hoping that it will be finished soon. I'll have closure and justice for her finally," she says.

Several items were discussed during Friday's hearing including the state's accusations of wrong doing by defense attorneys.

Prosecutor Todd Myers presented a video recording as evidence, explaining to the court what was on it. He wanted the judge to play it in court.

"The video itself clearly shows Mr. Stevens stomping his foot, indicating to Mr. Wood that this is where, hey this is where you need to say you're not going to say anything," he said.

Myers also asked the judge to play two separate audio recordings of conversations Wood had with his father and his friend.

"The defendant discusses how his attorney, Mr. Barrigan, instructed him on how to proceed."

Ransin explained the reasoning behind the state's request.

"The state presented information of conversations which the prosecution believes shows a cavalier and light-hearted, not serious appreciation and attitude towards this entire aspect," he said.

Wood's defense attorney, Patrick Barrigan objected.

"None of these exhibits are relevant in our view to what the court has to decide today. These are for media consumption only so they can be played on the evening news or the News Leader herald tomorrow," he said.

Wood's request to have the media banned from all further proceedings was denied.

As was his request to have the death penalty removed, citing it was against his constitutional rights.

Wood's mental state during the crime was also brought up. He refused to cooperate with doctors hired by the prosecution to evaluate him. His attorney told the court that Wood invoked his 5th amendment rights. If Wood's attorneys argue a diminished mental capacity as a defense for the crime, the judge said he would have to be examined by doctors on both sides for any evidence to be deemed fair and admissible.

Wood's murder trial is scheduled to move forward next month.

(source: KSPR news)

OKLAHOMA:

Opening statements begin in trial of Moore beheading suspect

Officials say 12 jurors and 3 alternates have been seated in the trial of beheading suspect Alton Nolen.

Nolen stands accused of beheading a former coworker and stabbing another in September 2014. Authorities say Nolen stabbed 54-year-old Colleen Hufford multiple times and beheaded her inside the Vaughan Foods distribution center on September 25, 2014.

After attacking Hufford, Nolen allegedly stabbed 43-year-old Traci Johnson numerous times before he was shot by Mark Vaughan, the former CEO of the company and a reserve sheriff's deputy.

Hufford died from her injuries, but Johnson survived.

In court Thursday, Nolen sat in court surrounded by 2 sheriff's deputies. His eyes were shut, and his ears were covered.

During opening statements, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn argued Nolen "brutally" murdered Hufford after he went home to grab a knife after an apparent altercation at Vaughn Foods that day.

According to Mashburn, who went into graphic detail, it was well know that security guards left at 4 p.m. each day.

The defense argues that it is clear that Nolen killed Hufford, but says Nolen is mentally ill and did not understand what he was doing was wrong.

Before being selected, the jurors were questioned on their educational background and family history of mental illnesses.

They were also asked if they would be able to stay impartial to Nolen's behavior in court and whether they had a chance to review all 3 possible sentencing options should Nolen be found guilty, which includes the death penalty.

(source: KFOR news)

NEVADA----impending volunteer execution

Judge Allows Death Row Inmate To Review Execution Manual

As the state prepares to execute a death penalty sentence for the 1st time in over a decade, the condemned inmate and his lawyers will be able to review the state's execution manual according to a recent court order.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Scott Raymond Dozier is scheduled to be put to death November 14 for 2 murder convictions, and Thursday District Judge Jennifer Togliatti ruled the manual released to them - but not to the public.

Some controversy has come over the state's untried method of execution, which consists of the drugs diazepam, fentanyl, and a muscle relaxant.

Federal public defenders representing Dozier want the method to be reviewed by a medical expert.

(source: KNPR news)

CALIFORNIA:

Laci Peterson Murder: Was Evidence Lost That Points to Scott's Innocence?

When Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner, were murdered in 2003, the story quickly became international news, with newspapers and magazines running pictures of a smiling and pregnant Laci.

Authorities quickly zeroed in on Laci's husband, Scott Peterson. He was arrested days later and was convicted the following year, after which he was sentenced to the death penalty.

But the latest episode he ongoing A&E docuseries, The Murder of Laci Peterson, takes a close look at the timeline prosecutors used to convict Peterson.

The episode spotlights several pages of evidence that were allegedly inadvertently separated from the rest of the documents presented during discovery, including handwritten notes from the Peterson's mail carrier, Russell Graybill. (The show alleges that several pages did not scan correctly, so the evidence was presented to the defense team separately.)

In Graybill's notes, he claims the family dog, McKenzie, did not bark at him when he delivered their mail between 10:35 and 10:50 a.m. The account of Graybill, a defense witness, diverges from that of prosecution witness Karen Servas regarding McKenzie's whereabouts, leading to different conclusions of when Laci was killed.

Servas testified that she found McKenzie wandering around the neighborhood at around 10:18 a.m. on the day of her death and returned the dog to the Peterson's fenced yard. The prosecution says that this indicates that Laci was killed before 10:18 a.m.

But the defense now contends that Laci walked McKenzie after Servas returned the dog to the yard, indicating that she was alive between 10:35 and 10:50 a.m., while the mail carrier was on their street. Defense attorneys say that Scott Peterson was logged in to his work computer during this time, meaning that he could not have killed her.

Although the handwritten notes were not presented at trial, Graybill testified in Peterson's 2004 trial and his testimony did not sway jurors who convicted him of 1st-degree murder - a decision that Peterson says "staggered" him. Members of Peterson's defense team who appear on the show theorize that Graybill's notes could help overturn the verdict.

Peterson, now 44, sits on death row in San Quentin State Prison. His attorneys have requested a new trial.

(source: people.com)

USA:

While blacks executed, whites more likely to walk free in killings of black men----As long as society holds stereotypes among core values, implicit biases will remain at every level of the justice system

A recent headline in The Washington Post said it all: "A death penalty landmark for Florida: Executing a white man for killing a black man."

Since the 1970s, when the death penalty was reinstated, there have been 92 executions in Florida. Of those, nearly 20 were black men executed for killing a white victim. But until Aug. 24, the state had never, in modern history, employed the death penalty in the other direction - executing a non-Latino white male for killing a black victim.

The high-profile cases that have involved the death of blacks nationwide are all too familiar. And so are the names of the non-convicted: George Zimmerman, Betty Shelby, Darren Wilson.

These are just a few of the people who have walked free after killing an innocent black person. While family members were forced to mourn the loss of their loved one, these killers faced no consequences for their actions. The killers were from different walks of life, but with 1 thing in common: They all used snap judgment based on preconceived notions to kill a black man.

A recent report by the Marshall Project in collaboration with The Upshot, provides hard evidence of what many have already suspected: Killings of black men by whites are far more likely to be ruled "justifiable." This is a creative way for the system to say, "Yes, you killed someone, but we're going to allow you to continue living your life even though an innocent black man is dead."

Crimes are deemed justifiable when the person attacking has reason to believe they are in danger or are witnessing a crime. This label of "justifiable homicide," which can be categorized as "felon killed by private citizen" or "felon killed by police officer," already presumes something about the deceased, that they were committing a felonious act.

From the beginning of this country's history, we've seen the system slap an all-too-familiar criminal label on a black man, without giving that man a fair trial or the opportunity to defend himself.

This racial disparity persists despite countless variables, including age and location. Regardless of the circumstances, white people were deemed "justified" in their actions due to a fatal flaw in our society that holds stereotypes as a core value. This implicit bias exists at all levels of the justice system, from killer to prosecutor to jury. Many of these individuals would vehemently argue, and very probably believe, they harbor no racial bias. But the facts show otherwise.

To claim self-defense, a person does not need to actually be in danger, they must only believe they are. And implicit biases - those deep-seated racist stereotypes that affect our choices and decisions - have a direct influence on whether someone believes they are in danger.

A study published by the American Psychological Association that included photos of black and white football players showed that participants judged blacks as larger, stronger and, in some cases, more harmful than whites of the same size. In many people's minds, "black" equates to "attack." The belief in misguided stereotypes is enough to trigger a sense of fear, a feeling so strong that people grant themselves permission to end someone else's life.

This term "justifiable" boils down to one fundamentally flawed central idea: that black lives do not matter as much as white lives. In general, the number of deaths deemed justifiable is small. A mere 2% of deaths are justified when one person kills another. A white person who kills a black man, however, is more than 8 times as likely to be considered justified, and to receive no more than a slap on the wrist.

These stereotypes and preconceptions permeate every part of the American justice system. A killer has several opportunities to establish self-defense. A prosecutor can drop charges, a grand jury can choose not to indict, a jury can declare the killer not guilty. Each of these stages is influenced by the racial biases of those in power. But the victim, the killed black man, has no chance, at any stage of justice, to speak for himself.

Though the justice system should work diligently to eliminate biases, many self-proclaimed non-racists slip through the cracks, still clutching their subconscious predisposition about black people.

It is not news that our society and our justice system are racially skewed. Though it may not always be an outright proclamation of hate, actions speak louder than words. Our current justice system operates with thinly veiled micro-aggressions that let white people walk away scot-free with the blood of black men on their hands.

With the Marshall Project study, we now have cold, hard facts to put pressure on America to make a change.

Isn't it about time?

(source: Op-Ed; Attorney Benjamin Crump is a civil rights advocate who has represented the family of Trayvon Martin----USA Today)

EGYPT:

Egypt court sentences 7 IS affiliates to death

An Egyptian court on Saturday has sentenced 7 members of the Islamic State (IS) to death over charges of murder and violence, official news agency MENA reported.

The defendants were accused of joining IS military training camps in Libya and Syria and the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians working in Libya.

The crime of slaughtering the Egyptian workers was filmed by the group and released in February 2015.

Explosive devices as well as CDs featuring military training of IS militants were seized in their possession.

The court has referred the case to Grand Mufti, the country's highest Islamic official who will give the religious judgment of all preliminary death sentences.

The Mufti's opinion is non-binding as it is usually considered a formality, but his final opinion could reduce the penalty.

The court will give its final sentence against another 13 accused with the same charges in Nov. 25.

Egypt has been battling a wave of terrorist attacks, centered mostly in North Sinai since the army-led ouster of the Islamic leader Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The Islamists said the attacks that targeted security men and Coptics were in revenge of the crackdown against Morsi's supporters and the Christians loyalty to the army.

(source: xinhuanet.com)

PAKISTAN:

Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for sending Islam-insulting poem via WhatsApp

A Pakistani Christian has been handed a death sentence for allegedly sending a poem insulting Islam, in particular Prophet Mohammed, to a Muslim friend via WhatsApp. The friend reported him to police, annoyed by the Christian man's affair with a Muslim girl, the defendant's lawyer said.

"[Nadeem] James was handed a death sentence by the court Thursday on blasphemy charges," James' defence lawyer Anjum Wakeel told AFP Friday. Wakeel said James will "appeal the sentence in the high court as he has been framed by his friend [Yasir Bashir] who was annoyed over James' affair with a Muslim girl."

James was held inside the prison for safety reasons as local Muslim clerics repeatedly threatened his family, the lawyer added.

The story of James from the town of Sarai Alamgir in Punjab province hit the headlines in summer 2016.

James, 28, is "illiterate and works as a tailor", according to the Rescue Christians charity group which fights persecution of Christians.

The group said Pakistani police also "intimidated" James's family and arrested his sisters-in-law. "They were threatened with prosecution if they did not give up their brother," the group said, adding that the women were later released.

In July 2016, James shared the details of the incident to the Rescue Christians group.

"... One of my friends sent me a WhatsApp message. I forwarded it to the Muslim friends as I was not educated and unaware of the contents written in the messages. [Now] they are after me to kill me as they believe that I have committed blasphemy against their prophet," he stated.

The victim is believed to have been taken to Lahore for treatment.

The man continued, saying his Muslim friends "wanted to kill him" and sent a complaint to police who later raided his home and eventually arrested him.

"Nadeem is uneducated and could not have possibly sent that text message. I'm certain that Yasir Bashir downloaded the supposedly blasphemous text onto Nadeem's phone and then forwarded it to his cell number to build a case against my brother," the man's sibling Shahbaz James, told the Morning Star News, an independent news service focusing on persecution of Christians.

The charge of blasphemy can carry heavy sentences in Pakistan. According to Amnesty International, "Pakistan's blasphemy laws are often used against religious minorities."

A 2016 Amnesty report "shows how once a person is accused, they become ensnared in a system that offers them few protections, presumes them guilty, and fails to safeguard them against people willing to use violence."

(source: rt.com)

****************************

HR Ministry to prepare proposal for seeking presidential pardon for most deserving prisoners

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Friday directed Ministry of Human Rights to prepare proposal for seeking presidential pardon on humanitarian grounds of highly deserving cases, as per law.

He directed this in a consultative meeting chaired by him in the Ministry of Law & Justice to consider possible legislative reforms in criminal justice system of Pakistan. The meeting was attended by senior representatives of Ministry of Interior, Human Rights, Foreign Affairs, Narcotics Control Division, and Law & Justice, said a press release here on Friday.

The SAPM stated that another proposal should be prepared for the prisoners involved in minor offences to engage them in community services for their social reintegration instead of keeping them in Jails. Keeping in view, Pakistan's international commitments and concluding observations on Pakistan's obligatory reports, Ministry of Human Rights was directed to conduct thorough review of laws pertaining to human rights including offences related to death penalty.

The concerns of international community regarding disabled prisoners who were on death row were also discussed. Ministry of Human Rights Secretary Ms Rabiya Javeri Agha proposed to review imposition of death penalty in drug crimes.

Besides, situation with regard to prisoners particularly women, children, mentally-ill and physically challenged persons was discussed with a view to protect their rights as guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan. It was agreed that the detail analysis of each category of the prisoners along with relevant crimes will be undertaken to comprehensively address the issue.

The meeting noted that in case of any report of death penalty imposed on such categories of prisoners, the matter would be dealt on humanitarian ground and presidential pardon under Article 45 of the Constitution would be recommended subject to certification of the cases by the provincial government.

Furthermore, the issue of persons who were juvenile at the time of offence before promulgation of Juvenile Justice Ordinance, 2000 and had been awarded death penalty under the then prevailing law was also discussed.

ĎThe Ministry of Human Rights was of the view that as per Presidential Order 2001, provides commutation of death penalties awarded to juveniles into life imprisonment, so if there exists any such juvenile who was awarded death penalty before 2000 should also get benefit from such reliefí. Ministry of Human Rights was directed to review relevant laws of such offences and prepare proposals for further legislative review, if so required.

(source: Pakistan Today)

INDIA:

Mangaluru: After 3 death sentences, Cyanide Mohan awarded life imprisonment

The 6th additional district court awarded life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 26,000 to Cyanide Mohan in the rape and murder of a young woman in Puttur taluk.

Holding Mohan guilty of murder, rape, looting jewelry and destruction of evidence, Judge DP Putturangaswamy sentenced Mohan to life imprisonment which gave justice to the family of the woman after 8 long years.

It may be recalled, on September 17, 2009, Mohan had taken the woman to Puttur Market with gold jewelery and then brought her to Madikeri and had sexual contact. Later, he had killed her by offering Cyanide at Madikeri bus stop. He then escaped with her gold jewelry. Mohan had befriended the young woman and promised to marry her. The police investigated 44 witnesses and produced 60 documents regarding the case.

Public prosecutor Judith Olga Margaret said that the case was 4th and requested Mohan to be sentenced to death. However, the court sentenced life imprisonment to Mohan.

Mohan has been accused of murdering 20 women by offering cyanide. Death penalty has been imposed to him by Mangaluru court in 3 cases. Of the 20 cases, Mohan has been convicted in 4 now, 5 cases are in the final stages of trial and about 9 cases are being heard.

(source: daijiworld.com)

BAHAMAS:

Restore The Death Penalty

EDITOR, The Tribune.

The recent murder of an 8-month-old infant has horrified and incensed many of us. But I wonder if we as a nation are sufficiently horrified and incensed to ensure that all convicted murderers receive the just and fitting punishment for their crime, which is swift execution by the state.

From the looks of things, it does not appear so. Therefore, the carnage will continue because we continue to send the message to murderers that they can take the life of others and the state will spare theirs.

Recently, while speaking about our nation's excessively high crime rate, the Minister of National Security, the Hon Marvin Dames, said, "We are proponents of the death penalty, our leader talked about it during the campaign trail and we have not changed our position on that. We will do what we promised we will do." I pray that those words will be put into action very soon, but I wonder what else needs to happen before they are.

I'm eagerly waiting to see if, when, and how Prime Minister Minnis and his government will seek to enforce the death penalty. And if they do anything short of giving Bahamian voters the opportunity to amend the constitution in such a way to ensure that convicted murderers are swiftly executed by the state, I and others will know they are not serious and are merely engaging in BTNA (ie, big talk, no action).

The reality is that as long as we have a so-called system of justice where people can take a person's life and then be rewarded by having theirs spared (by being sentenced to prison), we will continue to match and break our record rates of murder, year after year.

Yes, even when convicted murderers are given a sentence of life in prison, it is more like a reward, because the just and proper sentence for murder is death. And what is worse is that some convicted murderers are given less than life sentences.

No doubt, some will chide me for calling for capital punishment. But the reality is that even though it has been more than seventeen years since the Bahamian state has executed a convicted murderer, we still have capital punishment. It's just not in the state's hands; it's in private hands. And we will continue to have an ever-increasing murder rate and the continuation of privatised capital punishment if the government refuses to do its job and carry out state-sanctioned capital punishment.

To be clear, I do not support the death penalty as a reaction to our high rate of murder (even though I firmly believe that swift and consistent execution of convicted murderers will reduce our high rate of murder). I support the death penalty because it is the only just and fitting punishment for the crime of murder.

PASTOR CEDRIC MOSS

Nassau (source: Letter to the Editor, The Tribune)

SEPTEMBER 15, 2017:

PENNSYLVANIA:

Attorney argues for colleague to be replaced in death penalty case

Attorney Noah Geary's assertion he shouldn't be forced to work on a death penalty case with another attorney with family ties to a separate case in which Geary is involved sparked a contentious back and forth with a Washington County judge Thursday.

Geary said his work defending Brandon Wolowski would be affected with Jeremy Davis as his co-counsel. Geary is pursuing a federal lawsuit on behalf of David Munchinski, a former state inmate who was convicted on evidence that later was discredited during Gerald Solomon's tenure as Fayette County district attorney. Solomon is Davis' cousin.

Geary wrote in court papers supporting his motion for a reconsideration of Davis' appointment that Wolowski "is literally on trial for his life. He is entitled to 2 lawyers working together on his case, one of whom who has not sued the other's relative in a highly personal and contentious case."

DiSalle disagreed Davis' appointment presented a conflict.

'How is that a conflict for Brandon Wolowski, that you sued somebody else?" DiSalle asked.

DiSalle took Geary's request under advisement, pending additional information from Geary. Geary sought the appointment of attorney Thomas Farrell, who Geary said agreed to represent Wolowski with him.

Davis said following the hearing only that he disagreed with Geary, "but I'm leaving it to the court's discretion."

DiSalle appointed Davis last month as co-counsel for Wolowski, 23, of Washington, who faces charges including homicide and attempted homicide in connection with shootings Jan. 8, 2013, at a home in the city.

Geary also represents Munchinski in a federal lawsuit contending Solomon - now a Fayette County senior judge - and other law enforcment officials withheld exculpatory evidence from Munchinski, who was convicted in 1986 on charges he and an accomplice murdered 2 men in Bear Rocks 9 years earlier. Munchinski was released in 2011 after his conviction was vacated by the federal district court in Pittsburgh.

Charges against him were later dismissed.

Geary, who also represented Munchinski on appeal, said in his motion he "alleged and proven Mr. Davis' cousin, Solomon, unlawfully hid blatantly exculpatory evidence from Munchinski 4 times throughout four different legal proceedings over the span of 20 years."

He argued Davis' appointment in Wolowski's case would "materially limit" his work on behalf of Woloski. He said he didn't want Davis in his office across from the courthouse, the logical place for them to meet, because he keeps files and notes related to Munchinski's case there.

Munchinski and Wolowski weren't at the hearing, but also objected in writing to Davis' appointment.

DiSalle offered other places where the attorneys could meet, including the local bar association.

He also maintained he couldn't see how Davis entering Geary's office presented a problem for either case and accused Geary of "spending more time on your problems with the Solomon family" than defending Wolowski.

DiSalle and Geary disagreed about the substance of a discussion concerning Davis' apointment during a recent status conference.

The judge recalled Geary saying he could work with Davis. Geary countered he said he's generally easygoing and "can work with anybody" but also said on that occasion that he and Davis have a conflict of interest.

Geary said he contacted Farrell, who has the necessary qualifications to handle the death-penalty case, immediately after the status conference and then notified the court Farrell had agreed to work with him. The Washington County district attorney's office didn't object to Farrell's appointment.

Wolowski faces trial in connection with shootings at a home in the 900 block of Fayette Street. Matthew Mathias, 37, died of a gunshot wound to the chest that perforated his left lung. His girlfriend, Michelle Powell, 38, was shot in the cheek, chin, chest and arm but survived after undergoing surgery.

Before she was flown by helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital, Powell reportedly gave a statement to police that pointed to Wolowski as the perpetrator, and he was taken into custody shortly thereafter. Guns were the objective of the robbery, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing.

(source: Observer-Reporter)

SOUTH CAROLINA:

Judge: Case against Conway bank robbery suspect makes him eligible for death penalty

The man accused of murdering 2 employees during a Conway bank robbery last month appeared before a federal judge in Florence on Thursday for the 1st time.

Brandon Council, 32, of Wilson, North Carolina, was in the courtroom for roughly 5 minutes and waived his extradition hearing in N.C.

Additionally, the defendant waived his right to a preliminary hearing, according to court documents filed on Thursday.

Magistrate Judge Thomas Rogers made it clear to Council that this case makes him eligible to face the death penalty.

The prosecution was then asked if they planned to seek the death penalty. That decision, they told the judge, has not been decided yet.

During the brief hearing, family members of the 2 victims occupied 2 1/2 rows in the courtroom. They were seen holding hands and crying.

Scott Hixson, the chief deputy solicitor for the 15th Circuit Solicitor's Office and special assistant to the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Thursday's hearing was "very procedural"

"The federal government has to go through a process and I wouldn't make any more comment at this stage other than that, that everything is on track, if that makes sense," Hixson said. "I think the comments to the court were appropriate about this is where we are. I hate to sound vague, but we'll keep moving forward."

When asked about the possibility of seeking the death penalty for Council, Hixson said that decision would be made at the appropriate time.

"This stage of it, he is under a federal complaint," Hixson said. "The next step is federal indictment and then the case will be moving forward in the federal system, just as there are signed warrants on him on the state system that we expect to be served on him, and that will initiate the state prosecution that will be concurrent with the federal prosecution."

Council faces 2 counts of murder in connection with the Aug. 21 CresCom Bank robbery, as well as one count each of entering a bank with the intent to steal, grand larceny, armed robbery, possession of weapon during a violent crime and being a felon in possession of a pistol.

Officials with the Horry County Coroner's Office previously identified the 2 employees who were killed during the robbery as Donna Major, 59, of Conway, and Kathryn "Katie" Skeen, 36, of Green Sea.

(source: Aurora Sentinel)

GEORGIA----impending execution

Why I Believe the Supreme Court Needs to Stop This Georgia Execution----Keith Tharpe was convicted and sent to death thanks in part to a racist juror.

If the Supreme Court is serious about reducing the impact of racial prejudice in capital cases - and 2 recent decisions suggest it is - the justices will halt the pending execution of a Georgia man and grant him a new trial. At stake in the case of Keith Tharpe is not the question of his guilt or innocence. At stake is the proposition that no black person should be condemned to death by a white juror who proudly boasts after sentencing that he voted to impose capital punishment because the defendant was a "nigger."

The facts of the case are simple. His prosecutor, a district attorney named Joseph Briley, came to the case with a reputation for using peremptory strikes during jury selection in a racially discriminatory fashion. The federal courts had caught him in prior cases trying illegally to exclude blacks from juries sitting in judgment of black defendants. In Tharpe's case, Briley successfully managed to eliminate 5 of 8 qualified black jurors. No problem, the trial judge declared, there was no evidence of bad faith on the part of the prosecutor.

One of the potential jurors who made it onto Tharpe's panel, a juror embraced by prosecutor Briley, was a man named Barney Gattie, who swore up and down during voir dire that he had no preconceived notions about the case and did not know the victims. It didn't take long for Gattie and his fellow jurors to convict Tharpe and sentence him to death. That would have been that, we never would have heard of this case, except that Gattie had much more to say about Tharpe when he questioned by defense attorneys working on Tharpe's post-conviction appellate review seven years after trial. Here is how Tharpe's current attorneys characterize that conversation:

Mr. Gattie expressed his feelings about the case in general. He stated that there are two kinds of black people in the world - "regular black folks" and "niggers." Mr. Gattie noted that he understood that some people do not like the word "nigger" but that is just what they are, and he "tells it like he sees it." According to Mr. Gattie, if the victim in Mr. Tharpe's case had just been 1 of the niggers, he would not have cared about her death. But as it was, the victim was a woman from what Mr. Gattie considered to be one of the "good black families." He explained that her husband was an EMT. Mr. Gattie stated that that sort of thing really made a difference to him when he was deciding whether to vote for a death sentence.

There is more from Gattie in the record that illustrates he was not faithful to his oath as a juror but the above makes the point. Immediately after Gattie's comments were made available to state lawyers two decades ago, they rushed to the juror's home and got him to sign a counter-affidavit that sought to nullify what he had told Tharp's investigators. That 2nd affidavit, the one in which Gattie swore he wasn't a bigot, has been the basis of the stateís defense for the past 20 years.

Georgia courts have consistently failed or refused to acknowledge the import of Gattie's 1st sworn statement, the one he reviewed and initialed before he realized that one really should not say such things under oath. Instead, state lawyers and state judges have concluded that they need not address the merits of the claim because Tharpe is procedurally barred from making it; that he waited too long to find out that one of his jurors sentenced him to death for being a "nigger," in other words. Georgia also has relied for years on a common rule that precludes judges from considering the post-trial comments of jurors that would "impeach" the reliability of a verdict (a rule, as we'll see below, the Supreme Court just diminished).

Georgia's defense of racism here is indefensible as a matter of law and fact. This surely was true in 1998 when Georgia first started discounting the importance of a racist juror in the capital trial of a black defendant. And it is especially true now, in the past 6 months, ever since the Supreme Court decided Buck v. Davis and Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado. Buck is a Texas case in which a notorious defense expert told jurors in the capital trial of Duane Buck that Buck would be more dangerous in the future because he was black. Texas defended that outrageous prediction for decades, even after state officials acknowledged the racist damage such testimony had caused in other trials infected by that same expert. This Spring, a majority of the justices finally put a stop to the nonsense, sweeping away the hoary procedural objections state officials had put up to deny Buck the right to a trial free from racial prejudice. Tharpe hopes for a rescue from the justices as they acknowledge the Sixth Amendment means little if a juror like this can infect a capital case.

The Pena-Rodriguez case is even more apt as precedent in the Tharpe case. In Pena-Rodriguez, a juror made a series of racist statements about the defendant, an Hispanic man. No reasonable person reading those statements would believe that the defendant had gotten a trial free from unconstitutional bias or prejudice. But for years Colorado defended the conviction in the case by arguing that jurors could not subsequently be "impeached" for their misconduct during deliberations. Nonsense, the justices in Washington announced this spring; in cases of obvious racial prejudice the "no-impeachment rule had to give way to the more substantive Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

Now comes Georgia, which is defending the comments of a racist juror by arguing that Buck and Pena-Rodriguez don't apply to the case, or at least don't apply directly enough to spare Tharpe's life and give him a new trial where one of his jurors doesn't gleefully consider him a "nigger." Georgia, in fact, is relying on the same jury impeachment rule that Colorado unsuccessfully relied on in Pena-Rodriguez. Tharpe surely hopes the result for him will be the same - a rescue from the justices as they acknowledge the Sixth Amendment means little if a juror like this can infect a capital case.

As it now stands, Tharpe will die by the state's hand at 7:00 p.m. September 26. A district court has rejected Thorpe's latest motion and an appeal is pending before the Eleventh Circuit. What has happened so far to Tharpe in Georgia is another classic example of the hollowness of the law, where judges hide behind procedural, post-conviction rules to justify convictions that are, like this one, hard to justify as a matter of common sense. What should happen now is obvious. Gattie is dead and cannot testify in his own defense. Keith Tharpe may be guilty of murder. In the end, he may even deserve the death penalty. But a conviction and death sentence based in part on the bigotry displayed in his case cannot be countenanced if the constitutional right to a fair trial, and the right to equal protection and due process of law, mean anything.

(source: Andrew Cohen, esquire.com)

FLORIDA:

Death sentence tossed out in 2012 Jacksonville murder----Man who stabbed, strangled woman in 2012 to get new sentence

Pointing to the lack of a unanimous jury recommendation, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a new sentencing hearing for a death row inmate convicted in the 2012 stabbing and strangulation death of a Jacksonville woman.

Justices upheld the 1st-degree murder conviction of Dennis Glover in the slaying of a neighbor, Sandra Allen, but vacated his death sentence.

The ruling, like numerous others in recent months, was rooted in a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Hurst v. Florida and a subsequent Florida Supreme Court decision.

The 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found Florida's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries.

The subsequent Florida Supreme Court ruling said juries must unanimously agree on critical findings before judges can impose death sentences and must unanimously recommend the death penalty.

In Glover's case, the jury recommended the death penalty in a 10-2 vote.

"(Because) we cannot say that there is no reasonable possibility the Hurst error contributed to the sentence, the error in Glover's sentencing is not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt," the court majority said in Thursday's opinion.

(source: news4jax.com)

OHIO:

Authorities plan to seek death penalty for man accused of shooting spree

A man accused of fatally shooting 2 people and beating two others in a July 4 crime spree across southern Ohio is headed to prison for one of the killings, but now the Ross County prosecutor said he intends to seek the death penalty for the other.

Jeffrey Holsinger, 31, pleaded guilty in Highland County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday to charges of murder and aggravated robbery for killing 35-year-old Steven Mottie, Jr. and beating and robbing Steven Mottie Sr., 58, in a home they all shared near Greenfield in Highland County.

Highland County Judge Rocky A. Coss immediately sentenced Holsinger to a mandatory 15 years to life in prison on the murder charge and seven years for the aggravated robbery. He tacked on another nearly 4 years from a prior sentence that Holsinger had been on parole for when he committed these crimes.

Prosecutor Matt Schmidt in neighboring Ross County said his case against Holsinger qualifies for a death-penalty specification and he will seek it. He said he was in no rush to charge Holsinger while the Highland County case played out because Holsinger was in custody.

It all started on July 4 when Holsinger fought with the Motties. Collins said there were conflicting stories as to whether it was over a woman or a cellphone.

After the killing, Holsinger asked a neighbor, 23-year-old Jesse Lytle, to give him a ride. Schmidt said Holsinger told Lytle that he had a pistol and they would go somewhere to practice shooting. But when the men arrived at a hunting preserve in Ross County, Holsinger shot Lytle multiple times and stole his car. Lytle ran to the road and flagged down help. He survived.

Later that night, Schmidt said, Holsinger randomly chose a home on Browns Chapel Road in Ross County because he saw a Cadillac parked there that he liked. He shot and killed the car's owner, 79-year-old Paul Robertson, and beat Robertson's girlfriend, 67-year-old Dawn Wilson, and briefly took her hostage. She also ran to get help. She survived.

Holsinger then stole the Cadillac and led authorities on a pursuit through multiple counties that reached speeds of up to 100 mph. He was captured just after 10 p.m. hiding behind a shed on the Far West Side of Columbus.

Schmidt said he will take the case to a grand jury in the next month or 2.

(source: Columbus Dispatch)

MISSOURI:

Judge denies request by Craig Wood's lawyers to dismiss death penalty

The death penalty will remain an option for the man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing Hailey Owens near her home in February of 2014.

Craig Wood attorneys and the family of Hailey Owens had asked the judge to remove the death penalty as an option if Wood is convicted. His attorneys argued the death penalty is unconstitutional. A Greene County judge disagreed.

Wood's trial is set to begin October 23rd and e will be in court Friday for a pre-trial hearing.

(source: ky3.com)

ARKANSAS:

Racial Bias Has No Place In The Arkansas Criminal Justice System----Regardless of how one might feel about the death penalty, no one should be more or less culpable because of the color of their skin.

I am the executive director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. From my childhood in the Arkansas Delta, to higher education in Walmart-dominated Northwest Arkansas, to New York and Los Angeles as a model and television personality, and finally to Little Rock, Arkansas, where I attended law school and currently live and work.

Justice in the Arkansas Delta is different from justice in Fayetteville. Racial disparity is part of the culture in Arkansas. See Little Rock Central High School. See the Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King Jr. joint holidays. And the racial disparity in the Arkansas criminal justice system is one of the most alarming manifestations of this inequitable treatment.

In Arkansas, African-Americans make up roughly 17 % of the population, but African-Americans account for a whopping 42.2 % of the prison population. Disparities in capital punishment are more staggering. Arkansas has completed 200 executions since 1913, and 70 % (140 individuals) of those executed were African-American. Currently, African-Americans and Latinos make up 50 % of Arkansas' death row.

A recent study by the University of Arkansas at Little Rockís William H. Bowen Law School shows that for the charge of capital murder, African Americans are over 2 times more likely to receive the death penalty than their white counterparts. The study shows that whites charged with capital murder are more likely to receive the more lenient sentence of life without the possibility of parole. When it comes to life and death in the Arkansas criminal justice system, race matters.

When it comes to life and death in the Arkansas criminal justice system, race matters.

While some attribute this obvious disparity in treatment to overt racism, "Racial Disparities in the Arkansas Criminal Justice System Steering Committee" points to a less-talked-about culprit: implicit racial bias. Implicit racial bias is something all of us have. We all hold implicit racial biases, and unlike explicit racism, these implicit biases are activated without our awareness or intentional control. These implicit biases are shaped by: the environments we are raised in, media, and even our circles of influence. Implicit biases can help shape decisions about who we date or socialize with, where we chose to live and how we perceive the actions of others.

The 1st step to eliminating these biases from our criminal justice system is to identify that we have them. Harvard University has developed an implicit association test that helps to identify which implicit biases one holds. "Racial Disparities in the Arkansas Criminal Justice System Steering Committee" recommends that all players in the criminal justice system (prosecutors, judges, police officers, etc.) take the implicit association test and undergo implicit bias training to learn how to deal with personal biases. The steering committee also recommends juries be trained on implicit bias and given jury instructions on how to deal with implicit bias.

Regardless of how one might feel about the death penalty, no one should be more or less culpable because of the color of their skin. It is time for Arkansas to place a moratorium on the death penalty until we can ensure racial bias has no place in our system of capital punishment or our criminal justice system as a whole.

(source: Furonda Brasfield Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Executive Director----Huffington Post)

OKLAHOMA:

Jury Selection Continues For Moore Beheading Case

After several days of jury selection, opening statements are expected to begin Thursday in the trial against a man accused of beheading a former coworker nearly 3 years ago in Moore.

During pretrial proceedings, murder suspect Alton Nolen has become well-known for his outbursts but more recently for his inattentiveness.

News 9's crew in the courtroom noted he spent much of his time before the judge with eyes closed and hands covering his ears.

The district attorney told News 9 he will be seeking the death penalty, so picking the jury involves some very heavy questions.

The jurors were asked if they could consider all 3 punishment options of death, life with the possibility of parole and life without the possibility of parole. Anyone who was firm one way or another was dismissed.

Nolen previously admitted in court that he beheaded his coworker Colleen Hufford and injured another coworker in September 2014.

The state has asked for the death penalty and Nolen has told the judge he wants to die

A judge denied Nolen's request after he failed to comply during a competency hearing.

(source: news9.com)

COLORADO:

3 men still on Colorado's death row after judge denies capital appeal----18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler's office is the subject of prosecutorial misconduct allegations.

A judge today denied a 5-year appeal by Sir Mario Owens, a man convicted for the 2005 witness killing of a state lawmaker's son and his fiancee.

Today's order leaves Owens, 32, on death row along with 2 other men: his co-defendant, Robert Ray, and Nathan Dunlap, the convicted Chuck E. Cheese's shooter to whom Gov. John Hickenlooper granted a temporary reprieve in 2013.

Owens, 32, appealed his conviction and sentence largely on a long list of claims that prosecutors - who paid informant witnesses to testify against him - failed to turn over to the defense team key evidence that, if heard at trial, his lawyers argued may have changed the jury's verdict. The appeal accused the DA's office of "cumulative error" and "outrageous governmental conduct" in the case.

In today's order denying Owens' appeal, District Judge Christopher Munch wrote, "The court concludes that Owens received a fair trial - one whose result is reliable. He also received a fair sentencing hearing - one whose result was constitutionally obtained, justified in law, and is rationally based upon the evidence."

As of this posting, The Independent is awaiting comments from 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler and from state Sen. Rhonda Fields, whose son, Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe, were fatally gunned down soon before Marshall-Fields was expected to testify against Robert Ray in the investigation of another murder a year earlier.

Owens' lead defense attorney, Jim Castle, disagrees with the court's conclusion that none of the misconduct claims made in the case matter and that they "can be tolerated in Colorado in any case, never mind a capital one."

"This is a sad day for Owens, his family and the Colorado criminal justice system," he said.

The case was prosecuted for 6 years under former 18th Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers. Brauchler, her elected successor, has led the office for the last 5 years as it has continued rallying to preserve Owens' and other death sentences against a long list of appeals claims. Brauchler, a Republican who has made a name for himself as a death penalty prosecutor, is running for governor.

There is no definitive physical evidence, no confession, and no eyewitnesses who identified Owens in a case prosecutors built almost entirely on the testimony of informant witnesses to whom the DA's office gave plea bargains, funds, or both in return for their cooperation against Owens.

Among the charges upon which the appeal was based is the office's failure to disclose thousands of dollars in payments it made to informant witnesses. One of those witnesses was promised and later given a district attorney's office car. Some were given gift cards for local businesses. One received $3,400 in benefits, including cash for Christmas presents in the months prior to testifying on behalf of the prosecution.

The defense cited the prosecution's failure to disclose other incentives given to witnesses in exchange for their testimony. If he didn't cooperate, court records show, 1 of the main witnesses was threatened with being charged for the murders Owens was accused of and with receiving 2 life sentences. Another witness, according to the records, received a suspension of his jail sentence on the condition that he help prosecutors in Owens' case. People working for the prosecution would appear at informant witnesses' court hearings and ask for lesser sentences on the condition that they testify against Owens, the records indicate. Records also show that informants who had been convicted of crimes were allowed to violate probation and commit future crimes without consequences as long as they cooperated.

The appeal argued that by failing to disclose these deals before trial, the prosecution rendered Owens' defense lawyers unable to cast doubt on those witnesses' testimonies and put their credibility in dispute. In doing so, the argument goes, Owens was denied a fair trial.

The rules of criminal conduct say that withholding evidence that could have swayed a jury against a guilty verdict amounts to prosecutorial misconduct. Under Colorado's death penalty law, it's one of several reasons to disqualify a case for death penalty eligibility.

Brauchler's office didn't dispute that it withheld much of the evidence Owens' lawyers listed in their appeal. Nor did the judge. Instead, both asserted that the evidence that was withheld wouldn't have changed jurors' guilty verdict or death penalty decision.

Owens' lawyers long have countered that the ends don't justify the means. Prosecutors' hands need to be clean, the say, especially when a life is at stake.

The case has made headlines because of a string of court orders shrouding much of the documentation and evidence in secrecy. The court file remained sealed and all parties gagged from speaking about it until 2013, 7 years after it was filed. Exhibits in the case remain sealed to this day, fueling continued concerns about a lack of transparency.

Most of the claims in Owens' appeal applied to decisions made before Brauchler won office in 2012 when Chambers was being term-limited out. Brauchler decided to keep the same lead prosecutors on the case, and, under his watch, the office continued a pattern of not disclosing evidence. In February 2015, more than 2 years after he took over, one of his prosecutors disclosed that there was a set of secret "witness protection files" that, even at that point, hadn't been given to the defense. The judge at that time, Gerald Rafferty, ordered the DAs to turn over hundreds of pages of documents, which revealed even more payments the prosecutors Brauchler kept on the case made to prosecution witnesses.

In court last year, Brauchler's team strained to justify having knowingly sat on the secret evidence by saying they were trying to protect witnesses.

"Well, I will make the record that this is in regards to witness protection and the witness protection statute and more is not better under the witness protection statute, in fact, it's confidential and -," argued 1 of Brauchler's prosecutors, David Jones, before Judge Rafferty interrupted him.

"I would strongly disagree with that, Mr. Jones, strongly disagree in a capital case," the judge said. "You can expect that in my order, sir. Let's move on."

Jones since has left the DA's office but Brauchler continues keeping the 2 lawyers who handled the case when the materials were kept hidden as the lead prosecutors.

After reading an earlier version of this story this morning, Brauchler texted to say, "It's not my office being accused. It's (t)he DA's office prior to me being DA." The Independent responded by writing, "The claims include the 'secret witness files' revealed last year, George. ... They were revealed 3 years after you took office. And your folks seemed to have known they hadn't been turned over."

To that, Brauchler responded this morning: "Good grief. I now own everything that happened or didn't happen under my predecessor?"

In one of the Owens cases's oddest twists, Judge Rafferty - who presided for 11 years over both the trial and appeal - was preparing to issue his ruling when he was fired last year for what Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice called a breach of contract on a personnel matter. Her office made the unusual move of sending out a news release about Rafferty's removal. Rafferty argued that he did not breach his contract and emails provided by the state back up his assertion.

For years, Rafferty had shown an interest in what he once ruled was prosecutors' "deliberate choice" not to disclose evidence favorable to Owens. He granted 37 weeks of hearings on most of the claims the defense made in its appeal. He held hearings on evidence exhibits and heard dozens of witnesses testify over 2 1/2 years. He reviewed the 22,700-page court file, the 28,288-page trial transcript and the 27,836-page post-conviction record, plus 1,889 exhibits from trial and 880 exhibits from the appeals phase. And he spent 11 months working on his written decision.

The timing and manner of Rafferty's abrupt removal raised questions in Colorado's criminal defense and civil rights communities about whether state officials used the contract dispute as a pretense to fire the judge in order to keep the Owens case from being retried.

Defense efforts to uncover what led to Rafferty's ouster have been rebuffed by the judicial branch and by Judge Munch, who was appointed to take over the case. Munch handed down his order today without having seen or heard from a single witness about errors in the capital proceedings.

As she waiting this morning to hear if Owens' death sentence will hold, Sen. Fields said that she has never seen any wrongdoing by either the prosecution or defense: "I saw both sides working very diligently to seek justice on behalf of my son and his fiancee."

Owens lives in solitary confinement at Colorado State Penitentiary, the supermax in Canon City. He learned of his defeat today from the lawyers who've been appealing his death sentence for more than 9 years. They wanted to break the news to him in person.

Many of the issues around which Owens' appeal pivot also are at the root of an ongoing appeal by Ray, his co-defendant. Unlike Munch, the judge in Ray's appeal has conducted evidentiary hearings into his claims, the majority of which complain of the same errors listed by Owens' lawyers.

In a previous capital prosecution of 2 defendants in another murder case, there were similar claims of misconduct by the 18th Judicial District Attorney's office, including the suppression of key evidence. Armed with that previously hidden evidence, 1 of those defendants, Alejandro Perez, was quickly acquitted by a jury. The judge presiding over the case against Perez's codefendant, David Bueno, vacated his murder conviction. That ruling is now on appeal by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Earlier this summer, Jack Roth, one of state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman's top lawyers on death penalty cases, lost his job after having made public comments that overstepped his authority to seek death in a Crowley County murder prosecution.

The similarities between Coloradoís three death row inmates are striking. In a state with a 4 % African-American population, each is black. Each grew up poor. Each attended the same school, Overland High in Aurora. And each was prosecuted in the 18th Judicial District, which has pursued death in far more cases than any other district in Colorado. Under Chambers' control, the office handed out Christmas bonuses to prosecutors who took on capital cases - a practice Owens' lawyers have claimed amounted to an improper bounty system.

Several groups, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, have taken issue with how the death penalty is sought in the state. They've cited a study showing strong biases against ethnic minorities. Nationally, groups working to abolish the death penalty and end wrongful convictions are starting to focus on the kinds of prosecutorial misconduct claimed in Owens' appeal.

Gov. Hickenlooper won office in 2010 as a professed death penalty proponent. When announcing in 2013 that Dunlap wouldn't die under his watch, he said he was reconsidering his position. The governor cited racial disparities explicitly and alluded more subtly to prosecutorial integrity in expressing concerns that current death penalty practices could undermine trust in state institutions. Hickenlooper gave Dunlap a reprieve while indicating that if the state were to carry out executions, it should do so when the system operates flawlessly. Hickenlooper called for a "statewide discussion" about Coloradoís death penalty practices, given concerns about how the death penalty is meted out in the state.

4 years later, that conversation has not taken place even - as the Owens case shows - questions keep surfacing about capital prosecutions. The governor's office hasn't said why the policy discussion hasn't started. Colorado's moderate Democratic governor is eyeing a presidential bid in 2020 after he's term-limited out of office.

Brauchler, in the meantime, is one of several Republicans who've launched campaigns to fill Hickenlooper's seat in the 2018 gubernatorial election. The DA built his public profile personally prosecuting Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, against whom he won a conviction but not the death sentence he sought. Brauchler has gone on to become the state's loudest death penalty proponent.

(source: coloradoindependent.com)

***********************

Judge denies major appeal in Sir Mario Owens death penalty case----Owens convicted of killing Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe

Sir Mario Owens sits, Monday March. 13, 2006, in Arapahoe County Court during the 1st hearing after being indicted in the June 20 double homicide that killed a witness and his girlfriend.

In a massive and long-awaited order, an Arapahoe County District Court judge has denied the death penalty appeal of Sir Mario Owens - even though he found that prosecutors withheld some evidence that could have been favorable to Owens' side.

Senior Judge Christopher Munch ruled on Thursday that Owens, who was convicted of killing 3 people in 2 separate incidents, ultimately received a fair trial and was represented well enough by his attorneys. The ruling took nearly a decade to reach, and it means that Owens' death sentence now likely moves to the next step of the appeals process. It could still be years more before Owens' state and federal appeals are exhausted and a possible execution is scheduled.

"The court concludes that Owens received a fair trial - one whose result is reliable," Munch wrote on the last of his order's 1,343 pages. "He also received a fair sentencing hearing - one whose result was constitutionally obtained, justified in law, and is rationally based upon the evidence."

Owens was first convicted of murder in 2007, in connection with the 2004 shooting death of 20-year-old Gregory Vann at a party in Aurora's Lowry Park. The following year, in 2008, a different jury convicted Owens in the 2005 killings of Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe, both 22. He was sentenced to death.

At the time of his murder, Marshall-Fields had been scheduled to testify against another suspect in Vann's death, and prosecutors argued that Marshall-Fields and Wolfe, his fiancee, were killed to silence them. That other suspect, Robert Ray, was also convicted of killing Marshall-Fields and Wolfe and was also sentenced to death. As with Owens, his appeals are still pending.

Defense attorneys raised numerous concerns about Owens' convictions, including an allegation of juror misconduct during the Lowry Park trial that Munch denied earlier this year. Munch ruled in his Thursday order, though, that prosecutors improperly withheld evidence during the case - by not disclosing numerous instances in which they provided witnesses money or other benefits.

For instance, prosecutors did not tell Owens' attorneys that they had promised and later given a car to 1 key witness. Other witnesses received undisclosed lenience in separate criminal cases facing them. In at least 1 instance, prosecutors did not reveal that a witness had been present at another shooting while in the witness protection program and preparing to testify in Owens' case. Prosecutors also withheld information about money that witnesses were paid as informants or in the witness protection program.

Defense attorneys said the evidence could have been used at trial to question the credibility of the witnesses. But, in each instance, Munch concluded that the evidence wasn't significant enough to overturn the trial. At best, Munch said, the evidence would have been considered "helpful" but not outcome-changing.

"He must establish more than helpfulness to sustain a claim of constitutional error," Munch wrote.

Chief Deputy District Attorney John Hower, one of the prosecutors on the case, said some of the evidence was not disclosed due to oversight. In other instances, Hower said prosecutors believed it wasn't the kind of information that was required to be shared. There was no deliberate attempt to hide evidence, Hower said.

"We certainly are very pleased with his ruling," Hower said of Munch's order. "It is clear he gave great consideration to all the evidence and the claims presented, and we believe he came up with the correct ruling."

In a written statement, Jonathan Reppucci, one of Owens' appellate attorneys, said: "We disagree with the court's conclusion that none of this matters and can be tolerated in Colorado in any case, never mind a capital one. This is a sad day for Mr. Owens, his family and the Colorado criminal justice system."

Defense attorneys have 7 days to decide whether to appeal Munch's order. The next step would be directly to the Colorado Supreme Court, a relatively faster track created by a state law designed to speed up death penalty appeals. Owens' case would be the 1st test of the new track at the state's highest court. Defense attorneys and prosecutors would have to file their respective briefs in the appeal by next summer.

"This is new ground," said Ann Tomsic, a chief deputy district attorney in Arapahoe County who was a prosecutor on Owens' case.

Timeline in the Sir Mario Owens murder cases

July 4, 2004: Gregory Vann, 20, is shot and killed in Aurora's Lowry Park. Vann's friend Javad Marshall-Fields is wounded in the shooting.

July 13, 2004: Robert Ray is arrested and charged as an accessory in the Lowry Park shooting. He later posts bond.

June 19, 2005: Marshall-Fields is threatened and warned not to testify against Ray.

June 20, 2005: Marshall-Fields, 22, and his fiancee, 22-year-old Vivian Wolfe, are shot to death while driving on Dayton Street in Aurora. An intensive police investigation follows.

Aug. 12, 2005: Ray's charges in Vann's killing are upgraded to 1st-degree murder.

Sept. 29, 2005: An arrest warrant is issued for Sir Mario Owens on charges of 1st-degree murder in connection with Vann's killing.

March 8, 2006: A grand jury indicts Ray and Owens on charges of 1st-degree murder in Marshall-Fields' and Wolfe's killings.

Nov. 3, 2006: A jury finds Ray guilty of attempted murder and of being an accessory to murder in the Lowry Park shooting. It does not find him guilty of 1st-degree murder.

Jan 30, 2007: A separate jury convicts Owens of 1st-degree murder in Vann's killing.

June 16, 2008: Owens is convicted of 1st-degree murder in Marshall-Fields' and Wolfe's killings. He is sentenced to death. Prosecutors used Owens' conviction in the Lowry Park shooting as evidence in arguing for the death penalty.

June 8, 2009: Ray is convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to death for Marshall-Fields' and Wolfe's killings.

July 30, 2012: New attorneys for Owens file a major appeal, arguing that Owens received an unfair trial because of withheld evidence and mistakes by his attorneys.

April 13, 2016: Judge Gerald Rafferty, who presided over the case from the beginning, is fired. Court administrators say Rafferty violated the conditions of his short-term contract.

Sept. 14, 2017: Judge Christopher Munch, who took over the case after Rafferty, finds that prosecutors withheld some evidence but denies Owens' appeal.

(source: Denver Post)

UTAH:

Child murder is death penalty eligible for Roy man----Matthew Graves given death penalty attorney for defense

Matthew Graves knows he may be spending 25-years in prison. That's what the 22-year old Roy man allegedly told police after he was arrested for killing an infant in his care.

But the Weber County Attorney's Office has different plans, one that could put him to death if there's a conviction.

Graves was charged with aggravated murder which makes the case death penalty eligible.

"What makes it an aggravated murder is the fact that it was a child," said Letitia Toombs, deputy Weber County attorney. "The victim is an infant 41 days old."

Graves was at home with the infant last week when paramedics were called after a 911-call. They were told an infant wasn't breathing. Paramedics revived the child but died later.

At the hospital, doctors told police about the possibility of a murder. In court documents they found the infant had "huge fractures on the right side of the head, massive brain swelling and hemorrhage ... separation of the vertebra in the neck."

"Pretty brutal, but beyond that I'm not going to say anything," said Toombs following a court hearing for Graves Thursday.

Graves was assigned an attorney that specializes in death penalty cases. But attorney Mike Bouwhius told the judge the family is considering a private attorney. He asked for more time to discuss the case with the family.

In court documents, Graves told police he is "a monster that he has lost all hope in life and is going to lose everything." Police said Graves made statements "about spending 25 years in prison" for what happened.

Graves also told police he became angry because the baby wouldn't stop crying and doesn't remember how many times he punched the baby because he blacked out.

He remains in the Weber County jail where he is being held without bail."

(source: ABC news)

NEVADA:

Nevada law says chief medical officer must advise on executions despite ethical clash

Nevada's Chief Medical Officer Dr. John DiMuro's role in helping choose the lethal drugs for an upcoming execution could put him in an ethical quandary as an anesthesiologist committed to preserving life.

Most states use lethal injection in executions and often seek help from anesthesiologists, and Nevada law requires the Department of Corrections to consult with the chief medical officer on an execution.

The American Osteopathic Association, the board that certifies DiMuro, recently released a statement that it is unethical for physicians to deliver the lethal injection.

DiMuro, who resides in Washoe County, would not be administering the lethal injection but is consulting on the combination of drugs to be used in an upcoming execution.

But consulting on the lethal drugs could still present an ethical problem because it means participating in an execution, according to Johan Bester, medical ethicist director of bioethics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine.

Carson City caregiver could face the death penalty in toddler's homicide

"Saying that the Nevada chief medical officer is doing something wrong is difficult to say because this is still a controversial issue," Bester said.

"You can imagine if you're a physician and you think your ethical obligation is to not do this, but you've got a law telling you you have to do it," he said. "You're in a difficult situation."

Asked for comment, DiMuro responded via email: "I can confirm that I am consulting with the NDOC as required by Nevada statute. This consultation process is ongoing and not complete at this time. Our expectation is that any final decision is likely to be reviewed by the court."

It's unknown who will be delivering the lethal injection, but more than one person is usually involved, according to Brooke Keast, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Keast said the state Department of Corrections does not release information on the people involved in the execution because of safety concerns.

(source: Reno Gazette-Journal)

CALIFORNIA:

3 children killed in West Sacramento; father arrested

The West Sacramento elementary school where Kelvin Hodges played tag at recess and his sister Julie embraced her love of singing was a scene of grief and community solidarity Thursday night as hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil in memory of the slain children.

"He was a really good friend. He brightens your day," Katelyn Lisenby, a 6th grader at Southport Elementary School who had known Kelvin since pre-kindergarten, said after adding a candle to a collection of balloons, flowers, stuffed animals and other mementos around the campus' welcome sign.

Though she didn't know Julie as well, Katelyn described both classmates as "extraordinary and fun."

Julie Hodges "was a pretty good singer," said teacher Scott McColl, who taught music to both siblings in recent months. "They were both just wonderful students."

Authorities say Kelvin, Julie and their infant brother Lucas died Wednesday night at the hands of their father, 32-year-old Robert William Hodges, who now faces multiple murder charges that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Hodges is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Yolo Superior Court. Formal charges had not yet been filed as of this morning.

Yolo County coroner's officials say Kelvin Hodges was 11 years old, while Julie was 9 and Lucas just 7 months. Their causes of death have not been released pending the completion of autopsies.

Sgt. Roger Kinney said the crime that stunned neighbors and first responders alike occurred Wednesday night at the Timbers Apartments on Touchstone Place in the city's Southport neighborhood. It began with a 9:20 p.m. report of domestic violence from Hodges' wife, Mai Sheng Hodges.

"The call was that a male suspect was assaulting a female," Kinney said. But as officers were en route to the apartment complex, they received additional information that the suspect had fled, and that "there was possibly 3 deceased children inside the apartment."

Police and firefighters who encountered the horrific scene attempted lifesaving efforts, but the children were pronounced dead at the scene.

Meanwhile, police issued a be-on-the-lookout bulletin for Hodges, whose Honda sedan was spotted by a CHP officer patrolling the area of Interstate 80 and Reed Avenue. Hodges yielded to a traffic stop near the West El Camino Avenue exit and was taken into custody without incident, Kinney said.

Hodges is the father of all 3 children, Kinney confirmed. He is being held without bail at the Yolo County Jail, where he declined an interview request from The Davis Enterprise.

Kinney said it was Mai Sheng Hodges who discovered the children's bodies inside the 2nd-floor apartment.

The couple had been married since 2005, according to Mai Hodges' Facebook page, photos on which document happier family times on holidays, at an amusement park and, more recently, celebrating baby Lucas' birth.

One picture shows a beaming Kelvin Hodges cradling his swaddled newborn brother while Julie Hodges grins next to him.

"I'm just assuming she's devastated," Kinney said of the children's mother. A GoFundMe account has been established to offer Mai Hodges financial assistance: https://www.gofundme.com/supporting-mother-of-3-in-tragedy.

As word of the tragedy spread through the Timbers Apartments, someone tied a bouquet of star-shaped helium balloons and placed three flower windmills outside the family's apartment Thursday morning in memory of the young victims.

"Those were some real happy kids," said a visibly shaken Betty Scott, a neighbor who heard the mother's anguished screams when she found her lifeless children.

"I see them every morning going to school" on their scooters, said Scott, who lives in the apartment below the family. She said she never heard anything amiss coming from the unit upstairs.

"No arguing, no fighting, no kids crying, no nothing," Scott said. "It was a good family."

She described Hodges as "just a quiet man - he didn't do no talking. You wouldn't think anything was wrong."

But something went terribly awry Wednesday night in apartment #44. Scott said the children's mother came home from work and was assaulted by Hodges, initiating the domestic violence call to police. As she waited for officers to arrive, the woman sat outside the apartment crying.

"Then she went upstairs, and that's when she found her kids and started screaming," said Scott, who heard the commotion from her own apartment. She first learned of the children's deaths later that night when police knocked on her door.

"I'm still messed up," said Scott, a grandmother of 12. "I was still waiting for the kids to come out this morning and go to school."

Southport Elementary School administrators summoned grief counselors and an emotional support dog to the campus to assist the children and staff, in addition to organizing Thursday night's gathering.

Speakers at the vigil included school board members, several local pastors and a relative of Mai Sheng Hodges, who expressed gratitude to the crowd on the grieving mother's behalf.

"We need to rally around this family and give them the support they need," Mai Menzies told the somber crowd, which included dozens of local police and firefighters. "We need to unify the community as a tribe, because togetherness is strength. ...I can't be any prouder right now to say that you are my family."

Hodges does not have a criminal history in Yolo County, where online records show his only brushes with the law were for traffic-related offenses in 2004, 2005 and 2007. A search of Sacramento County records came up blank.

"Nothing stood out. There's no knowing what was going through his mind," Kinney said.

The sergeant said his agency's entire detectives' unit responded to the homicide scene Wednesday night, as did some patrol officers and investigators from the Yolo County District Attorney's Office.

Yolo County sheriff's deputies, meanwhile, stepped in to handle calls for service during the crime-scene investigation, which ended at about 7 a.m. Thursday.

Kinney said he could not recall another homicide case like it, either in West Sacramento or other agencies where he's worked during his 30-year career.

"It certainly puts a lump in your throat. It rattled the cages of some of these officers, and I'm certain it did the same thing with the firefighters," who will be offered the services of crisis counselors to process the trauma, Kinney said.

"But they had to perform and they did - not only what their training told them to do, but what their hearts told them to do, and I'm very proud of all of their efforts," he added.

(source: Davis Enterprise)

**********************

Death recommended for Moreno Valley woman who killed her husband for $1 million in life insurance

A Riverside jury on Thursday recommended the death penalty for a Moreno Valley woman who fatally shot her 56-year-old husband to collect more than $1 million in life insurance proceeds.

Jurors deliberated 2 days before reaching a unanimous decision as to the fate of Lorraine Alison Hunter, 61.

The same panel last month convicted her of 1st-degree murder and found true special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and killing for financial gain in the 2009 execution-style slaying of Albert Thomas.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mac Fisher is expected to follow the jury's recommendation when he sentences Hunter on Dec. 8 at the Riverside Hall of Justice. She's being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center.

The penalty phase of the defendant's trial lasted roughly 2 weeks and was preceded by the evidentiary phase, which culminated in guilty verdicts on Aug. 21.

The prosecution's key witness was Hunter's now-23-year-old daughter, Briuana Lashanae Hunter, who confessed to plotting with her mother to kill Thomas.

Briauana Hunter pleaded guilty last year to 3 counts of attempted murder and 1 count of voluntary manslaughter. She's slated to be sentenced to 18 years in state prison on Sept. 25.

The young woman, who's being held without bail at the Indio Jail, testified that her stepfather was a "calm, quiet person," who was "never overly aggressive" in the 7 years that she and her mother lived with him in Moreno Valley.

Briauana Hunter stated that he held down 2 jobs - 1 as a short-haul trucker and another as a clerk at a Moreno Valley Auto Zone.

The witness said her mother frequently argued with Thomas about not having enough money to spend. According to Deputy District Attorney Will Robinson's trial brief, the elder Hunter was "money hungry" and not interested in holding down a job to contribute to the household.

Briauana Hunter said she aided her mother in filling out at least three life insurance applications, naming her stepfather as the insured party and Lorraine Hunter as the principal beneficiary. The woman forged Thomas' name on each application.

Hunter took out a $750,000 policy, as well as a $10,000 policy, Robinson said. Thomas additionally had a $450,000 policy through the trucking company for which he worked, according to court papers.

In the two months before he was gunned down, Lorraine Hunter attempted to shoot Thomas 3 times - twice on walks through their neighborhood in the area of Day Street and Eucalyptus Avenue, and another time outside the victim's workplace. Briuana Hunter admitted being present on each occasion.

On the evening of Nov. 3, 2009, Thomas and the defendants left their apartment and strolled to his big rig, where he wanted to grab a sweatshirt that he had bought for his then-15-year-old stepdaughter, according to trial testimony.

The 3 of them climbed into his truck, and Thomas ducked into the rear sleeper compartment to find the shirt, while Hunter and her daughter sat in the front seat.

Robinson said Lorraine Hunter pulled a small-caliber handgun she'd stolen from a member of her church and shot the victim point-blank in the back of the head twice, then shot him twice in the upper back as he knelt in the compartment. He died in a kneeling position.

Hunter and her daughter fled the scene with the help of a relative, and the case went cold for 2 years, until the same relative confessed everything she knew to investigators after being arrested herself for an unrelated offense.

(source: The Press-Enterprise)

IRAN----executions

Unidentified Man Hanged in Public in Front of Crowd of People

A prisoner was hanged in public in the city of Eslamabad-e Gharb (Kermanshah province) on murder charges. Photos published from the public execution shows children among the crowd of people who watched the hanging. According to a report by the state-run news agency, Mehr, the execution was carried out on the morning of Tuesday September 12. The report does not mention the name of the prisoner, but identifies his age as 27.

The research of Iran Human Rights shows 34 people were hanged in public in Iran in 2016; and an audience of hundreds of people, including children, were present for most of these hangings. Human rights activists and informed membes of civil society have always severely criticized this issue.

******************

Prisoner Hanged in Public While Crowd Watched

A prisoner was hanged in public in Salmas County (West Azerbaijan) in front of a crowd of people. According to a report by the state-run news agency, Javan, the public execution was carried out on the morning of Thursday September 14. This report did not identify the prisoner's name, but the Center for Democracy and Human Rights of Kurdistan has identified the prisoner as Davoud Hajizadeh.

The research of Iran Human Rights shows 34 people were hanged in public in Iran in 2016; and an audience of hundreds of people, including children, were present for most of these hangings. Human rights activists and informed membes of civil society have always severely criticized this issue.

(source for all: Iran Human Rights)

BOTSWANA:

Death row inmates' last plea for life

After months of postponements, 2 Gantsi farmhands convicted of a gruesome 2014 murder, today make their final pleas for mercy to convince Justice Abednego Tafa not to impose the death penalty on them. Tshiamo Kgalalelo and Mmika Mpe were earlier this year convicted of abducting, robbing and killing their employer, Reinette Vorster, before stealing her motor vehicle and burning her inside it.

Attorneys, Themba Joina for Kgalalelo, and Archibald Gijima for Mpe, are due to submit extenuating and mitigating factors in favour of their clients, in an effort to stave off the death penalty.

Yesterday, an insider close to the case told Mmegi that the lawyers had already submitted written mitigating and extenuating circumstances in the past 14 days and as such, there was no room for any further delays in the matter. "The mitigating and extenuating circumstances have been already filed as Judge Tafa had ordered, and we are hopeful that this time around there will be some progress. We expect defendants to mitigate verbally today and we also expect at the same time that there won't be long presentations because the arguments have already been filed," the source said.

The case has dragged since the guilty verdict was announced earlier this year, with Tafa growing exasperated by the frequent glitches. Mitigation and extenuation was due to have been done on June 28, but failed after Joina did not appear, triggering a stern warning from Tafa. It is reported that anti-death penalty groups are closely following the case with a view to jumping in should Tafa send the duo to the gallows.

(source: mmegionline.com)

VIETNAM:

Vietnam's graft trial: Defense lawyer blames ousted Party bigwig for sanctioning backyard banking services----The lawyer says Dinh La Thang enabled scandal-hit OceanBank to function as the de facto internal institution for PetroVietnam.

The defense lawyer of a former PetroVietnam chairman facing the death sentence in a massive graft trial has said his client just enforced the executive orders already sanctioned by a recently dismissed high-ranking official who then headed the state energy giant.

Prosecutors on Thursday sought the death penalty for Nguyen Xuan Son, who was Petro Vietnam's chairman from 2014 until he was arrested in 2015, on charges of embezzlement. Son was also charged with abuse of power and economic mismanagement.

The proposed sentence came as the OceanBank trial, with 51 bankers and businessmen in the dock, was halfway through its expected 20-day duration, opening a can of worms in one of Vietnam's toughest corruption crackdowns of which PetroVietnam and the banking sector have been at the center.

Son was the CEO of OceanBank between 2008 and 2010, during which time PetroVietnam became a major shareholder. The 55-year-old, who had held various executive positions at PetroVietnam from 2003, is accused of pocketing around $11 million from the bank.

He was charged with abusing his power to railroad OceanBank into forking out illegal interest payments in pursuit of personal gains. According to prosecutors, more than 50,000 individuals and nearly 400 businesses and organizations have been identified as the beneficiaries of such interest payments worth $70.4 million from OceanBank.

But Son's defense lawyer, Nguyen Minh Tam, dismissed such allegations on Thursday, saying the buck stopped with Dinh La Thang, the chairman of PetroVietnam between 2006 and 2011.

Tam essentially argued that it was Thang that signed off on documents that authorized OceanBank to function as the de facto internal institution tasked with exclusively handling all financial transactions for PetroVietnam.

Tam invoked a document dated September 2010 in which Thang asked PetroVietnam's contractors and units to open accounts at OceanBank and use other financial services there.

According to Tam, in September 2008, Thang had already signed off on another document stating that PetroVietnam would use OceanBank-provided services. Tam noted that Son did not become CEO of OceanBank until 3 months later, suggesting his client had no sway on the issue.

"No one at PetroVietnam, including Son, could upend such policies," Tam said at the trial. "There is thus no reason to charge him with abusing his power to usurp assets."

Grilled by prosecutors on such policies last Monday, Hoang Van Dung, a PetroVietnam representative, said the group only encouraged its units to use OceanBank's financial services "on a voluntary basis."

Lawyers are scheduled to continue spelling out their defenses Friday. Ha Van Tham, the former OceanBank chairman, is facing life imprisonment on charges ranging from embezzlement to abuse of power. Other ex-bankers are facing up to 27 years in jail.

Dinh La Thang was dismissed from the Communist Party's decision-making Politburo in May, and later fired from his position as the leader of Ho Chi Minh City.

Thang was held responsible for "serious" violations and mismanagement during his time as PetroVietnam's chairman from 2009 to 2011. The Central Inspection Committee, the Party's top watchdog, also blamed Thang for an excessive stake purchased in OceanBank. PetroVietnam held a VND800 billion ($35 million) stake in the bank, but that was completely written off when the central bank took it over in 2015.

Since May, Thang has been demoted to the post of vice head of the Central Economic Commission, which advises the Party on economic policies.

The punishment handed down to him was the harshest to be meted out to a Politburo member in years, if not decades.

"This is a very unusual case," Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asia analyst in Washington, said of Thang's dismissal. The Party is trying to "show that even the most politically powerful are not immune."

(source: vnexpress.net)

SEPTEMBER 14, 2016:

TEXAS:

Hudson murder trial could face lengthy delay

William Hudson, 33, has been indicted on 3 counts of capital murder in the massacre of 2 families at a hunting campsite in the East Texas town of Tennessee Colony.

Health problems suffered by William Mitchell Hudson's attorney could delay the trial of the accused murderer for weeks. Hudson's lawyer, Stephen Evans, was hospitalized on Tuesday for an undisclosed health matter and remained under medical care on Wednesday.

The trial, set for Sept. 25, will take place in Bryan College Station. The final pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 21. That hearing is still on the docket, said Judge Mark Calhoon, who will preside over the trial.

Hudson is represented by Evans and defense attorney Jeff Herrington. Hudson will be tried for the November 2015 murders of six people: the Johnson and Kamp families, who were spending the weekend in Tennessee Colony at a campsite.

Thomas Kamp had purchased the campsite from a relative of William Mitchell Hudson, adjacent to property owned by Hudson and his family. Hudson helped the Kamp/Johnson group with a vehicle stuck in the mud; he was invited to hang out with the family at its campsite.

After a night of drinking with Hudson, events reportedly became violent. Cynthia Johnson survived a night of horror, before contacting Anderson County law enforcement the following morning.

Law-enforcement officers and first-responders found the bodies of Carl Johnson and his daughter in a travel trailer at the campsite; the other victims were in a pond on Hudson's property. All of the victims were shot to death, except Hannah Johnson, who was killed with blunt force.

Hudson was arrested and charged with 3 counts of capital murder for killing 6 people. He was indicted in December 2015 for the capital murders of Carl Johnson, 76; his daughter, Hannah Johnson, 40; his grandson, Kade, 6; Thomas Kamp, 45; and his 2 sons, Nathan Kamp, 23, and Austin Kamp, 21.

In a February 2016 arraignment, Hudson plead "not guilty" to all 3 counts of capital murder.

On Jan. 23, according to court records, District Attorney Allyson Mitchell filed a State of Notice to Seek the Death Penalty. The next day, Mitchell signed documents stating that the court had officially moved to Bryan in Brazos County for the change of venue.

Hudson spent 2 weeks in a hospital in Tyler in July. Speculation that Hudson attempted suicide has not been confirmed by the court, the Anderson County Jail or Sheriff Taylor.

(source: palestineherald.com)

OHIO:

Death sentence upheld in Warren execution-style slaying

The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty for the man convicted of murdering a Warren man and kidnapping a woman during a robbery.

The court affirmed the death sentence for David Martin on Wednesday, just 1 day before Martin will turn 33-years-old.

Martin has been on death row since 2014 when he was sentenced by a judge in Trumbull County on convictions of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

Investigators say Martin shot 21-year-old Jeremy Cole execution style and wounded Melissa Putnam during an attempted robbery in Warren in 2012.

According to investigators, after Martin tied up both victims, Melissa Putnam heard a shot then saw Martin standing over her.

Putnam put her hand over her face and said, "Please don't shoot me in the face." Martin said, "I'm sorry, Missy," and shot her, according to court records.

The bullet passed through Putnam's right hand and entered her neck, leaving fragments in the right side of her neck near the base of her skull.

On the day of the sentencing, Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker described Martin as a cold-blooded killer and a life-long criminal.

Among other issues, Martin's attorney questions whether an impartial jury was seated to hear the case due to pretrial publicity regarding the crime and Martin's association with a hostage situation at the Trumbull County Jail four months before his trial.

Martin is scheduled for execution on May 26, 2021.

(source: WFMJ news)

*********************

Attorney for executed Parma murderer says she believes inmate suffered pain during lethal injection

An attorney for Gary Otte, a man put to death Wednesday for killing 2 people in Parma in 1992, said she saw signs that her client experienced pain as the execution team injected him with a sedative, the 1st of 3-drug combination.

Carol Wright, the supervising attorney for the Columbus Federal Public Defender's Office's capital unit, watched Otte's execution from the viewing area of the state's death house. The execution was carried out Wednesday morning at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, and Otte was pronounced dead at 10:54 a.m.

Wright said Otte's movements and actions as he received midazolam, a sedative, indicated to her that Otte felt "pain or sensations" as he was about to die.

Her statements on what she saw mirror legal arguments she and her team have made that say midazolam does not render inmates deeply unconscious, and its use in executions could lead the state to violate an inmate's constitutional right.

Otte's stomach raised and lowered several times after the execution team began the injections. That stopped after several minutes, presumably when the execution team gave him a paralytic drug. Then the execution team gave Otte a drug that stopped his heart.

Wright said the stomach movements were abnormal and evidence that Otte was struggling to get air. She also said Otte was crying.

She said she saw these reactions and got out of her seat to call Dayton federal magistrate Judge Michael Merz, who presides over litigation brought by death row inmates challenging the state's use of the 3-drug combination in executions.

That caused another problem, Wright said.

"They would not allow me to leave the room until several minutes passed," Wright said of the staff in the death house, adding that protocol says she should be allowed to leave immediately.

A staff member eventually let Wright out, and she called the prison's waiting room so one of her colleagues could reach Merz on the phone.

"It was my hope to alert the court to what I believed was a constitutional violation," she said.

That took several more minutes, and by the time Merz was on the line, it appeared the execution team had already given Otte the 2nd injection. She told Merz that the stomach movements stopped and she did not see any more tears, and Merz declined to intervene.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said department staff handled Wright's request to leave the room appropriately. Smith said in an email that "we followed proper security protocol, and once her identity and intention was verified she was given permission to exit the room."

The whole process led Wright to believe that the state's execution team was ill-prepared and made mistakes.

The state disagreed.

"The execution was carried out in compliance with the execution policy and without complication," Smith said.

Otte, 45, of Terre Haute, Indiana, was executed for robbing and murdering Robert Wasikowski, 61, and Sharon Kostura, 45, in February 1992. He's the second Ohio inmate executed this year.

Merz declared Ohio's latest execution protocol unconstitutional in January, but a federal appeals court overturned his ruling.

The state used this protocol after it had problems during the execution of death-row inmate Dennis McGuire in January 2014. McGuire was executed with a previously unused drug combination.

(source: cleveland.com)

************************

Death penalty protesters spread message in Warren

As they held up signs on Courthouse Square condemning state-sponsored executions, a group of women and men grew silent and bowed their heads at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

At that moment, Gary Otte, 45, was being put to death at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville for the 1992 killings of Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura outside of Cleveland.

"We aren't out here because we have any sympathy for his actions. We strongly condemn what he did," said Pat Rogan, organizer of the 8-person protest. "We understand the severity of his actions and believe the state has a right to punish him."

However, there is a difference between revenge and justice, Rogan said.

Most of the participants were there because their religious beliefs drive them to support a natural life cycle, from birth to natural death, including Catholics, Quakers and Universal Unitarians, Rogan said.

On top of their religious beliefs, she said the group believes the system that puts people to death can be unfair.

"It isn't the worst of the worst who gets put to death. It is usually the poorest of the poorest. You are more likely to get the death penalty for killing a white person, not for killing a person of color. It's just not a fair system," Rogan said.

A life sentence makes more sense financially, ethically and avoids the possibility of handing down the ultimate sentence in an imperfect system, Rogan said.

Alice and Staughton Lynd of Niles are Quakers and attorneys and have been focused on the death penalty issue for years.

"I have been appalled by the death penalty since I first learned of it," Staughton Lynd said. "I couldn't believe it existed, it is a terrible thing."

The Lynds have studied several death row cases, including the 1993 Lucasville riot that led to death sentences for five people authorities said were responsible for 10 deaths during the 10-day riot.

Staughton Lynd said he has often found shoddy evidence at the center of prosecutors' cases and found they relied on the testimony of people whose stories did not match medical examination findings.

Alice Lynd said eyewitness testimony can be faulty, and state-sponsored executions should not be dependent on the reliability of someone's memory. Defendants may refuse to take plea bargains because they are truly innocent and find themselves at the mercy of a jury, Lynd said.

But juries are often biased toward the prosecution, figuring the state wouldn't go through the expense of a trial if it weren't sure, Alice Lynd said.

And, "The definition of aggravated murder is intent to cause death with prior planning. That's exactly what execution is," Alice Lynd said. "Think of that, a man sitting there counting down the minutes to his death."

Rogan said she has visited the "death house" on the day of an execution.

"It is surreal. The corrections officers are so friendly and accommodating - asking him if there is anything he needs, anything he wants. It is unnerving. The officers are just doing their jobs, and they are great people I have a lot of respect for. But it isn't fair to the corrections officers, to force them to participate in a murder," Rogan said.

(source: tribtoday.com)

MISSOURI:

Missouri governor appoints former judges in St. Louis County death penalty case

Gov. Eric Greitens named 5 retired judges to a special panel Tuesday to help him decide whether a man convicted of killing a former Post-Dispatch reporter should be executed.

The move came 4 weeks after the Republican governor called off the scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams amid claims by his attorneys that recent DNA tests could prove their client's innocence.

Members of the panel are: Former Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District Judge Booker Shaw; former 22nd Circuit Judge Michael David; former Circuit Judge Peggy Fenner of Jackson County; former U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson, who served in the eastern district; and, former Missouri Court of Appeals Western District Judge Paul Spinden.

At issue is Williams' role in the 1998 murder of Lisha Gayle at her home in University City.

Mystery surrounds 2 stabbings

Lisha Gayle, a former Post-Dispatch reporter, was stabbed to death by a burglar in her University City home on Aug. 11, 1998.

With the clock ticking on Williams' scheduled execution by injection on Aug. 22, Greitens invoked a rarely used state law giving him discretion to appoint a board to gather information and report back on whether a person condemned to death should be executed.

The judges will have the power to subpoena witnesses and evidence, but the proceedings will be conducted behind closed doors. Williams, 48, was sentenced to death in 2001. Prosecutors said Williams was burglarizing the home when Gayle, who had been taking a shower, surprised him. The former reporter, who left the paper in 1992, fought for her life as she was stabbed repeatedly.

Williams' attorneys claim DNA tests could prove his innocence.

The Missouri Supreme Court in 2015 postponed Williams' execution to allow time for the DNA tests. Using technology that was not available at the time of the killing, those tests show that DNA found on the knife matched that of an unknown male. Williams' DNA was not found on the knife.

Despite that finding, the state's high court denied his petition to stop the execution and either appoint a special master to hear his innocence claim or vacate the death sentence and order his sentence commuted to life in prison.

No timetable for the judges' work was immediately available Tuesday.

(source: stltoday.com)

********************

Woman who voted for death penalty tracks down other jurors to see if they regret decision

Most everyone has an opinion on the death penalty, but not many people have ever had to make a decision whether to sentence someone to death.

"It's something that changes you, it changed me," Lindy Lou Isonhood said before a screening of a film detailing her story at Park Hill High Wednesday night.

Isonhood served on the jury that would decide the fate of Bobby Wilcher in Mississippi in 1994.

"I asked the other jurors, 'what about a life sentence?'" Isonhood said.

The decision to give Wilcher the death penalty still haunts her, so much so she went to visit the man convicted of 2 brutal murders on the day of his execution.

"I wanted to ask him to forgive me for my hand in his death because I didn't want to have to do what I did. He told me he didn't want me to feel guilty, he put himself in that situation," she said.

Isonhood collaborated with producers on the 2017 film, Lindy Lou, Juror #2. In the documentary she tracks down many of the 11 other jurors to see if they also 2nd-guessed their decision.

"I thought about that every moment for a while, did we do the right thing?" one juror tells Isonhood in the documentary.

Isonhood says though she no longer supports the death penalty, she is in favor of better educating jurors about their options in sentencing and the possibilities of parole.

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty sponsored the screening of the documentary. The group also praised a recent decision by Governor Eric Greitens to stay the execution of Marcellus Williams for the time being.

Tuesday he announced the retired judges who will be on a board of inquiry looking into possible DNA evidence in the murder of a St. Louis Post Dispatch reporter that could possibly exonerate Williams.

"He came within 4 hours of his execution so that's pretty frightening. But we see it as a step in the right direction, Gov. Greitens was willing to stay the execution," Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Assistant to the Executive Director Esmie Tseng said.

MADP will sponsor another screening of the film Thursday at Park University at 3 p.m.

(source: fox4kc.com)

ARIZONA:

Death row inmate denied appeal

A convicted child killer is 1 step closer to lethal injection.

Frank Jarvis Atwood lost another appeal as he continued his more than 30-year fight to avoid the death penalty.

He was convicted of the 1984 murder of an 8-year-old girl from Tucson, Vickie Lynn Hoskinson.

Today, the U.S. ninth circuit court of appeals denied Atwood's appeal.

If the circuit denies a rehearing, Atwood's last change depends on whether the supreme court agrees to hear his case.

(source: KGUN news)

NEVADA----impending volunteer execution

Nevada inmate asks how he should mentally prepare for execution

Scott Dozier has 2 months to live, and lawyers for the condemned Nevada inmate are still fighting in court for details about his execution.

While Dozier has not wavered from his death wish, which he put in writing nearly a year ago, he revealed publicly for the first time Monday his concerns about the state's plans for lethal injection with an unprecedented 3-drug cocktail.

"What do I need to be mentally prepared for?" Dozier asked District Judge Jennifer Togliatti, who has signed his execution warrant. "Is it something that seems like a reasonably easy transition, or do I need to have my game up and have the mental fortitude, intestinal fortitude to have a less than - you know - what could be a miserable experience?"

Federal public defenders representing Dozier told a judge on Monday that they plan to meet with deputies from the Nevada attorney general's office, which represents the Department of Corrections, to discuss which portions of the state's execution manual should be made public or reviewed by a medical expert.

Citing prison security concerns, prison officials have argued that Dozier should not be allowed access to the entire confidential document.

But prison officials recently reported the 3 drugs expected to be used in his execution: diazepam, which is normally used to treat anxiety and muscle spasms; fentanyl, used for pain; and cisatracurium, a skeletal muscle relaxant or paralytic.

What hasn't been disclosed: how the state obtained the drugs, or the sequence and timing of administering the lethal drug cocktail.

Dozier is scheduled to die Nov. 14, less than a week before his 47th birthday.

Assistant Federal Public Defender David Anthony said he wanted to review possible alternatives.

"If he has a choice between a safe and effective execution and a painful, torturous one," Anthony said, ďI think he's going to choose the safe one."

The judge interjected.

"Safe, meaning not painful and torturous?" she asked. "Because I wouldn't say 'safe,' since he'll be dead."

Shackled and seated nearby in orange prison garb, Dozier simply smiled.

Togliatti ordered the lawyers back in court later this week.

Dozier would be the 1st Nevada inmate executed in more than a decade. He was sent to Nevada's death row nearly 10 years ago for his 2nd killing.

A Clark County jury convicted him in September 2007 of killing 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at the now-closed La Concha Motel. In 2005, Dozier was convicted in Arizona of 2nd-degree murder.

(source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

CALIFORNIA:

Judge to decide whether man can face charges in killing of Stanislaus sheriff's deputy

A judge will have to decide if a man accused of killing Stanislaus County sheriff's Deputy Dennis Wallace is mentally competent to face criminal charges.

David Machado appeared in court Wednesday. He is charged with murder in Wallace's death last year.

The deputy was killed shortly before 8:30 a.m. Nov. 13 after he spotted a stolen van at the Fox Grove Fishing Access near Hughson. Wallace, 53, was a 20-year Sheriff's Department veteran, assigned to Salida, the courthouse and most recently Hughson. Authorities say Wallace was shot in the head twice at close range.

Machado's case has remained suspended, since the court determined that his mental competency needed to be restored before proceeding. A forensic psychologist reported that Machado was able to understand the court proceedings, but the defendant was not capable of assisting his attorney in the case.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff on Wednesday scheduled a court trial to begin Nov. 16. Attorneys on both sides will present evidence concerning Machado's mental competency, according to John Goold, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office.

At the end of the trial, Judge Zeff will determine whether Machado's ability to understand the criminal proceedings and assist in his legal defense. The judge could reinstate the murder case or send Machado to receive additional treatment to restore his competency.

Machado cannot face charges in the deputy's death until after his mental competency is restored.

The defendant's murder charge comes with a special-circumstance allegation that makes the case eligible for the death penalty. But the District Attorney's Office has not informed the court if it will seek the death penalty against Machado.

(source: modbee.com)

VIETNAM:

Vietnam seeks death penalty for embezzlement by ex-chairman of state energy firm

Prosecutors in Vietnam on Thursday said they were seeking the death sentence in an embezzlement case against a former chairman of state energy firm PetroVietnam, as the communist country steps up one of its biggest corruption crackdowns.

Some high-ranking political officials have been punished as investigations widen into PetroVietnam and the banking sector, with dozens of banking and energy officials facing trial on charges such as embezzlement, mismanagement and abuse of power.

In a statement, the Supreme People's Procuracy of Vietnam said it had sought a death sentence for the former chairman, Nguyen Xuan Son, on charges that include wrongdoing with serious economic consequences and abuse of power to usurp assets.

It urged "an overall penalty of death", listing punishments such as a jail term of 16 to 18 years for flouting state rules on economic management and life imprisonment for abuse of power, before seeking the "death sentence for embezzlement".

In 2009, PetroVietnam acquired an 800-billion-dong ($35-million) stake in Ocean Group's banking unit, Ocean Bank, which had to be completely written off in 2015, when the central bank took it over at no cost.

Son could not be reached for comment as he is on trial, and Reuters could not immediately reach his lawyer.

Prosecutors also sought life imprisonment for Ocean Groupís founder, tycoon Ha Van Tham on charges ranging from embezzlement to abuse of power, the statement said, adding that dozens of other Ocean Bank staff could also face years in jail.

Ocean Group, which has interests in real estate, finance, hotels and infrastructure, said it had no comment on the sentence sought for Tham, who cannot be reached as he is still on trial.

Police opened 3 new cases against state firm units, among them Russian joint venture Vietsovpetro, Vietnam's sole refinery operator Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical, and PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corp.

All three cases focus on alleged abuse of power to usurp assets and are linked to violations at Ocean Bank, Vietnam's police said in a statement on their website on Thursday.

Police added another accusation of abuse of power against PetroVietnam's vice general director Ninh Van Quynh, they added, following his arrest and prosecution this month for alleged wrongdoing.

(source: Reuters)

****************

Death row inmates stage jail-break in Hanoi----Police are tracking down the 2 men who escaped 4 days ago.

Police in Hanoi have launched a manhunt for 2 death row inmates who escaped from solitary confinement in Thanh Oai District last Sunday.

Sources from the Ministry of Public Security only confirmed the jail break on Wednesday, calling it a rare incident. People held in solitary confinement in Vietnam are supposed to have their legs cuffed.

Nguyen Van Tinh, 28, was sentenced to death in April for heroin trafficking. Le Van Tho, 37, received the death penalty in May for drug trafficking, murder and fraud.

Both have appealed their sentences and were awaiting retrial.

(source: vnexpress.net)

IRAQ:

Russian who joined ISIS in Iraq sentenced to hanging

A man who left Russia to join ISIS in Mosul was sentenced to death by hanging in Iraqi court - the 1st such ruling on a foreign fighter, according to a new report.

The unnamed foreign fighter was captured after the fall of the ISIS-held city in July, along with hundreds of suspected jihadists, including German teen-bride Linda Wenzel, Telegraph UK reported.

Authorities said the 28-year-old Russian man was the 1st fighter to surrender when Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, and that he admitted to "carrying out terrorism operations," since 2015.

He said he discovered Islam in Moscow when construction workers introduced him to the religion and, after getting a degree in engineering in 2014, traveled to Turkey with the intention of entering Syria to join ISIS.

It is estimated that as many as 7,000 people have left Russia and other former Soviet states to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The Russian's death sentence could set a deadly precedent for others captured alongside the bloodthirsty jihadists - including the 16-year-old "Belle of Mosul."

Wenzel's case garnered attention after pictures and videos of her looking disheveled as she was being led out of the Iraqi city were published. She faces the death penalty but even if she is sentenced to death, she would not be executed before the age of 22.

As many as 5,000 men are awaiting trial in Mosul, judges told the outlet and 27 ISIS fighters were sentenced to death by hanging last month in Baghdad.

In 2016, Iraq executed more than 88 people, topped only by Saudi Arabia, Iran and China.

Russian who joined ISIS in Iraq sentenced to hanging

(source: nypost.com)

INDIA:

Madikeri: Cyanide Mohan, on death row, found guilty of murdering yet another woman

Notorious murder convict Cyanide Mohan, who has already been awarded death penalty for killing 3 out of the 20 women he is charged of murdering, has been convicted in yet another case.

The 6th additional district and sessions court on Wednesday September 13 found Cyanide Mohan guilty of killing a woman in Madikeri back in 2009.

As was his modus operandi, Cyanide Mohan lured a woman from Puttur with the false promise of marriage, and took her to Madikeri, where he murdered her by making her consume cyanide.

The quantam of punishment will be pronounced on September 15.

Advocate Judith O M Crasta was the public prosecutor in the case.

In December 2013, Mohan Kumar alias Cyanide Mohan was sentenced to death after he was convicted of killing at least 3 women, out of the 20 murders he was charged with. This will be the 4th murder case proved against him. The remaning 16 women also died of cyanide consumption in the same way.

He was earlier found guilty of murdering Anitha of Barimar, Leelavathi of Vamadapadav and Sunanda of Peruvaje, Sullia.

(source: daijiworld.com)

MALAYSIA:

Murdering son: Filipino to know his fate Nov 3

A 40-year-old Filipino lorry driver charged with the murder of his 8-year-old son will know on Nov 3 whether he will have to enter his defence or be acquitted.

High Court Judge Datuk Nurchaya Hj Arshad set the date for Aldwin Rojas Saz when the prosecution closed its case on Tuesday after calling 9 witnesses.

The court also fixed Oct 2 for the defence to submit their submissions and for the prosecution to reply on or before Oct 23.

Aldwin is accused of committing the crime to Rojas Jonvin at 2am on Feb 18, 2016 in a house behind the Wangsa sawmill in Nabawan.

He had on Nov 21, 2016 pleaded not guilty to the charge under Section 302 of the Penal Code which provides for the death penalty, upon conviction.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gan Peng Kun prosecuted while Aldwin was represented by counsel Farazwin Hexdy.

Meanwhile, in the Magistrate's Court, 3 people were penalised for committing drug-related offences.

Nur Shazila Azman, 21, was fined RM2,000 or 4 months jail after she admitted to having 0.09gm syabu at 4pm on July 23 in Putatan.

Johnson Voo and Jaafar Makling were also fined RM2,000 or 4 months jail each for taking drugs last month.

Insp Rasydan Jasni prosecuted before Magistrate Jessica Ombou Kakayun, while Nur, Voo and Jaafar were not represented.

(source: Daily Express)

SEPTEMBER 13, 2017:

OHIO----execution

Ohio Executes Double Murderer Gary Otte

An Ohio man convicted of back-to-back murders 25 years ago was executed Wednesday morning after the courts rejected his arguments that the lethal injection the state uses could expose him to serious pain.

Gary Otte was the 2nd inmate put to death since Ohio ended a 3-year execution hiatus prompted by a lethal injection that raised questions about the drugs being used. Outside the prison in Lucasville, anti-execution activists tolled bells to mark his death, which the Associated Press recorded at 10:54 a.m.

In a tweet on the eve of the execution, his attorney, Vickie Werneke, said that while Otte had fought vigorously to stop the state from killing him, he was "at peace." Prison officials said he did not sleep the night before the execution.

Otte, 45, was sent to death row for fatally shooting Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura during home invasion robberies in a Cleveland suburb in 1992.

His last-ditch appeals included claims that use of the execution sedative midazolam is unconstitutional and that he should have been spared the death penalty because he was under 21 at the time of the crime.

The anti-execution activist Sister Helen Prejean also took up Otte's cause, tweeting that he has a low IQ and psychological problems.

But the U.S. Supreme Court and the state's highest court declined to halt the execution.

The state has scheduled another 2 dozen executions between now and 2020.

Otte becomes the 55th condemned inmate to be put to death in Ohio since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

Otte becomes the 18th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1460th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: NBC News & Rick Halperin)

INDONESIA:

Drug dealer sentenced to death in Medan

The Medan District Court has declared Irwantoni, 38, guilty and sentenced him to death for his involvement in the delivery of 270 kilograms of sabu-sabu (crystal methamphetamine) from China.

The sentence was in accordance with what prosecutors sought.

In the verdict hearing held on Wednesday, presiding judge Saryana said Irwantoni was proven to have sent the drugs from China to Dumai, Riau and Medan, North Sumatra, violating the 2009 Narcotics Law.

"We sentenced the defendant with the death penalty," Saryana said.

Besides Irwantoni, 4 defendants - Daud aka Athiam, 47, Ayau, 40, Lukmansyah Bin Nasrul, 36, and Jimmi Syahputra Bin Rusli, 27 - were handed the death penalty in previous hearings in the case for their involvement in the delivery of the drugs.

The delivery of the crystal meth was thwarted by personnel of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) on Oct. 17, 2015.

Meanwhile, personnel of the BNN's North Sumatra branch shot dead an alleged drug dealer on Jl. Medan-Binjai KM 16, Sunggal, in Deli Serdang regency on Tuesday evening.

The alleged dealer was believed to be part of the Medan-Binjai-Palembang drug network.

"We shot dead 1 person and arrested 4 others. We seized 12 kilograms of sabu-sabu from the network," BNN North Sumatra head Brig. Gen. Andi Loedianto said on Wednesday.

(source: The Jakarta Post)

TEXAS:

Parents of slain Putt-Putt manager still opposed to execution of their son's killer

The parents of a Putt-Putt assistant manager killed in 2006 told a judge Tuesday they are still against the death penalty even though their son's killer received it.

Paul Storey, 32, of Fort Worth received the death penalty for the murder of Jonas Cherry, who begged for his life before he was shot to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in April granted Storey a stay of execution.

A district court hearing continued Tuesday to determine whether defense attorneys were notified by prosecutors during Storey's 2008 trial that Cherry's parents were against the death penalty.

"Judith and Glenn Cherry did not want death for Mr. Storey," an affidavit from the parents stated. "Unknown to the jury and contrary to the state's argument, they stood with the family members who pleaded for the jury to spare Mr. Storey's life."

"I've always thought that way," Judith Cherry, the mother of Jonas Cherry, testified Tuesday. "Yes, it stayed that way even after my son's murder because I did not want to change my values on that. We were told because [Jonas Cherry's widow] was next-of-kin, her opinion carried more weight."

The hearing Tuesday was before Judge Everett Young. Attorneys Mike Ware and Keith Hampton represent Storey, who was dressed Tuesday in a red Tarrant County Jail outfit, sat without showing emotion in the courtroom and rarely spoke to his lawyers.

Attorneys Travis Bragg, Matthew Ottoway and Rachel Patton from the state attorney general's office represented the Tarrant County district attorney's office.

3 defense attorneys in the case - Larry Moore, Mark Daniel and Tim Moore - testified Tuesday they were never told by former Tarrant County assistant district attorneys Robert Foran and Christy Jack about Cherry's parents opposing the death penalty.

Defense attorney William "Bill" Ray testified that he couldn't say if he was told.

Daniel and Tim Moore represented Storey's accomplice, Mark Porter, in the 2008 trial. Larry Moore and Ray represented Storey.

"But if I had known, I would have tried to get the state to waive the death penalty," Ray testified.

Larry Moore, who is now with the Tarrant County district attorney's office, testified he didn't learn about how the Cherrys opposed the death penalty until this year.

"I was shocked and surprised," Moore said when asked how he felt when he heard. "My opinion has changed considerably about [Jack]. My concerns are about her candor."

He noted that, had he known, he could have raised objections during Jack's closing argument in Storey's trial when she told jurors the Cherry family believed the death penalty was appropriate.

State District Judge Mollee Westfall, U.S. Magistrate Jeffrey Cureton and Letty Martinez, a partner at Varghese Summersett, testified Tuesday afternoon that Jack was a credible and truthful attorney.

Jack and Foran testified repeatedly Monday that lawyers for Storey and Porter were told that Cherry's parents were against the death penalty.

Prosecutors have said that while the Cherrys were generally opposed to the death penalty, they were in agreement at the time of the 2008 trial that Storey should be executed because he had refused to accept a plea bargain for life without parole.

On Monday, Bragg introduced a card from the Cherrys to Foran and Jack, thanking them for their work on the case and their "professionalism."

Jonas Cherry was at Putt-Putt Golf and Games, across Texas 121/Loop 820 from North East Mall in Hurst.

Shortly before 9 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2006, Storey and Porter stood over Cherry, who pleaded: "Please! I gave you what you want. Don't hurt me." They refused, shot him twice in the head and twice in his legs and fled with $200 to $700.

Storey and Porter were convicted of capital murder, but only Storey got the death penalty. Porter got life without parole after making a deal with the district attorney's office.

The hearing recessed Tuesday, and more testimony is pending sometime in the next few weeks. After the conclusion of testimony, a decision could take weeks or months, according to attorneys on Tuesday.

(source: star-telegram.com)

VIRGINIA:

Report needed fresh numbers on death penalty

Frank Green of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported in an article running in the Free Lance-Star [Only 4 inmates are on death row in Virginia, Sept. 6, 2017] that a 2016 Gallup national poll showed that 60 % of respondents favored the death penalty and only 37 % opposed it.

However, a 2017 Pew Foundation national poll asking the same question found that 49 % favored the death penalty and 42 % opposed it, a large shift in public opinion in just 1 year. One wonders why the more recent and dramatically different poll results were not reported by Mr. Green.

A 2014 Gallup poll asked about the death penalty in a slightly different way: After conviction for murder, do you favor imposing the death penalty or life in prison without parole? 50 % favored the death penalty and 45 % favored life in prison with no parole.

Because the 2 executions in Virginia this year involved significant issues about the mental health of both of the convicted murderers (Ricky Gray and William Morva), perhaps it is time that the death penalty in this state becomes not just a political issue but also a moral one.

Please join me on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at Central Rappahannock Regional Library headquarters in downtown Fredericksburg, when Mr. Brian Stolarz will discuss his new book, "Grace and Justice on Death Row," to learn more about the many important but publicly unknown issues surrounding the death penalty in the U.S. and Virginia. Regardless of your own position on the death penalty, I guarantee you will be shocked and enlightened if you attend his talk.

Dennis Hardy

Spotsylvania

(source: Letter to the Editor, fredricksburg.com)

*******************

Hungarian citizenship on US death row?

On the evening of July 7 2017, 35-year-old William Charles Morva was executed by lethal injection in the State of Virginia. Although Morva was a Hungarian citizen and the Hungarian Embassy asked for clemency, Virginia's Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe did not spare his life.

Morva's lawyers claimed that he was delusional when he killed 2 men during a prison escape in 2006. The Governor issued a statement that he didn't find a substantial enough reason to intervene. "At the conclusion of that review, I have determined that Mr. Morva was given a fair trial and that the jury heard substantial evidence about his mental health as they prepared to sentence him in accordance with the law of our Commonwealth.... In short, the record before me does not contain sufficient evidence to warrant the extraordinary step of overturning the decision of a lawfully empaneled jury following a properly conducted trial."

Morva was born in 1982 in the United States. His father, Charles Akos Morva (Morva KŠroly) arrived to the US from Hungary as a refugee in 1956. In 2006 the young Morva was in jail for attempted burglary and requested medical treatment of an injury. While being transported to a medical facility he stole a sheriff's gun and fatally shot an unarmed security guard in the face before fleeing. His escape triggered a manhunt. Within a day Morva had killed another deputy and was found later in a ditch with a gun nearby.

The defense team stated that Morva suffered from a personality disorder that resulted in "odd beliefs," but not delusions. According to the prosecutor, Morva had a "superior IQ" and made up his stories. At the end the jury did not buy the insanity plea.

According to court documents, Morva claimed that his father's experiences caused him trauma and affected his life. The elder Morva "was forced to serve in the Nazi-aligned Hungarian Army during World War II although he was Jewish." His father also committed "very gruesome acts" during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and kept his Jewish heritage a secret. In the US, the family kept multiple firearms in the house because his father feared that Nazis would kill him and his family. Morva's father died in 2004 and many questioned the validity of these claims.

In a surprise turn on May 11, 2012, 6 years after his initial arrest, Morva's lawyers filed documents establishing that the defendant was a citizen of Hungary. As a Hungarian citizen, the death penalty would be impossible. The EU has abolished capital punishment and Hungary is an EU member. Did Morva obtain Hungarian citizenship in order to avoid the death penalty? How could he obtain Hungarian citizenship in jail after being accused of murder?

The Hungarian Embassy in Washington started to lobby in Morva's behalf. "While I would like to stress that the Government of Hungary has no intention to interfere in any way with the legal procedures and verdicts of the United States justice system, I would hereby like to make a humanitarian appeal on behalf of William Charles Morva. On behalf of the Hungarian Government, I respectfully request you, Governor McAuliffe, to use the clemency proceedings initiated on behalf of Mr. Morva to commute his sentence to life imprisonment without parole. Should you be able to decide to spare the life of Mr. Morva, the Government of Hungary would welcome and support such a decision."

The Embassy also stated that Hungary, as a member of the European Union and State Party to all relevant international agreements, strongly opposes the use of capital punishment. Strongly opposes?

2 years ago Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatened to reintroduce the death penalty in Hungary. "The death penalty question should be put on the agenda in Hungary," he said. "Hungary will stop at nothing when it comes to protecting its citizens."

Several articles have appeared in the media saying that the Hungarian citizenship process is partially controlled by a "passport mafia." However Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjťn has stated that "the procedure of granting Hungarian citizenship is strictly controlled by the Hungarian state administration and, if need be, police and the secret services are also involved."

The question remains. How and when did William Charles Morva obtain his Hungarian citizenship? We have asked the Hungarian Government. No answer yet.

(source Hungarian Free Press)

NORTH CAROLINA:

Jury to determine life or death for Campbell following closing arguments

When a North Carolina jury returns to court Wednesday, they will begin deliberating whether a Texas man convicted of murder should live or die.

The sentencing phase in the trial of Eric Campbell began Tuesday.

Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, was found guilty last month for robbing and murdering a Granville County, North Carolina couple. Jermome Faulkner, 73, and Dora Faulkner, 62, were killed inside their home on Dec. 31, 2014.

Campbell and his father, Edward Campbell, were arrested in Greenbrier County, W.Va. the next day following a shoot out with State Police. Edward Campbell later killed himself in prison.

Throughout the nearly 2 month long trial, the defense repeatedly painted Edward Campbell as an abusive father. They said Eric went on the trip with his father from Texas to West Virginia to improve their relationship. Eric told the jury last month his father killed the Faulkners, not him. He said he believed Edward Campbell was only going to rob the couple, not kill them.

Tuesday's hearing included testimony from Campbell's family and friends from Texas. Defense attorney William Durham told the jury during closing arguments every witness described Eric Campbell as a "kind" person.

"They all agreed that Eric Campbell is not a sociopath. He's not someone who routinely acts mean and then violates the rights of others. Everyone, of all parts of his life, says he treats others with kindness," Durham said. "Despite all that abuse, despite all the vicious things that Eric Campbell suffered at the hands of his father, it did not crush all the good from him.

The defense asked the jury to grant Campbell life with mercy.

"We believe this case calls for life because of who Eric Campbell was, who he could've been without that common denominator interfering and who he will be for the rest of his life," said Amos Tyndall, another defense attorney.

Prosecutors are asking jurors to impose the death penalty.

"I ask you to do justice by the Faulkners, to do justice by their family, to do justice by this community," said Granville County, North Carolina District Attorney Mike Waters.

During closing arguments, prosecutors reminded the jury Campbell made a "conscious choice and deliberate decision" to be involved with the crime. Earlier in the trial, prosecutors said Campbell was with his father before the murders when he purchased chemicals, gasoline and other items that were used to destroy the Faulkners home. The Campbells put the Faulkners' bodies inside a stolen truck and set the house on fire.

"He knew the gravity of all of this," Waters said. "So ladies and gentlemen it's not the decision that you are making. The choice is his. It's a choice he made long ago."

Allison Capps, Assistant District Attorney in Granville County, N.C., said Campbell did not give the Faulkners a chance to live, so he should not be allowed to live either.

"I want you to ask yourself: When on December 31, 2014 did the defendant do anything to speak life over Jerome Faulkner or Dora Faulker? The evidence shows that all there was was death there that night," Capps said.

Waters said this was an organized murder.

"This course of conduct began in Texas with a plan. They came here to this community where they were out of money, out of gas and they decided to pick on people that they thought could not defend themselves," he said.

The defense said no matter what the verdict is, Campbell will never live a normal life again. He will either remain locked up or be put to death.

"He'll never again walk on a beach. He will never get married, never have children. He will spend every night of the rest of his life in a place none of us would want to spend a single night," Durham said. "I believe that there is some room in your heart for some mercy for Eric Campbell."

Unlike West Virginia, North Carolina is 1 of 31 states with a death penalty. Capps encouraged the jury to "follow the law" and to do the right thing.

"We know it's going to be hard, but that is your duty," she said.

The jury meets again at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

(source: wvmetronews.com)

GEORGIA----impending execution

Juror sentenced killer to death because he was black, appeal contends

Attorneys for condemned killer Keith Tharpe are trying to halt his Sept. 26 execution with arguments that a juror on the case was racist and voted for death because Tharpe was African-American.

The now-deceased juror, Barney Gattie, once said, "After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls," court filings say.

Gattie later backed off his statements, and Tharpe's juror bias claims have gone nowhere. They previously were rejected by state court judges and, just a week ago, a federal judge in Macon denied a motion to reopen the case.

Tharpe's legal team is now appealing that decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Tharpe sits on death row for committing particularly heinous crimes after his wife left him and moved in with her parents. On the morning of Sept. 25, 1990, instead of obeying a court order to stay away from his wife, Tharpe intercepted her and her sister-in-law as they drove to work in Jones County.

Tharpe forced the car to stop, pulled out a shotgun and took his sister-in-law, Jacqueline Freeman, to the rear of the car. He shot her, rolled her into a ditch, reloaded and shot her again, killing her.

Tharpe then raped his wife on the side of the road and drove her to Macon, telling her to take money out of her credit union account. Instead, she called police and Tharpe was soon arrested.

His capital trial was held about 100 days later, a short amount of time unheard of today. The jury unanimously sentenced Tharpe to death.

Claims of alleged racial bias of one of the jurors surfaced 8 years later when Gattie, a retired truck driver with 8 children, signed an affidavit that expressed his views.

In the affidavit, Gattie described himself as "an upfront, plainspoken man," and he said his wife had warned him about using racial slurs when talking to African-Americans.

Freeman, the murder victim, came from a family of "nice black folks," Gattie said. "If they had been the type Tharpe is, then picking between life and death for Tharpe wouldn't have mattered so much. My feeling is, what would be the difference?"

Gattie said he felt Tharpe, "who wasn't in the 'good' black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did." (Georgia has changed its method of execution to lethal injection since Tharpe's 1990 trial.)

Gattie also said, "In my experience, there are 2 types of black people: 1. Black folks and 2. (racial slurs)," he said.

Gattie's statements were included in an affidavit he signed May 25, 1998, and which was prepared by Tharpe's lawyers after they interviewed him. The affidavit immediately caught the attention of the state Attorney General's Office.

Just 2 days later, Gattie signed a 2nd affidavit, one prepared by a lawyer for the state. It largely contradicted his prior affidavit.

"I believe Keith Tharpe was a cold, calculated murderer," Gattie said. "I did not vote to impose the death penalty because he was a black man."

At no time, Gattie said, did he utter a racial slur during jury deliberations. As for signing the March 25, 1998, affidavit, Gattie said he'd been drinking beer and whiskey and didn't pay much attention when it was read to him.

"I just wanted to get rid of them," Gattie said of Tharpe's lawyers. "Many of my statements were taken out of context and simply not accurate."

5 months later, Gattie gave sworn testimony before a state court judge, answering questions from lawyers for the state and the defense. Gattie admitted he used racial slurs, but not in a bigoted context.

"It was used in the terms that you are a white (racial slur) or a black (racial slur)," he said. "If you commit a crime or you do wrong and you don't work and you don't do that, that is the term I have used it in."

Gattie insisted, "I am not against blacks."

Tharpe's lawyers filed new motions after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March that courts can examine what happened in a jury room when there are showings that racial prejudice played a role in deliberations.

But Senior U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal in Macon recently rejected the claims. Royal noted that 10 other jurors in the Tharpe case testified and that all said racial animus played no part in their deliberations.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court said a case can be reopened only when "a juror makes a clear statement that he ... relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant."

But in Tharpe's case, "There is absolutely no indication that Gattie, or anyone else, brought up race during the jury deliberations," Royal wrote. "It was more than 7 years later, and possibly when he was intoxicated, that Gattie made his racist statements."

Tharpe's lawyers are now asking the 11th Circuit to consider the juror misconduct claim.

"(A) grotesque perversion of justice ... results when a death sentence, such as Mr. Tharpe's, is imposed as a result of a juror's racially biased views," their motion said.

(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

OHIO----impending execution

U.S. Supreme Court rejects delay in Ohio inmate's execution

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a condemned Ohio killer's last-minute attempt to delay his execution.

Justice Elena Kagan said in a Tuesday night order the court had denied the request by Gary Otte.

Otte is scheduled to die Wednesday in the state death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

The 45-year-old inmate still has a final appeal before the state Supreme Court, arguing he shouldn't be put to death because of his age at the time of the crime. The court didn't indicate when it would rule, although an early morning decision Wednesday was likely.

Otte was 20 when he killed Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura in suburban Cleveland in 1992.

(source: Associated Press)

***************************

Has the death penalty outlived its usefulness in Ohio?

The state of Ohio is set to execute its second death row inmate this year on Wednesday, at a time when the cost of executions is high and public sentiment continues to shift.

Gary Otte, a Terre Haute, Indiana man who robbed and murdered two Parma residents in 1992, is set to die by lethal injection. His execution will follow the death of Akron child killer Ronald Phillips in July.

Every execution breathes new life into the debate over whether the death penalty is necessary.

As it stands, state prosecutors in Ohio will continue to weigh the interests of the families of the victims and the public when they decide whether to pursue the death penalty. But challenges in obtaining drugs, as well as problems with drugs the state uses, have combined with due process and legal challenges to delay executions.

Phillips' execution came after the state ceased executing people for more than 2 1/2 years. This came after it took inmate Dennis McGuire an unusually long time to die when the state injected him with a previously unused combination of drugs.

Following McGuire's death, the state searched for and found a new 3-drug combination. But that plan led to a who new slew of legal challenges. While the state prevailed in its legal fight, it was a long, drawn-out battle.

Still, such legal fights have become the norm in advance of a scheduled execution. Attorneys for death row inmates draft numerous court documents to try to either halt an execution or overturn the sentence altogether. Those filings tend to become more voluminous as execution dates near.

The state that executes an inmate must also respond to those motions. And judges, be them state or federal, usually address them.

When factoring in the cost of housing inmates and the precautions needed to carry out executions, a February 2014 story by the Dayton Daily News estimated that Ohio spends close to $17 million a year in costs associated with the death penalty.

In addition, the results of a Pew Research Center poll released in September 2016 showed that nationwide support for the death penalty is at its lowest point in more than 4 decades. 49 % of Americans favor the death penalty for murderers, while 42 % oppose it.

Support dropped 7 % since March 2015, the results say.

A poll on the sentiment of Ohio residents on the death penalty appears to have been released by Quinnipiac University in May 2014. When respondents were asked if they favored or opposed the death penalty for murderers, 69 % favored it, while 25 % said they opposed it.

When respondents were asked to choose between the death penalty, life in prison without parole or life in prison with parole possible, the results were much closer.

*********************

National anti-death-penalty advocate calls for stop to execution of Ohio killer

A nun who is a well-known advocate against the death penalty took to Twitter on Tuesday, imploring Ohio Gov. John Kasich to halt the scheduled execution of convicted killer Gary Otte on Wednesday morning.

Sister Helen Prejean sent out several tweets Tuesday evening, arguing that Otte has an IQ of only 85 and suffers from "severe mental illness."

"The death penalty is supposedly reserved for the 'worst of the worst,'" Prejean said in 1 of the tweets. "Gary Otte is an impaired, damaged man, not the 'worst of the worst.'"

Prejean said it's possible to remember Otte's victims, Robert Wasikowski, a worker for the city of Broadview Heights, and Sharon Kostura, a 45-year-old American Greetings employee, without killing Otte.

"You can stop this cycle of violence, Gov. John Kasich," she said.

Otte shot Wasikowski, 61, in the head after talking his way into the man's apartment on Feb. 12, 1992, at the Pleasant Lake apartment complex in Parma. Otte took $413.

The next day, Otte killed Kostura after he forced his way into her apartment at the same complex. He stole $45, Kostura's car keys and her checkbook.

A 3-judge panel, which presided over Otte's trial in lieu of a jury, found Otte guilty of 2 counts of aggravated murder and other crimes later that year. He received death sentences for both killings in October 1992.

Otte's lawyers recently argued to the Ohio Parole Board that his life should be spared because he was repeatedly bullied as a child and that bullying led to drug and alcohol use and depression, which led him to commit his crimes.

The parole board rejected that argument and others, saying he had a good upbringing with a loving family. Kasich upheld that ruling on Sept. 1.

Lawyers for Otte on Tuesday filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court hoping to delay the execution so they can argue that he was too young at the time of the crimes to be put to death. Otte was 20 when he killed Wasikowski and Kostura.

The last-ditch request to the Ohio Supreme Court came a few hours after a lower court rejected an appeal.

Late Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute request from Otte to delay the execution.

Prejean is a Roman Catholic nun based in the Congregation of St. Joseph in New Orleans. She is a nationally known opponent of the death penalty and in 1993 published "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty". In 1995 it was released as a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.

(source for both: cleveland.com)

INDIANA:

Poorly executed----Inmate challenges state's lethal cocktail change

In its 201-year history, Indiana has used 3 methods of execution. Hanging was the primary method until 1913, followed by electrocution. In 1995, the Department of Correction began using lethal injec-tion - a protocol soon to be reviewed by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Vacating a ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals, the state's highest court rightly will take up the question of whether the department has overstepped its authority in changing its procedures for carrying out the death penalty. The Supreme Court will independently review facts in a case challenging the Department of Correction's 2014 decision to use a new 3-drug combination in lethal injections.

A lawsuit filed by a death row inmate argues the DOC can't change its execution protocol without public notice or comment. The appeals court agreed in a unanimous ruling and effectively halted executions in the state. They are likely on hold while the Supreme Court reviews the case.

12 men are currently on death row in Indiana, and 1 woman is being held in Ohio under Indiana's death penalty law. No executions are scheduled due to prior court rulings or pending appeals. Joseph Corcoran, sentenced to death in 1999 for killing 4 people in a house on Bayer Avenue, is the only Allen County inmate. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he has exhausted his appeals.

The appeals court decision challenging the Department of Correction was a victory for Roy Ward and other death row prisoners who argue they should not be executed with experimental drugs. The department unilaterally decided 2 years ago to use a 3-drug combination of the barbiturate methohexital, followed by pancuronium bromide, a paralytic, followed by potassium chloride to stop the prisoner's heart. The combination allegedly has not been used in any other execution in the United States.

The department claimed authority to change its lethal injection procedure as an internal policy, but the appeals court agreed with the plaintiff that the decision was an administrative rule with the effect of law, which must be adopted under the guidelines of the Indiana Administrative Rules and Procedure Act.

"(T)he public has a right to know what unelected bureaucrats at state agencies are doing," said attorney David Frank, who represented Ward before the appeals court. The decision doesn't mean Indiana cannot carry out executions, but it brings what the state is doing "out of the shadows" and holds state officials accountable, he said.

It is not known whether the state has a sufficient supply of each drug to carry out an execution. The Indiana General Assembly, in the biennial budget bill, authorized Gov. Eric Holcomb and the department to grant anonymity to drugmakers that agree to supply the drugs. A nationwide shortage exists because pharmaceutical companies, under pressure from death-penalty opponents, are refusing to sell their drugs for execution purposes.

A federal appeals court cleared the way earlier this year for the state of Ohio to use a 3-drug mixture in lethal injections, although death-penalty opponents have said they will ask the Supreme Court to review that decision.

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun famously criticized the process of administering the death penalty as tinkering with "the machinery of death." The decision before Indiana's highest court might well amount to tinkering but - as the law of the land here and in 30 other states - it deserves solemn and serious consideration.

(source: Editorial, Journal-Gazette)

MISSOURI:

5 retired judges will lead an inquiry into the death penalty case of Marcellus Williams.

5 retired judges will lead an inquiry into the death penalty case of Marcellus Williams.

Gov. Eric Greitens appointed the board of inquiry Tuesday to consider whether Williams should be executed for the 1998 death of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Lisha Gayle. Greitens issued a stay of execution in August just hours before Williams was to be executed.

The board members are Booker Shaw, who served on the Missouri Court of Appeals and as a trial judge in St. Louis; Michael David, a former circuit court judge in St. Louis; Peggy McGraw Fenner, a former circuit court judge in Jackson County; Carol Jackson, who served on the U.S. District Court, Eastern District; and Paul Spinden, who was on the Missouri Court of Appeals.

(source: Associated Press)

UTAH:

It's time for Utah to re-examine the death penalty

Debate and discourse in the public sphere is how we make better policy. We at Utah Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty have heard from people across the state that it's time for a more robust public debate about the death penalty. Long gone are the days where the death penalty was a partisan issue. Now, Utahns of every political background are expressing concerns about a death penalty system that takes a great deal of time, energy and resources and gives us little more than worry in return.

A close examination shows that the death penalty runs counter to many core conservative ideals. We're thrilled to be able to unite conservatives who oppose or question the death penalty. By raising the profile of this life-and-death issue, we can help our state move toward better policy.

Over the last couple of years, we've had the opportunity to attend numerous Republican Party conventions, Lincoln Day Dinners and other political and community events. The supportive reception isn't surprising. This is an issue that many conservatives have thought long and hard about and ultimately concluded that it runs counter to their beliefs of limited government, protecting innocent life and being fiscally responsible.

A poll we took earlier this year quantified what we've been experiencing in these discussions: 64 % of Utahns, including 58 % of Republicans, supported replacing the death penalty with life in prison. When the arguments are laid out, it's not hard to see why.

As conservatives, we constantly rail against an ever-growing government. The death penalty is about as big as the government gets. Can the government be trusted to justly end a person's life? Nationally, since the late 1970s, almost 160 individuals have been exonerated from death row due to evidence of their innocence. In that same time there have been around 1,500 executions. An error rate of 10 % is 10 % too high when an innocent person's life hangs in the balance.

Thanks to television shows like "CSI," people are under the impression that the system is error-proof because of the rise in DNA evidence and testing. The reality is that DNA evidence is only available in 5-10 % of these kinds of cases. As conservatives, our belief in the sanctity of innocent life should extend to death row. Justice can't ever be served when even 1 innocent person is wrongfully executed.

The death penalty is consistently more expensive than life in prison because of the additional preparations for a capital case, the separate sentencing phase and post-conviction appeals. According to Utah's own Legislative Fiscal Analyst's Office, it costs in excess of $1.6 million more to carry out a death sentence than if the same person were sentenced to life and ultimately died in prison.

Limited taxpayer resources could, and should, be spent in our criminal justice system in much better ways. These resources could be spent on mental health programs, rehabilitation of nonviolent offenders, rape kit testing or many other criminal justice programs that would keep us much safer than the death penalty does. Instead, we spend it on a punishment with no greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment, which often takes 30 years or more to reach a resolution.

While capital cases slowly snake through the judicial process, there's more than a fiscal cost - there's a human cost. Families of crime victims are brought along for the decadeslong process. Instead of being able to move forward with their lives, these families must wait through decades of high-profile appeals, all while being forgotten as their loved one's murderer becomes a household name. This is cruelty.

Utah Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty will continue having these conversations with the public. Utah came very close to repealing the death penalty during the 2016 legislative session, and weíre hoping that fight is won during the 2018 session next year.

(source: Op-Ed; Darcy Van Orden is executive director of the Utah Justice Coalition, an organization dedicated to educating the community on commonsense reforms to the criminal justice system. Utah Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty is a project of UJC----Deseret News)

IDAHO:

Judge denies request to send death penalty case back to lower court

A district judge on Friday denied a request to send a potential death penalty case back to a lower court for a man accused of breaking into his estranged wife's house and shooting a man to death.

Phillip Cabrera, 38, of Meridian, is facing a charge of 1st-degree murder in the shooting death of Andrew Shepard of Caldwell on April 28.

Cabrera's defense attorney, Scott Fouser, requested the case be sent back to magistrate court for another preliminary hearing because he said Cabrera was denied the benefit of 2 qualified lawyers during his original preliminary hearing in June.

Fouser said defendants facing the death penalty require 2 qualified defenders at hearings, and Cabrera had only 1 during his preliminary hearing in June.

Judge Thomas Ryan, who previously said in a hearing that "clearly delay is prejudice," decided Friday to deny the request.

"There has been no showing of any error, let alone serious error committed by defense counsel at the preliminary hearing," Ryan wrote. "This Court specifically finds that Mr. Cabrera was afforded effective assistance of counsel at the preliminary hearing."

Cabrera's pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21. A jury trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 10.

Police said Cabrera admitted to kicking down the front door of his wife's home in Nampa, then kicking down the home's master bathroom door before shooting Shepard in the abdomen and head. He is also accused of firing several shots at responding police officers.

Prosecutors say Cabrera killed Shepard in front of young children who were hiding in the master bedroom with Shepard and Cabrera's wife.

(source: idahopress.com)

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A shrinking pool

Jurors who failed to pass muster on the 1st day of the Jonathan Renfro murder trial walked from the Kootenai County Courthouse 1 at a time Monday as they were released from jury duty.

About 80 of the more than 900 jurors who responded to a jury duty questionnaire appeared in the morning at Coeur d'Alene's First District Court to begin the weaning process that will result in 16 jurors, including four alternates.

More than 40 people were released from their jury duty before 10 a.m. after being deemed by presiding First District Court Judge Lansing Haynes as unsatisfactory candidates based on their answers to questions by attorneys. That left approximately 40 potential jurors to be further scrutinized by Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh and lead defense counsel Keith Roark, who whittled the number of candidates down to about 20 by lunchtime.

The remaining candidates were questioned individually.

The same process will continue each day this week. Once 44 candidates are chosen, attorneys will continue to winnow until they agree on 16 jurors, Jury Commissioner Pete Barnes said.

Seating a fair and impartial jury could last 2 weeks, but attorneys and the court have intimated a jury could be chosen sooner than that, Barnes said.

"I think that's the hope," he said.

Renfro, who is charged with 1st-degree murder for allegedly killing Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore, is expected to go to trial as soon as the selection process is completed. The trial could last through September.

Jurors who make the final cut will participate in 2 phases of the upcoming trial.

In the guilt phase, jurors must determine if Renfro, 29, is responsible for the May 5, 2015, shooting death of Moore. Renfro is accused of shooting the officer with a Glock pistol he had in his pocket when Moore confronted him after dark in a Coeur d'Alene neighborhood where residents had reported burglaries and vandalism.

If he's convicted, Renfro could face the death penalty. But it is not up to the judge. Jurors must also determine during the trial's penalty phase whether factors warrant a death sentence. By Monday, the penalty phase had already resulted in the release of potential jurors including candidates who said they morally opposed the death penalty, and those who thought the death penalty should always be imposed.

One of the candidates at Monday's jury selection was released after telling the court of his 3rd-party acquaintance with the Moore family, and that his friends have K27 stickers on their cars. The stickers are a tribute to Moore.

Another candidate said because the shooting had occurred near his neighborhood, he has closely followed media accounts.

A candidate who said many of his friends were police officers told the court he felt an allegiance to law enforcement.

Haynes reiterated a juror's opinion was less important than whether he or she could base their decision solely on the facts presented in court.

"In a case like this, unless you haven't been paying attention at all, everyone comes into court with some opinion about the matter," Haynes said. "The issue is whether you can follow the court's instruction ... and set aside that opinion."

Renfro, who appeared in court wearing slacks, a white shirt, tie and black-framed glasses, quietly watched the proceedings surrounded by his team of attorneys.

Once the trial begins, the court has opted to adjourn at noon each Wednesday, taking Wednesday afternoons off, Haynes said.

(source: cdapress.com)

TANZANIA:

I cannot 'execute' convicted murderers - Tanzania's president declares

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has stated clearly that he cannot assent to an execution of the death penalty which is legal in the East African country.

He said on Monday during the swearing in of Chief Justice Ibrahim Hamis Juma in Dar es Salaam, that he cannot make that "difficult decision" on the execution of convicted murderers.

"I know there are people who convicted of murder and waiting for death penalty, but please don't bring the list to me for decision because I know how difficult it is to execute," he said.

Tanzania's Penal Code, Cap 16 stipulates the death penalty for serious offenses like murder and treason.

According to the Tanzanian NGO Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC), 472 people were sentenced to death in 2015 and among them are 20 women.

The Executive Director of LHRC, Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, commended the president for his stance but demanded that he goes further to abolish the penalty.

"We need the abolition of this penalty due to the fact that it canít be implemented; in this case, it should be wise for the judges to change punishment from death to life imprisonment or sentenced to 30 and above years in jail," she was quoted by local media Azania Post.

Only about 20 countries countries have abolished the death penalty with Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan still practicing executions.

Tanzania last executed a convict in 1994.

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Rights Body Commends Magufuli's Stance On Death Sentence

The Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC) has commended President John Magufuli's stance on the execution of a death sentence.

During the Swearing in of the Chief Justice (CJ) Prof Ibrahim Juma at State House on Monday September 11, President Magufuli said he is not going to sign any death penalty certificate.

The LHRC Executive Director, Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, said the Head of State's statement was encouraging, however, he should influence changes of the law to abolish the punishment or provide lighter ones.

"The 3rd and 4th phase president's position on death sentence was known in spite of the fact that they didn't declare publicly. President Magufuli has publicly declared his position, but he should go beyond that," she said adding:

"The Head of State should influence changes to relieve judges and magistrates with difficulties they at the time of making rulings."

Meanwhile, LHRC has condemned assassination attempt against Singida East MP on Chadema ticket Tundu Lissu.

Dr Bisimba said Mr Lissu's attack has raised concern on the country's security. The rights group has recorded a total of 37 peace threatening incidents since 2015.

Therefore, she suggested that an independent commission of inquiry should be formed by the Parliament and international organs to comprehensively investigate the matter.

"Also, people implicated in previous attacks should be arrested and prosecuted. The legal profession should be left to freely fulfill its duties and that clerics should condemn attacks with all efforts," she said.

Mr Lissu who is also the President of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) and Opposition Chief Whip is now admitted at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi Kenya where he was referred after surviving gunshots.

(source for both: africanews.com)

MALDIVES:

UN urges independent judiciary for Maldivians

The United Nations had called out for a transparent and indiscriminate judicial system in Maldives.

Speaking during the 36th session of the Human Rights Council of UN, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zaid Ra'ad Al Hussain confirmed of receiving several complaints and concerning reports of Maldivians being stripped from their constitutional rights and civil liberties.

He expressed his grave concern regarding the matter.

He also stressed his concern regarding the dubious conduct of other judicial bodies and authorities in Maldives - in which he emphasized the breach of Maldives National Defense Force officials into parliament chambers and disqualification of lawmakers under absurd conditions.

Hussain had once again reiterated his call to Maldives not to re-commence death penalty as capital punishment.

(source: avas.mv)

LEBANON:

Death penalty calls for Hamoush killer

Beirut's 1st investigative judge, Ghassan Oweidat issued an indictment Tuesday in the murder case of Roy Hamoush, requesting the death penalty for the perpetrators. Mohammed Al-Ahmar and 2 others were arrested shortly after killing the 24-year-old student. Hamoush was shot dead on the Dora highway, north of Beirut, in early June. That night, Roy had just finished celebrating his birthday and was headed home with a friend when a traffic dispute broke out between them and 3 armed men in a BMW. Adnan Jamal Ghandour and Hani Mohammed Al-Mawla have also been charged with attempted murder.

(source: The Daily Star)

IRAQ:

Iraqi court sentences Russian accused of IS ties to death penalty media----The Russian was arrested by the Iraqi security forces during an operation to liberate western Mosul from the IS group

Iraq's supreme judicial panel on Tuesday sentenced a Russian citizen to death, who is accused of having ties with the Islamic State terrorist group, Al Sumaria TV channel reported.

A spokesman for the Council, Abdul Sattar al-Birqadar, said the Russian citizen was also accused of ties to the al-Zarqawi Battalion, one of groups part of the Islamic State, outlawed in Russia. The militant admitted that he carried out several terrorist attacks against Iraq's security forces in 2015, the spokesman said.

The Russian was arrested by the republic's security forces during an operation to liberate western Mosul from the IS group, he said. The capital punishment was imposed in line with Iraq's anti-terrorism law.

(source: tass.com)

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017:

VIRGINIA:

Suspect in 1975 slayings of sisters expected to plead guilty

A man charged with killing 2 young sisters from Maryland is expected to plead guilty Tuesday, more than 4 decades after the girls vanished during a trip to a local shopping mall.

Lloyd Lee Welch Jr., 60, is scheduled to appear in a Virginia court Tuesday. Welch is accused of snatching 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katherine Lyon in March 1975. Authorities believe he burned the girls' bodies on a remote mountain in Bedford County, Virginia, where his family owned land. They were never recovered.

The 1st-degree felony murder charges carry the possibility of a death sentence, but it wasn't known before the hearing if prosecutors had agreed not to pursue the death penalty in exchange for Welch's guilty pleas.

He was scheduled to go on trial Tuesday, but his trial request was withdrawn last week. The Washington Post reported that Welch plans to plead guilty in an agreement that will also resolve 2 unrelated sexual assault cases against him.

Welch is already serving a long prison term in Delaware for sexually molesting a 10-year-old girl.

The Lyon sisters' disappearance shattered the sense of security in Kensington, Maryland, rattling parents to the point where they no longer let their children play outside or walk to Wheaton Plaza.

"It deeply affected everybody in a very large radius within the D.C. suburbs. People always wanted to know who did this, who was this person, what happened?" said Teresa Brookland, a former schoolmate who remembers Katherine as sweet and friendly.

Harry Geehreng, a retired Montgomery County police sergeant who searched the mall and surrounding woods for the sisters after they disappeared, said it took a couple of days for it to sink in that the girls may have been abducted because it was a sleepy area with little crime back then.

"It was just an innocent time and people never thought the worst," Geehreng said. "Just the idea that a total stranger absconded with these 2 little girls, it was really beyond belief. People were genuinely shocked."

Cold case detectives began focusing on Welch in 2013 after they noticed a composite sketch that resembled a 1977 mug shot of Welch in a burglary near Wheaton Plaza.

When the girls disappeared, Welch was an 18-year-old former worker at a traveling carnival.

A friend of the girls told police she saw a young man leering at them and following them in the mall. Based on her description, a detective drew a composite sketch of a young man with long hair and facial scars from acne.

Police didn't release the drawing to the public because they were focused on another sketch based on descriptions from witnesses who said they saw the sisters talking to an older man who had a microphone and cassette recorder. After the sketch of the older man was made public, Welch told a security guard at the mall that he seen the sisters leave with that man. Police interviewed Welch but released him because they believed he was trying to get the $9,000 reward being offered.

In interviews with police beginning in 2013, Welch acknowledged he was at the mall that day and said he believed they'd been "abducted, raped and burned up," according to court documents.

He was charged in their deaths 2 years ago.

(source: therepublic.com)

GEORGIA----impending execution

Georgia set to execute man even though juror admitted he always backed death penalty for 'n*ggers'

The state of Georgia is set to execute a black man convicted of murder this month, despite the fact that one of the jurors in his trial admitted to voting for the death penalty if defendants were "n*ggers."

Via anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, Georgia has scheduled 59-year-old Keith Leroy Tharpe's execution for September 26, almost 27 years to the day after he murdered his sister-in-law and attempted to kidnap his wife after she had left him 1 month earlier.

As recounted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tharpe's attorneys have argued that his death sentence should be thrown out because one juror in the trial showed extreme racial prejudice toward him.

Specifically, the juror told lawyers after the trial had ended that he believed there were 2 type of African Americans: "Good black folks" and "n*ggers." The juror claimed that he saw Tharpe as an example of the latter, although he said the family of Tharpe's victim was an example of "good" black people.

In fact, the juror said that if Tharpe's victim's family "had been the type Tharpe is, then picking between life or death for Tharpe wouldn't have mattered as much."

Tharpe's attorneys have tried to use this juror's account to reopen his case, but so far courts have refused. While there doesn't seem to be any question about Tharpe's guilt, there is question over whether racial prejudice was responsible for the jury handing down a sentence that would not have been given to a white man convicted of the same crime.

(source: rawstory.com)

OHIO----impending execution

Lawyer says Ohio man set to die for 2 murders will not appeal ruling in case

A lawyer for a convicted Ohio killer scheduled to died Wednesday says his client won't appeal a judge's ruling rejecting arguments that the state's three-drug lethal injection process is unconstitutional.

Federal Judge Michael Merz said Friday that inmate Gary Otte still hasn't proved he would experience pain after being injected with Midazolam, the first drug in the lethal injection process.

Federal public defender Vicki Werneke said Monday that no appeal would be filed. She declined to further comment.

The decision means Otte's last appeal involves an argument before a state appeals court that he shouldn't be put to death because at the time of the crime he was only 20.

Otte was sentenced to die for the Feb. 12, 1992, killing of Robert Wasikowski and the Feb. 13, 1992, killing of Sharon Kostura.

Both slayings took place in Parma, in suburban Cleveland.

The state plans to execute the 45-year-old Otte on Wednesday.

Ohio put the killer of a 3-year-old girl to death in July, the 1st execution in more than 3 years after a delay caused by a drug shortage.

(source: Associated Press)

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Gary Otte Writes Essay on Drug Addiction Days Before Scheduled Execution in Ohio

Convicted killer Gary Otte is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday. The state of Ohio resumed its death penalty protocol in July with the execution of Ronald Phillips, following a 3-year hiatus riddled with legal controversy. Beyond Otte, there are more than 2 dozen state inmates scheduled to die in the next several years.

But as The Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School reported recently, Otte and many of those other inmates brought a history of abuse and mental impairment to their time on death row. Otte, who committed his 2 murders at age 20, began using drugs and drinking alcohol at 10. He attempted suicide at 14.

With that backdrop in mind, Otte penned an essay on drug addiction in his final days. Splinter ran the letter, which we've embedded below as well.

The essay came as a response to Hamilton Nolan's request for his "Letters from Death Row" series. "You wrote to me a while back," Otte wrote in his letter to Nolan. "I recently put together a few words about overcoming our growing drug epidemic. You are welcome to share it. It is a first draft and deserves 200+ pages more, but it is worth the look."

It's a worthwhile perspective on the growing opiate overdose crisis in the U.S. Otte speaks directly to the social stigma that continues to surround drug addiction and the demonization of addicts.

"Hiding people in prisons doesn't make our problems go away," he writes.

(source: clevescene.com)

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As 2nd Execution Approaches, Advocates Say They'll Keep Pushing To Stop Capital Punishment

Ohio's 2nd execution in 2 months is set to proceed on Wednesday, when Gary Otte of Indiana is scheduled to be executed for 2 murders in Parma near Cleveland in 1992. But those opposed to capital punishment says they're not done fighting.

Anti-death penalty advocates say they've been expecting executions to go forward after they failed to stop Ronald Phillips' execution in July. Phillips was put to death with a never-before-tried mixture of drugs, and had no complications. Kevin Werner with Ohioans to Stop Executions said he's also concerned about studies showing many death row inmates are mentally ill or victims of abuse. "When you take a close look at Ohio is actually executing, we're back to sort of the most vulnerable people in our society," Werner said.

Gov. John Kasich agreed with the parole board's unanimous recommendation to deny clemency to Gary Otte. After Otte, 25 men are on Ohio's execution schedule over the next 5 years - more than in any other state.

(source: WVXU news)

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Cuyahoga County Judge Calls on Legislators to Stop Ignoring Death Penalty Reform

Gov. John Kasich recently denied clemency to an Indiana man sentenced to die for 2 murders in Parma. The advocacy group Ohioans To Stop Executions held a forum last week in downtown Cleveland to discuss the future of the death penalty in Ohio.

Joe D'Ambrosio spent more than 20 years on death row for the 1988 murder of Tony Klann. After a district judge found county prosecutors withheld evidence, D'Ambrosio became the 6th person to be exonerated since the death penalty was reinstated in Ohio in 1974.

Cuyahoga County's top judge, John Russo, served on a joint task force that recommended more than 50 ways to improve accuracy and fairness in death penalty cases. These included protections for inmates with mental illnesses. Russo says they've been ignored by legislators.

"Very few of those 50-plus recommendations have been looked at, and yet we continue to impose the death penalty sentence and handing down executions," Russo said. "Somebody should take it off the shelf and start to look at it ... if we're going to continue to have the death penalty in the state of Ohio."

A study recently released by Harvard's Fair Punishment Project found most of Ohio's death row inmates are likely mentally ill. D'Ambrosio said those inmates are at a disadvantage.

"The sad thing is, most of the guys on death row have mental problems. How are they supposed to defend themselves?" D'Ambrosio said.

The next execution in Ohio, of 45-year-old Gary Otte, is scheduled for this week.

(source: WKSU news)

INDIANA:

High court agrees to decide future of Indiana's death penalty

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether the state's method of carrying out the death penalty can stand after the justices agreed to hold oral arguments in an appeal of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that voided the current death penalty protocol.

The high court unanimously granted transfer to the case of Roy Ward v. Robert E. Carter, Jr., et al., 46S03-1709-PL-569, last week. In that case, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in June that the Department of Correction's failure to enact new lethal-injection protocols under the Administrative Rules and Procedure Act, subject to public comment, made the death penalty protocol adopted in May 2014 "void and without effect." That protocol included a 3-drug cocktail that has not yet been used in any state or federal execution.

"Finding the General Assembly has not exempted the DOC from ARPA and that the statutory definition of 'rule' clearly includes the DOC's execution protocols, we reverse," Judge John Baker wrote in the June opinion, referencing a previous dismissal of the case by the LaPorte Circuit Court.

The appellate court's ruling came after Roy Ward was sentenced to death for the 2001 rape and murder of 15-year-old Stacy Payne in Spencer County. Ward, who was sentenced in 2007, is 1 of 12 people on death row in Indiana.

At the time of the June 1 decision, a spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said Hill's office was disappointed with the decision. In its petition for review by the Supreme Court, the state argued the Court of Appeals panel "eschewed ... legislative judgment and substituted its own." Other legal experts said the decision left the future of the death penalty in Indiana in limbo. Oral arguments in the case have not yet been scheduled.

The high court also agreed to hear the case of B.A. v. State of Indiana, 49S02-1709-JV-567, in which delinquency findings were upheld against a 13-year-old who threatened to bomb his school. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in March that because an in-school interrogation of 13-year-old B.A. was led by a school official, it did not trigger a Miranda warning, so the trial court did not err in admitting the statements the teenager made during that interrogation.

Finally, the justices unanimously agreed to decide whether 3 counts of resisting law enforcement should be entered against a man who was convicted after a single incident.

In Brian L. Paquette v. State of Indiana, 63S04-1709-CR-570, Brian Paquette crossed a median while fleeing police officers in his car and struck 2 vehicles carrying a total of 4 passengers, 3 of whom were killed. Paquette was convicted on 3 counts of resisting law enforcement - 1 for each of his victims - but the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed in June, finding only 1 incident of resisting law enforcement had occurred.

The high court denied transfer to the case of Lucy Mundia v. Drendall Law Office, P.C., 71A05-1610-PL-2388, forcing a South Bend law firm to face a legal malpractice suit. Lucy Mundia filed a malpractice complaint against the Drendall Law Office after Stephen Drendall failed to file a tort claim notice on her behalf against the South Bend Police Department and St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office, which mistakenly released Mundia's husband, Edward Mwuara, from jail.

Mwuara had been arrested on suspicion of violating a protective order against Mundia's 6-year-old daughter, Shirley, but authorities misspelled his name upon his arrest. Thus, when a deputy prosecutor checked the protective order registry under the misspelled name, she found no active order, so Mwuara was released. He then attacked Mundia and Shirley, fatally wounding the young girl.

When Mundia brought her malpractice suit against the firm, Drendall claimed the police department and prosecutor's office were immune under the Indiana Tort Claims Act, so she could not have succeeded on her claims against them even if he had filed the tort claim. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment to Drendall, but the Indiana Court of Appeals found otherwise and ordered the case to continue to a malpractice trial. A divided Indiana Supreme Court agreed by denying transfer, though justices Mark Massa and Geoffrey Slaughter voted to grant transfer.

The high court denied transfer to 21 other cases last week.

(source: The Indiana Lawyer)

TENNESSEE:

Prosecutor: Accused told friend he kidnapped, raped Holly Bobo

The trial of one of the men charged with the 2011 murder, rape and kidnapping of Holly Bobo, a 20-year-old nursing student in Tennessee, began Monday with the testimony of the young woman's father.

Dana Bobo was at work when he got a call that his daughter had been kidnapped.

"Holly's been taken," Bobo said, remembering a call he received.

Bobo was the 1st witness called in the trial of Zachary Rye Adams, 33, 1 of 3 men charged in Bobo's death and disappearance.

Holly Bobo was reported missing April 13, 2011.

In opening statements Monday, assistant Shelby County (Tenn.) District Attorney Paul Hagerman said evidence and testimony will show that Zachary Adams told Jason Autry that he, Shayne Austin, and John Dylan Adams had kidnapped and raped Bobo. Austin was found dead in 2015

"Jason sees a blanket in the bed of Zach's truck. Thereís a body in the blanket," Hagerman said in opening statements.

Hagerman said Autry, who has been offered immunity to testify, will tell the jury that he asked Adams, "how did this (expletive) get in your truck?" and that Adams told him the 3 had abducted her.

Hagerman said Autry became "the leader" that morning, and when they went to throw Bobo's body in the Tennessee River, Bobo moved and made a noise. Hagerman said in opening statements that Adams then got a gun, and shot Bobo in the head.

Adams' defense attorney Jennifer Thompson said the investigation spanned years, and that police interviewed dozens of people in the case.

"It's kind of like drinking from a fire hose," she said. "You'll hear testimony that basically the police were called within minutes."

Through the years, police "basically interviewed every person in Decatur County," Thompson said.

She told jurors that police talked to Victor Dinsmore, another man who has been offered immunity to testify in the trial.

"He said, if you want to get anywhere with this case, you need to talk to Zach Adams' brother," Thompson said.

Thompson told the jury that Adams is not guilty of all the charges against him, and that he did not abduct, rape, or kill Bobo.

Bobo's boyfriend, Drew Scott, also testified before recess Monday morning.

Adams is facing charges of felony 1st-degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape in Bobo's death and abduction. If convicted, Adams could receive the death penalty.

The 20-year-old nursing student was last seen on April 13, 2011, at her home in Darden, Tenn., about 103 miles southwest of Nashville.

Her skull was found 3 years later, in September 2014, in northern Decatur County.

(source: USA Today)

*****************

Prosecutor: Defendant almost got away with it

Chilling details were revealed in the first day of the trial for the man accused of killing Decatur County nursing student Holly Bobo.

Opening statements began Monday morning in the death penalty case against Zach Adams.

Karen Bobo, Holly Bobo's mother, collapsed on the stand, saying she felt sick and couldn't breathe. The judge stopped court while she was led back into his chambers.

Karen Bobo had been testifying about what started as a routine morning in 2011. Holly Bobo was preparing for a day of nursing school when she disappeared from her family's backyard.

Prosecutors played the 911 call Karen Bobo made when she heard that her daughter had apparently been abducted.

"Somebody has my daughter," she said on the phone call.

Karen Bobo collapsed while looking at Holly Bobo's tattered purse. Court stopped for about half an hour.

In opening statements, prosecutors laid out what they say happened when the young woman was abducted, raped and murdered in 2011.

The state claims Adams abducted Holly Bobo from her parents' home. They say he raped her and thought he had killed her.

His co-defendant, Jason Autry, is expected to testify against him.

Autry told prosecutors that Adams admitted to kidnapping and raping Holly Bobo, then loaded her body in the back of his pickup truck in a blanket, thinking she was dead.

Autry wanted to gut her and throw her in the river so she didn't float.

Then, Holly Bobo made a sound, which is when Adams allegedly got his gun and shot her.

"He took her. He raped her. He killed her. He discarded her. He covered it up. He bragged about it. And he almost got away with it," prosecutor Paul Hagerman said during his opening statement.

Years later, Holly Bobo's skull and ribs were found in the woods near a cellphone tower.

Autry told investigators where to find the buried gun that was used as the murder weapon.

(source: columbiadailyherald.com)

OKLAHOMA:

Tulsa could hand down its 1st death sentence in 8 years as state moves to make woman's slaying a capital case

The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office on Monday filed its intent to seek the death penalty against a man accused in a young woman's strangulation death, marking the 1st time prosecutors have asked for the maximum sentence since 2012's Good Friday shootings.

Gregory Jerome Epperson, 41, is expected to appear in court Oct. 9 for arraignment before District Judge Doug Drummond on charges of 1st-degree murder in the March 20 homicide of 19-year-old Kelsey Tennant and assault against her boyfriend, Riley Allen, inside her east Tulsa apartment.

Epperson's case is the 1st death penalty case in Tulsa County under District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler's purview since his election in 2014.

If the case goes to trial and a jury unanimously recommends a death sentence, Epperson would be the first person in Tulsa County to face lethal injection since Raymond Johnson, who was sentenced to death in 2009 for the 2007 slayings of a woman and her baby.

In asking for a death sentence as an option against Epperson, Kunzweiler and Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray argue the beating and strangling of Tennant is especially atrocious, heinous or cruel.

Gray also pointed to a previous murder case against Epperson, which was dropped partly over evidence concerns, as a sign Epperson will likely continue to commit acts of violence and be a threat to society.

Allen told Gray during the preliminary hearing that Epperson attacked him from behind when he entered the apartment after Tennant had already been attacked there. Allen said he was able to break free from Epperson's attempts to choke him and managed to get outside the residence to ask his neighbor, a friend of Epperson's, for help.

Special Judge Deborrah Ludi-Leitch ordered Epperson to stand trial after a June 13 preliminary hearing. Since then his arraignment has been postponed twice while Epperson's legal team, provided to him as an indigent defendant, gathered evidence in hopes of dissuading the state from requesting capital punishment.

Defense attorney Brian Boeheim represented Epperson during his preliminary hearing, but on July 25 Drummond appointed attorneys Shena Burgess and Beverly Atteberry, who have experience in capital cases, after receiving word the state might file a bill of particulars.

Capital cases in Oklahoma

When prosecutors seek the death penalty against a defendant, they are required to submit a bill of particulars to the trial judge before trial court arraignment. As part of its process, the state will evaluate such areas as the strength of the case, the wishes of the victim's family and any mitigating evidence gathered by the defendant's attorneys, such as life history or cognitive issues.

Typically, both sides will have at least 2 attorneys in the courtroom. It's not yet clear which assistant district attorney, if anyone, will work with Gray on Epperson's case; he has never taken a death penalty case to trial.M

State law also mandates that those ordered to die are automatically entitled to appellate reviews of their convictions and sentences.

Kunzweiler's office considered the death penalty against 20-year-old Robert Bever, who was 18 when he and his brother Michael Bever were charged in the 2015 stabbing deaths of their parents and 3 siblings.

However, Robert Bever pleaded guilty and received consecutive life-without-parole sentences. Michael Bever, who was 16 when he was arrested, is statutorily ineligible for the death penalty.

A bill of particulars has not been filed since then-District Attorney Tim Harris did so in January 2013 against Jacob England and Alvin Watts. The 2 were charged with 1st-degree murder in 4 north Tulsa shootings on Good Friday in 2012, which prosecutors said targeted black people in a hate crime.

England and Watts took plea deals in exchange for prosecutors withdrawing the bill of particulars. They are serving life without parole. Burgess, who is one of a handful of death penalty-qualified attorneys in the area, handled Watts' case.

Tulsa County prosecutors have filed bills of particulars in 9 cases since 2007, 5 of which were resolved before trial with plea deals of life without parole. 2 of those resolutions were for England and Watts.

The last capital case that went to trial in Tulsa County was against Darren Price, who was charged with 2 counts of 1st-degree murder in the September 2011 Hicks Park homicides. A jury in 2014 recommended 2 life-without-parole terms, which prosecutors said at the time was possibly due to Price's young age - 19 - at the time of the incidents.

Harris' administration also sought the death penalty in 2012 against Zane Atchison and Joel Pina for the August 2011 deaths of 2 people in a reported murder-for-hire scheme.

Pina pleaded guilty in 2014 to amended charges of solicitation to commit murder and accessory after the fact. He received a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

Atchison took his case to a jury, which recommended life-without-parole sentences in 2013. He was sentenced in September of that year.

After Oklahoma's last execution in January 2015, when Charles Warner was put to death, questions and problems with the state's lethal injection protocol led to death row inmate Richard Glossip receiving a last-minute stay in September 2015. It effectively put a moratorium in place until 2018 as the Attorney General's Office said it will wait at least 150 days after receiving an updated lethal injection protocol from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to put any inmates on a schedule for execution.

The DOC has given no indication of its readiness to continue lethal injections as of the Attorney General's Office's Aug. 31 status report filed with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

(source: Tulsa World)

****************

Jurors asked if they could hand out death penalty in Alton Nolen case

The man prosecutors say beheaded his co-workers at a Moore food plant in 2014 appeared in court Monday but refused to participate.

Potential jurors were asked several questions not only about their prior knowledge of the case against Alton Nolen, but also if they were able to keep an open mind about punishment.

Nolen didn't say a word when he walked by KOCO 5, and he kept his head down, eyes closed and hands covering his face and ears while in a Cleveland County courtroom. District Attorney Greg Mashburn and Nolen's defense team questioned jurors about whether they can focus on what happens in the courtroom and not what they hear or read outside its walls.

"We're just looking for jurors, especially at this point, who can be fair and can consider all of the punishments," Mashburn said. "So that's what our questions have been."

Both sides asked candidates if they'd be willing to give Nolen the death penalty if he's convicted.

"And if it's something like they just really don't feel like they can do, or, as you heard some jurors always go with that option, they're just not appropriate for this case," Mashburn said.

The jury is expected to be selected by Wednesday, with opening statements starting as early as noon.

(source: KOCO news)

IDAHO:

Death sentences rare in Idaho

As Kootenai County begins its 1st possible death penalty case in more than a decade, a look at Idaho's death row shows few offenders in the Gem State ever face the ultimate punishment for their crimes.

Right now, 8 people await the death penalty in Idaho; 7 men wait at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution near Boise, 1 woman is in the Women's Correctional Center in Pocatello. None of the condemned committed their crimes in North Idaho.

Offenders on death row lead a sheltered existence. They're confined to their 12x7 foot cells 23 hours a day, with one hour each day to spend in an outdoor recreation yard. When escorted anywhere, their hands remained shackled.

Counties in Idaho cite rising cost and lengthy appeals as reasons for not seeking the death penalty more often. Death penalty cases are more complicated and include automatic appeals. It often takes decades for the sentence to be carried out.

1 man on death row in Idaho has been there since 1983.

Idaho has executed only 3 people since the death penalty was reinstated in the mid-1970s. A legislative study done in 2014 shows few county prosecutors seek the death penalty.

According to the study, of the 215 people charged with 1st degree murder over a 16-year period, the death penalty was sought in just 55 of them. Of those, only 7 were sentenced to death. More than 1/2 of the people sentenced to death since 1977 have had their death sentenced overturned and were given lesser sentences.

The last time the death penalty was on the table in Kootenai County was for child serial killer Joseph Duncan. He faced murder and kidnapping charges for killing a family in 2005 and abducting their 2 youngest children. Duncan took a plea deal in Kootenai County and was sentenced to death in federal court instead.

He is still on death row with no execution date set.

(source: KXLY news)

FRANCE:

France's final guillotine: 40 years since the end of the death penalty

On September 10, 1977, 40 years ago this week, France conducted its last execution. 4 years later capital punishment was abolished, thus ending the reign of the guillotine.

The man who was executed was Tunisian immigrant, Hamida Djandoubi. He was found guilty of torturing and killing a woman in Marseilles, France.

It's said that he lit her on fire, then strangled her and left her body in the countryside.

Djandoubi was believed to have been a depressed man who had lost part of his leg in an accident.

The case generated a great deal of attention throughout France. But despite Djandoubi's confession, the jury determined that there were no extenuating circumstances and he would go to the guillotine.

Over the centuries, there were many versions of execution, but the most infamous was the French guillotine.

The 1st person to have his head chopped off was highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier in 1792.

The execution was considered to be a success and the guillotine was continued to be used on political prisoners, the highest profile being King Louis XVI on January 21, 1793.

During the "Reign of Terror" from 1793 to 1794 the guillotine was taking heads sometimes at a rate of 300 a day.

The last public execution by guillotine was in 1939.

Djandoubi was the last execution, earning himself a place in history.

(source: euronews.com)

BELARUS:

Belarus should decide on death penalty on its own

Belarus should decide on the issue of death penalty independently, Ivan Simonovic, a delegate of the non-governmental organization International Commission Against the Death Penalty, told the media, BelTA has learned.

A group of international death penalty experts is in Grodno on a visit on 12 September.

"We did not come here to tell Belarusians what to do. Belarus should deal with this issue on its own. We are visiting Belarus' regions and discussing death penalty issues as we meet with representatives of civil society, academic community, and local authorities," Ivan Simonovich remarked.

According to the professor, the delegation comprises international experts of different levels.

They have already met with high-profile officials of the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee and local deputies. The delegation is set to talk with students and professors of Yanka Kupala Grodno State University and hold a press conference.

Read full text at: http://eng.belta.by/society/view/opinion-belarus-should-decide-on-death-penalty-on-its-own-104793-2017/I

(source: BelTA)

IRAN----execution

Man Hanged on Murder Charges

Iran Human Rights has obtained information about an execution that was carried out in Iran in late August. According to close sources, a prisoner was hanged at Shirvan Prison (northern Khorasan) on Sunday August 27 on murder charges. Close sources have identified the prisoner as Farrokh Hamadollahi.

"On July 2, 2012, Farrokh got involved in a fight in order to defend his cousin. During the fight, he shoved an individual to the ground, and the individual died after his head hit on the concrete pavement. Farrokh repeatedly insisted that he did commit an act of murder, but the authorities sentenced him to death anyway," an informed source tells Iran Human Rights.

Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and state-run media, have not announced Farrokh Hamadollahi's execution. At the present time, there are roughly 750 prisoners in Shirvan Prison who are held under deplorable conditions.

(source: Iran Human Rights)

SAUDI ARABIA:

Execution looms for teen tortured to "confess" to protest-related crimes

A young Saudi Arabian Shi'a man who claims he was tortured to "confess" alleged crimes committed when he was 16 years old faces imminent execution, in the latest shocking example of Saudi Arabia's ruthless clampdown on dissent, said Amnesty International today.

The family of Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, now 21, were yesterday informed that the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence for his alleged role in anti-government protests. He has now exhausted all his appeals and faces execution as soon as King Salman ratifies his sentence, which could happen at any time.

Al-Hawaj, who was sentenced to death in July 2016 after a grossly unfair trial, denies participating in any of the acts attributed to him.

"Saudi Arabia's vicious crackdown on dissent appears to know no bounds. Its latest victim, a child at the time of his alleged crimes, now faces death at the hands of a repressive regime that uses the death penalty as a tool to crush dissent," said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

"From his arbitrary arrest, to his torture in detention and unfair trial, the conviction of Abdulkareem al-Hawaj has made a mockery of justice. King Salman must step in to quash this sentence and order a retrial in line with international fair trial standards, without resorting to use of the death penalty."

Due to the secrecy surrounding the judicial process in Saudi Arabia, it is unclear when the King would ratify the death sentence. Families are usually not informed about the ratification process and the scheduled execution of their relatives.

Abdulkareem al-Hawaj was sentenced to death last year for a range of offences related to his alleged involvement in anti-government protests in the Shi'a majority Eastern Province in 2012, when he was aged 16.

He had no access to a lawyer during his pre-trial detention and interrogations, and said that he was held in solitary confinement for the first 5 months following his arrest at a security checkpoint in 2012.

He also says he was beaten and threatened with the death of his family during interrogations by officials in the General Directorate of Investigations. Eventually he wrote and signed a "confession" that appears to be the sole basis for his conviction.

"Rather than sending Abdulkareem al-Hawaj to his death based on a statement possibly obtained through torture, the Saudi authorities should be investigating the claims that he was tortured by security officers," said Lynn Maalouf.

"The authorities must also immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia."

Saudi Arabia is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons below the age of 18 at the time of the crime.

Background:

Amnesty International has recorded a worrying increase in death sentences against political dissidents in Saudi Arabia since 2013, including the Shi'a Muslim minority.

The organization has documented the cases of at least 33 members of Saudi Arabia's Shia community who are currently facing the death penalty. All were accused of activities deemed a risk to national security. 3 others who remain on death row awaiting execution, Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and Dawood al-Marhoon, were also arrested for alleged offences committed when they were under 18 and have said that they were tortured to make them "confess".

Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most prolific executioners and uses the death penalty for a wide range of offences such as murder, drug-related crimes and terrorism. At least 85 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia since the start of 2017, including 44 in the past 2 months.

Last week, the family of another man on death row, Said Mabkhout al-Sai'ari, who was convicted on murder charges, learned that he will be executed on 13 September. The court sentenced him to death despite concluding that there was not enough evidence, relying on the statements of the victim's father, who swore 50 times in court that he believed Said Mabkhout al-Sai'ari was responsible for the murder of his son even though he was not present at the crime scene.

(source: Amnesty International)

MALAYSIA:

S'wakian and Filipina escape death

A Sarawakian and a Filipina, who were initially charged with drug trafficking, were sentenced by the High Court here on a lesser charge of drug possession.

Stage technician Andy Lim Shau Seng, 32, was jailed 15 years and ordered to be caned 10 times after he pleaded guilty to an amended charge of having 664.9gm of syabu at 4.30pm on Aug 29, 2016 in front of Kedai Fook Yuen in Gaya Street, here.

Filipina businesswoman Rubiah Lahani Abdul Rahman, 34, was handed 5 years' jail on an alternative charge of having 56.43gm of syabu at 4.10pm on May 17, 2016 at the KFC outlet in Karamunsing Complex, here.

Earlier Monday, Lim was brought before Judge Datuk Nurchaya Arshad for ruling on the main charge against him for trafficking the drugs, which carries the death penalty under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

However, the court amended the charge to possession under Section 12(2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, punishable under Section 39A(2) of the same Act, which carries imprisonment for life or not less than 5 year, if convicted.

Counsel Kitson Fong, representing Lim, applied for a lenient sentence on the grounds that it was Lim's 1st offence and that his guilty plea had saved time and expenses.

Fong also asked the court to give Lim a chance to turn over, saying his arrest caused him to evaluate his life and that he felt remorse.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Gan Peng Kun said drug offences were a major problem for the nation and demanded a deterrent sentence.

He added that by pleading guilty was not entitled to a lesser punishment and proposed a jail term of between 15 years and 20 years, and whipping accordingly.

Meanwhile, Rubiah had, on Aug 29, admitted to an alternative charge offered by the prosecution following a representation from her counsel.

She was initially scheduled to stand trial the said day on the original charge of trafficking the drugs.

Counsel Hairul V. Othman, representing Rubiah, in her mitigation, told the court that Rubiah, who is married to a local and has 3 children, has been staying in the State for 20 years.

Hairul submitted, among others, that at the time of the arrest there were another man and woman who actually played a bigger role in the case, which set her up to be the scapegoat notwithstanding that she also knew what she was into.

Rubiah was at fault considering that she could make some money working with the said 2 persons, who were also arrested at the same time with her and were only detained under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, said Hairul.

By pleading guilty proved that Rubiah had repented and being responsible of her own act even if she did not do it alone, said Hairul, who applied for the sentence be just and fair in a form of reasonable minimum period of imprisonment.

(source: Daily Express)

VIETNAM:

7 Vietnamese arrested for transporting drugs from Laos to Vietnam

Vietnamese police on Monday detained 7 people from Vietnam's northern Dien Bien province for transporting a total of nearly 5 kg of opium from Laos to Vietnam.

Among the 7 detainees, Chang A Thao, born in 1980 in Dien Biens Muong Nhe district, was caught red-handed when transporting the biggest amount of opium -- 1.5 kilogram, the provincial police said.

The detainees crossed borders to work as manual laborers in Laos and then used their wages to buy opium and come back to Vietnam for resale.

According to the Vietnamese law, those convicted of smuggling over 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kg of methamphetamine are punishable by death. Making or trading 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal drugs also faces death penalty.

(source: xinhuanet.com)

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017:

PENNSYLVANIA:

How Philly plans to ditch cash bail and what stands in the way----Democratic candidate for district attorney Larry Krasner has a plan to get rid of cash bail. He's not the only game in town.

Josh Glenn was just 16 when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, charged as an adult and thrown in a Philadelphia jail cell. That's where he sat for 18 months, unable to post the $2,000 bail that would have let him out of the city's House of Correction.

Glenn's case was ultimately dismissed and he was released, sent back into the world having spent a year-and-a-half on State Road. Today, Glenn is 29 and a criminal justice reform advocate in the city who;s fighting daily to change the system, starting with what he considers to be a broken cash bail apparatus that punishes the poor just for being poor.

"We're holding folks in who haven't gone to trial, and we're treating them like they're guilty already," he said. "Cash bail, what it does is create more debt in poor and low-income houses ... it just doesn't work."

For this activist, there was only one candidate for Philadelphia District Attorney when the primary rolled around last May: Larry Krasner. Krasner, the Democratic nominee for Philadelphia district attorney and the favorite to win the November general election, branded himself as the outsider candidate - the criminal defense attorney who was going to come in as the city's top prosecutor and turn the Office of the District Attorney upside down. In a field of 7 candidates, Krasner won the primary and topped the 2nd-place finisher by 18 points on a wave of progressive support, largely through vowing to never seek the death penalty, to address systematic mass incarceration and, yes, to reform the city's cash bail system.

And though there's already work being done on the inside of Philadelphia's criminal justice system to reform how bail works - particularly for low-level, nonviolent offenders - Krasner says it hasn't yet gone far enough.

"The ideal situation," he said, "would be to eliminate cash bail entirely."

No matter the campaign rhetoric, Krasner can't do that alone. Luckily for him, he won't have to.

Inside Krasner's 'long-term proposition'

Krasner and like-minded criminal justice reformists point to Washington, D.C. as the gold standard of bail reform.

The nation's capital, which entirely eliminated money bail in the '90s, routinely releases 90 % of the people who have been arrested, according to data gathered by the U.S. Department of Corrections. Of those, 9 in 10 didn't commit an additional crime before their court date in 2015 and, of the ones who did, the vast majority were nonviolent offenses.

That's not a decision a DA can unilaterally make. ---- Republican DA candidate Beth Grossman on eliminating cash bail

In addition to robust monitoring services and treatment options for defendants, The District also established other alternatives to incarceration, including a system of check-ins that includes a Day Reporting Center that opened in 2004. In addition to supervision, the Center offers case management, job training services, random alcohol and drug testing and medication-assisted drug treatment.

Problem is: D.C., which approved eliminating cash bail through local legislation, is not Philly. Krasner admits that implementing a system analogous to D.C.'s in Philadelphia would be a "long-term proposition" that will take time, vetting and cash.

"Unlike D.C., we know that a Republican-dominated, pro-Trump Pennsylvania legislature is not going to immediately turn around and eliminate cash as an option," he said. "Having said that, enormous gains can be made without the passage of any legislation."

For decades, the Philadelphia criminal justice system has operated in a pretty consistent way when it comes to bail: Some defendants are released on their own recognizance - usually with little or no conditions - and some people are not released and bail is set. For Krasner, "the question is really about the middle."

Krasner described what he hopes would be a change in culture at the District Attorney's Office in which prosecutors aren't asking for "middling" amounts of bail, but rather they're asking for 1 of 2 things: 1. Full release, with or without conditions or 2. A high bail that's similar to no bail at all (think something like $20 million) for the most extreme of cases.

David A. Sklansky, a Stanford law professor who follows the work of progressive prosecutors around the country, said this approach can work.

"Judges often follow prosecutors' recommendations on bail as well as on other things," he said, "so prosecutors can do a lot just by changing their recommendations in particular cases."

The bail reform that's already happening

While Krasner branded himself as the criminal justice reformer during the primary election, he's not the only game in town - not by a longshot. Since July 2015, the City of Philadelphia has slashed its daily inmate population by nearly 20 % as part of a multi-year, $3.5 million grant from the national MacArthur Foundation, and much of that progress was made by reducing the number of inmates sitting on State Road awaiting trial.

About 6,700 inmates are currently housed in Philadelphia's criminal justice system, and generally about 1/4 of them are still awaiting trial.

Michael Bouchard, the director of pretrial services for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, is a member of a coalition of leaders in the city's criminal justice community tasked with carrying out the ultimate goal of the MacArthur grant: Reducing the overall inmate population by a third.

2 of 4 major programs aimed specifically at reducing the pretrial population have already been implemented: Pretrial bail advocates (a program through the Defender Association) and Early Bail Review, according to Bouchard. The latter program launched in July 2016 and allows case review within 5 days for nonviolent defendants who have bails of $50,000 or less and no other reason to be held. Since its inception, Bouchard said, 86 % of defendants who had an early bail review hearing were released, while 90 % of those released appeared at their next court date.

The other 2 programs - a risk tool and alternatives to cash bail - that are still the works are interconnected. City officials are working with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania to develop a new risk assessment tool that they hope will allow for a scientific approach to assigning alternatives to cash bail.

"The goal with implementing a new risk tool is to reduce or eliminate cash bail," Bouchard said. "That's been the goal since the inception of the MacArthur program."

There's growing recognition that a justice system that keeps people in custody just because they're poor is wrong. ---- Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution

Julie Wertheimer, the city's chief of staff for criminal justice and a leader on the MacArthur undertaking, said parts of her team have met with both Krasner and Beth Grossman, a former prosecutor and the Republican nominee for district attorney, twice each to discuss the progress they've already made and to review how the incoming DA can fit into the structures currently in place.

"Both seem supportive of it and understand that the current DA's office has played an active role in this," Wertheimer said, "and that it's our hope that whomever is the new DA will continue that."

Grossman said in an interview that she's "committed" to continue working with MacArthur grant decision-makers and said she's open to eliminating cash bail for low-level, nonviolent offenders. As for eliminating cash bail entirely, Grossman said "never say never, but that's not a decision a DA can unilaterally make."

Krasner acknowledges that. It's why he says if he wins in November, he's going to have to work to win buy-in from stakeholders across the criminal justice system before he can claim success in slashing Philadelphia's cash bail system as we know it. Fortunately for him, the city's already heading there, and has been for years.

"We as a system are moving in this direction," Wertheimer said of efforts to move toward eliminating cash bail. "That's why we've been able to absorb leadership changes. Everyone else in the system has already signed onto this plan."

Can Krasner win more buy-in?

That doesn't mean a reform-minded district attorney won't face pushback, according to Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor and executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network of progressive prosecutors.

"Change is never easy, and it's particularly challenging for lawyers and judges who tend to be somewhat change-averse," she said. "It does create challenges for newly-elected district attorneys ... It's important for them to be strategic and not presume they're going to be able to hit a reset button overnight."

Krasner said he believes it's possible to win a "high level of buy-in that would result in extremely different bail results." The challenge, he admits, will be in convincing some bail commissioners and local judges that releasing a defendant they would have slapped bail onto before isn't a public safety concern. He said if he wins the general election in November, he'll get to work then on that process of persuasion.

"One of our tasks will be to inform the judiciary ... and to try to achieve a level of buy-in based upon science," Krasner said, "as opposed to hunch and intuition and everything else that, frankly, has been the primary driver in the criminal justice system since Salem."

We're holding folks in who haven't gone to trial, and we're treating them like they're guilty already. ----Josh Glenn, who spent 18 months in jail before his case was dismissed

They'll point to positive results in D.C. and, more recently, in New Jersey, which upended its criminal justice system in January by essentially ending the cash bail system statewide. Since then, the number of inmates awaiting trial dropped by 20 %.

Krinsky said public sentiment surrounding cash bail has dramatically shifted. Save for the bail bondsman industry, criminal justice officials across the country on the left and the right are slowly moving toward reforming their own cash bail systems.

"There's growing recognition that a justice system that keeps people in custody just because they're poor is wrong," she said. "It's wrong for the individual, and it's wrong for the community."

Sklansky said as challenging as it can be to win hearts and minds outside the District Attorney's Office, it can be just as difficult to gain buy-in from the inside, particularly from career prosecutors, some of whom have worked in the system for decades. He said that's "another reason why it can be difficult for a progressive prosecutor to make good on the hope and expectations that surround his or her election."

Though many prosecutors in Philadelphia have indicated they're open to reform, gaining their support could prove especially problematic for Krasner, who spent the better part of his career criticizing law enforcement in the city. In a May op-ed in the Philadelphia Citizen, a group of 12 current and former assistant district attorneys urged Philadelphians to vote for anyone but Krasner, writing that "many of the ADAs that Mr. Krasner doesn't let go will quit, rather than work for someone who has branded everyone in the office a liar before even taking the reins."

In the end, that could simply mean there will be high turnover among the city's 300 assistant district attorneys if Krasner takes office in January, a not-uncommon phenomenon when leadership changes. That doesn't seem to bother Krasner, who's indicated he's open to overhauling management across the board.

"To the extent that [prosecutors] share values around improving things, getting better results for everyone, then there will be buy-in," Krasner said. "And to the extent that they are opposed to the mission, maybe they are better served by being in a different line of work."

(source: billypenn.com)

OHIO----impending execution

Ohio prepares to put condemned killer of 2 to death

Ohio is preparing to put a condemned killer of 2 people to death this week as the inmate awaits word on last-minute appeals.

Death row prisoner Gary Otte was sentenced to die for the Feb. 12, 1992, killing of Robert Wasikowski and the Feb. 13, 1992, killing of Sharon Kostura. Both slayings took place in Parma in suburban Cleveland.

The state plans to execute the 45-year-old Otte on Wednesday with a lethal combination of 3 drugs.

A federal court is considering Otte's argument that the 1st drug in the process creates an unconstitutional risk of severe harm.

Ohio put the killer of a 3-year-old girl to death in July, the 1st execution in more than 3 years after a delay caused by a drug shortage.

(source: Associated Press)

**************

Attorneys In Akron Arson Case Want the Death Penalty Removed Over Former Police Chief's Racial Slur

Stanley Ford has been charged with setting 3 fires that killed 9 people in Akron. At the time of the indictment, James Nice was chief. He resigned last month, and 1 of the reasons was his reported use of the N-word in a private conversation. Ford is black, Nice is white, and now Ford's attorneys say race played a part in their client facing the death penalty.

Dean Carro - a professor of law emeritus at the University of Akron - says proving white and black defendants were treated differently could be difficult.

"Even to get to that data, they have a tough burden. Assuming they get that data, they still have to prove that this was not a function of prosecutorial discretion, but it was motivated by race.

"It would have to be established pretty clearly that the chief not only held these privately held views about African-Americans, but expressed those and that got turned into a policy or a decision or a discretionary determination to charge. That seems pretty far away from the chief."

Carro adds that the defense motion could also be hampered by an unusual move made by prosecutors prior to the indictment. They allowed Ford's attorneys to present mitigating circumstances that could have influenced the decision to add a death-penalty specification.

(source: WKSU news)

ARKANSAS:

Inmate called unfit to face murder trial----Man accused of killing officer at jail

An Arkansas inmate accused of killing a female correctional officer has been found by mental health experts to be unfit to proceed to trial.

Tramell Mackenzie Hunter, 27, appeared Tuesday with Little Rock lawyer Ron Davis at a hearing before Miller County Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson.

Hunter is charged with capital murder in the Dec. 18 death of correctional officer Lisa Mauldin, who died after she was attacked in the kitchen of the Miller County jail. Hunter is also charged with battery of a peace officer for injuries suffered by correctional officer Damaris Allen shortly after Mauldin was attacked. The state is seeking the death penalty.

Johnson ordered a mental evaluation of Hunter earlier this year after Davis entered an innocent plea by reason of mental disease or defect. Stephanie Black, the prosecuting attorney for Miller and Lafayette counties, told the court that the psychologist who performed the evaluation of Hunter has moved to California since completing a fellowship in Arkansas at the State Hospital.

That doctor found that Hunter is not currently capable of assisting his lawyer with his defense, but the doctor expressed the opinion that further evaluation is needed, Black said. Davis said defendants found unable to assist their lawyers, and thus not fit to proceed, are typically ordered to a facility such as the State Hospital for 10 months in hopes that competency can be restored through drugs and other therapy.

However, Davis pointed out that while Arkansas law provides a mechanism for incompetent defendants to be treated with hopes of restoring competency, Hunter's case is different because he was already an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Correction at the time of the attacks on Mauldin and Allen.

Hunter was assigned to the Miller County jail as part of the Department of Correction's 309 program that allows certain offenders to serve their sentences in county jails in need of cheap labor.

Hunter has been serving a 15-year term for aggravated robbery and 2 counts of felony domestic battery. He was sentenced Feb. 22, 2011, as part of a plea bargain in Pulaski County.

Dr. Benjamin Silver, a staff psychologist at the State Hospital, said that Hunter appears to fall somewhere on the "schizophrenia spectrum" but that diagnosing individuals with certain disorders can require lengthy observation.

At the end of Tuesday's hearing, Johnson ordered that Hunter return to the State Hospital for further evaluation. Until a determination is made concerning Hunter's competency, the case against him in Miller County cannot move forward.

If found guilty of capital murder, Hunter faces death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. If found guilty of 1st-degree battery of a peace officer, Hunter faces 10 to 40 years or life in prison.

(source: arkansasonline.com)

OKLAHOMA:

Psychologists allowed to testify in beheading case

A nearly 3-year murder case could be getting closer to a conclusion.

Several motions and responses have been filed in accused murderer Alton Alexander Nolen's case, including the state's motion to suppress the testimony of psychologists Jeanne Russell and Antoinette McGarrahan on the defenses' intent to use an insanity defense at trial.

Judge Lori Walkley ruled last week that Russell and McGarrahan would be able to testify at Nolen's trial, which is set to start later this week. Early indications point towards the trial lasting about a month.

Currently, the court is working to select 60 potential jurors that can give meaningful consideration to all 3 potential penalties if the Nolen is found guilty. The penalties include life in prison with the possibility of parole, life without parole, or, what the prosecution is seeking, the death penalty.

Of the 60, the final 14, made up of 12 jurors and 2 alternates will be chosen to hear the case.

Nolen is accused of beheading Colleen Hufford in 2014, before he was shot by Vaughan Foods executive and Oklahoma County Sheriff's Reserve Deputy Mark Vaughan.

According to a Moore Police affidavit, Nolen, who had been recently fired from his production line job at the company, due to a complaint, entered the front office on Sept. 25, 2014, with a knife, stabbing coworkers and beheading Hufford.

Nolen faces a 1st-degree murder charge and 5 assault with a weapon charges.

(source: normantranscript.com)

IDAHO:

Trial for accused cop killer Jonathan Renfro opens in Coeur d'Alene

It was the kind of crime that a community remembers forever: Following reports of burglaries, a 16-year veteran Coeur d'Alene Police officer enters an area of the Lake City after midnight. The officer encounters an armed man and is shot in the head.

Sgt. Greg Moore died several hours later on May 5, 2015, after medical efforts to save him ended. He was later awarded the Idaho Medal of Honor in a ceremony that included his son and father.

Today, Kootenai County officials will gather scores of residents to the courthouse to begin the selection of a jury, who will decide the fate of Jonathan D. Renfro, 29, charged with 1st-degree murder and several other charges in connection to Moore's death.

The jury's task could come in 2 stages. If it eventually decides during a trial - which could include more than 100 witnesses and dozens of experts - that Renfro is guilty of 1st-degree murder, it would then be asked in a separate hearing whether the defendant should also face the death penalty.

The case will be prosecuted by Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh and deputies David Robins and Jed Whitaker. The defense includes Twin Falls attorney Keith Roark, who was appointed to represent Renfro along with Deputy Kootenai County Public Defenders Jay Logsdon and Linda Payne.

First District Judge Lansing Haynes, himself a former Kootenai County deputy prosecutor, has issued a gag order that prevents the attorneys from commenting on the case.

But last year, prosecutors alleged in a written motion that Renfro not only admitted his involvement in the shooting but predicted he may have been targeting police. The motion was filed last year to bolster the state's case for aggravating factors that may be used in its effort to seek the death penalty.

Prosecutors claimed, in the motion, that Renfro showed his girlfriend the gun that was later determined to be the one that killed Moore. Renfro, who was on felony parole at the time, displayed the gun a the day before the deadly encounter.

"The defendant boasted that a bullet within the magazine was a 'cop killer' bullet," the motion states, according to court records. "When asked about what he would do if stopped by law enforcement, the defendant claimed he would go down murdering police officers."

The motion also claims that while in jail, Renfro has laughed about committing certain aspects of the crime during phone conversations.

Renfro "has justified his actions as being noble - claiming that cops will now think twice before being aggressive with individuals," the motion read.

Shortly after he was arrested, Renfro told detecitves that on Sept. 5 he went looking for a car to steal and "to collect money on behalf of white supremacists from Native Americans."

In a 2-hour interview with investigators, Renfro first denied shooting Moore and blamed the crime on someone named Davis. Renfro changed his story and admitted to shooting Moore when a detective informed him that the incident had been captured on Moore's body camera.

When a detective asked Renfro why he shot Moore, the suspect replied, "Fear," according to a transcript of the police interview that was read in court.

"Fear of what?" the detectives asked him. "Having a gun in my damn pocket," Renfro answered, according to court testimony.

Moore apparently stopped to question Renfro after seeing him, dressed in dark clothing, walking down a sidewalk on Wilbur Avenue in a residential neighborhood a little before 1:30 a.m.

One of the detectives, during the court hearing in 2015, also asked Renfro how Moore had treated him during the encounter. Renfro said he found Moore to be a "really nice man," according to the transcript read in court in August 2015.

Former Public Defender John Adams questioned Idaho State Police Detective Michael Van Leuven, the lead investigator in the case, during the preliminary hearing in 2015.

Adams asked Van Leuven if Renfro told detectives he shot Moore because the officer had placed his hand on his service pistol. Van Leuven said yes, but he didn't recall the exact words Renfro used.

According to the interview transcript, Renfro told detectives, "If my intent was to shoot him, I would have shot him before I gave him my ID."

Renfro continued: "I was feeling scared, trapped and concerned," and as soon as he saw Moore place a hand on his gun, "I didn't think," and just reacted, according to the transcript read in court.

Prosecutors earlier had asked Judge Haynes to move the case to Boise in an effort to find jurors who had not heard about the case, but Haynes refused.

"This court specifically finds that the bulk of publicity in this case, as presented by Renfro, consists of accurate representations of the allegations leading to the charges against Renfro, and accurate representations of the various procedural stages of the case," Haynes wrote in his decision last June.

(source: The Spokesman-Review)

MALAWI:

International community rattled by Malawi muslims' call to kill gays

The international community is abuzz with reports that the Muslim Association has proposed the death penalty for homosexuals in Malawi.

The anti-Jihad Website Jihad Watch quoted local media which quoted Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) spokesperson Sheikh Dinala Chabulika calling for gay people to be condemned.

The Jihad Watch article is currently making rounds on Twitter and is the current most salient result on Malawi on Twitter at the time of publication.

Sheikh Chabulika was quoted in an article published by a fortnightly newspaper 'Mkwaso' dated 1st-14th September 2017.

In the article, Chabulika stated that homosexuality is not only against the Islamic teachings and religion but also an abomination and therefore emphasized that those practicing it be executed.

He further emphasized that as the Muslim Community, they will never change their stand on the matter that homosexuals need to be handed death penalty as a way of making sure that the issue is curbed.

Chabulika was also responding to the call by Malawi government through the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on the need to conduct a survey to sort views of Malawians on Homosexuality practice which is under the LGBTI (Lesbians, Gays, Transgender and Intersex).

The Sheikh said the Inquiry is 'unnecessary'.

In response to Chabulika's calls, Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected with HIV and Aids (MANERELA) Human Rights Activist Allie Mwachande described the sentiments as a 'big shame'.

"This is a very big shame! If they say homosexuals must be killed is he [Chabulika] himself ready to kill? Because if he is ready then he should tell us when and where he will do that" said Mwachande.

He added: "As a human rights campaigner, I meet different people and I know some of the Muslims who are within the LGBTI Community. Some are even from Mangochi where him and I all come from...will he be happy to see his brothers and sister killed?".

Mwachande further reminded Sheikh Chabulika as a man of Allah to always preach love in order to serve the souls of the so called 'worst sinners'.

"As a Sheikh, he should always preach about love without looking at the sexual orientation, tribe, colour, cultural beliefs etc. Jesus and Mohammed both preached about love and the Bible and Quran [sic] still tells us to love one another" explained Mwachande.

The most revered prophet in Islam, Muhammad is quoted in the Hadith as specifying the punishment for gays:

"The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, 'Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.'"

(source: The Malavi Post)

MALAYSIA:

Lawyer: Wrongful conviction makes the case for death penalty repeal

The case of a young Thai woman who is on death row demonstrates why the death penalty should be repealed in Malaysia, says a lawyer with the National Legal Aid Foundation.

In a report by the Asian Correspondent, Samantha Chong spoke about how the Thai national was in Malaysia, and was waiting at a bus station platform and her friend had left a bag beside her.

She happened to be then questioned by police who asked her if the bag was hers, and she had replied that it was not.

"Despite her denial, she was arrested and charged with drug trafficking after the bag was found to contain heroin.

"During the trial, the defendant claimed that her statement had allegedly been falsified by police to say she claimed ownership of the bag," Chong was quoted as saying.

Chong added that the defendant's lawyer had not properly presented her defence in court and as a result, she was convicted and sentenced to death.

According to Chong, this is not an uncommon incident, and that all the "finding of facts" decided in the trial at the High Court is normally "not disturbed" when the case is heard on appeal.

"If you are convicted at the High Court, your fate is almost sealed. The Federal Court's judgement is simple, 'You should have presented this new argument at the High Court' and so they will disallow it.

"As the process of law stands, if the defence wants to challenge facts, the lawyer must ask the questions during cross examination in the 1st trial, and not present new facts on appeal," Chong said in calling for an end to capital punishment as there could be other cases of wrongful conviction leading to an innocent person facing the gallows.

Speaking at the Freedom Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur recently, Chong also said many of those convicted do not understand their rights and, in some cases, don't even know what they are being arrested for.

"Many people on death row do not have good legal representation," Chong was quoted as as saying by Asian Correspondent.

"Around 50% of them are migrants which raises immediate issues with language. In a lot of cases, defendants don't even know what is happening when they are arrested and are not allowed to see a lawyer until sometimes 6 or 7 months after arrest."

Calling them the "silent group", Chong said their cases are often out of the media spotlight and they are left alone to defend themselves against the word of the police.

"In most death penalty cases the witnesses are the police. There are many good policemen but there are some bad apples. So, if the courts only have the word of the police against the word of the suspect, who are they going to believe?" Chong told the festival audience.

Cabinet approval for court discretion

The issue of the mandatory death penalty has long been a contentious one in Malaysia with not just the law, but many people too supporting such punishment for those convicted of murder, drug trafficking, treason and waging war against the King.

However, the mandatory death sentence for the drug offence may soon be a thing of the past.

It was reported last month that the Cabinet had unanimously agreed to allow judges to impose an appropriate penalty on drug traffickers instead of the mandatory death sentence under an amendment to Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said told the Dewan Rakyat at the last parliamentary sitting that the relevant ministries and agencies would prepare a memorandum to be handed over to the Cabinet for approval.

She said research on the issue had been carried out through the International Centre for Law and Legal Studies (I-CeLLS) and presented to the cabinet on March 1.

"The cabinet unanimously agreed to the amendment to Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act," she had said.

Azalina was responding to a question from Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, who had asked for updates on the government's move to review the mandatory death sentence.

In response, the Malaysian Bar called for the government to table a bill soonest possible to put an end to the mandatory death penalty, declare an official moratorium on the use of the punishment, stay any pending executions and commute every death sentence to one of life imprisonment.

Last year, Malaysia executed 9 people. This was an increase from the 1 sentence carried out in 2015.

This places Malaysia at number 9 among the 23 countries that still have the death penalty, according to Amnesty International.

(source: freemalaysiatoday.com)

LEBANON:

Lebanese director faces tribunal at home for filming in Israel----Ziad Doueiri reportedly detained at Beirut airport for 'dealing with the enemy' 5 years after release of his film 'The Attack'

A Lebanese film director was brought before a military court in Lebanon Monday to face charges related to a 2012 movie he made that was partially filmed in Israel.

Ziad Doueiri was arrested the day before when he landed at Beirut airport, the local blog "A Separate State of Mind" reported. He was charged with "dealing with the enemy" and authorities took away his French and Lebanese passports.

According to the report, Doueiri's arrest came after "a complaint was filed," although it was not clear why the issue resurfaced so long after the fact, or who filed the complaint. The director had returned to Lebanon from the Venice Film Festival and was set to release his latest work "The Insult," which was filmed in Lebanon, in the coming days.

Doueiri, 53, filmed parts of his movie, "The Attack," in Israel, where he stayed for 11 months, breaking a Lebanese law that forbids its citizens from traveling to Israel.

Simply by shooting the film in Israel and casting Israeli actors, Doueiri was violating a 1955 Lebanese law that bans "cooperation with Israeli institutions or acts, inside or outside Israel." He could even face the death penalty if a Lebanese court interpreted his felony as full-fledged treason.

"The Attack" is based on the book of the same name by Algerian writer Mohammed Moulessehoul. It tells the story of an Israeli-Palestinian surgeon working in Tel Aviv, who discovers that a suicide bombing was carried out by his wife after terrorists recruited her.

It was banned in Lebanon, and the Arab League called for its boycott because of the Israeli locations used during production.

In a March 2013 interview with The Times of Israel, Doueiri was defiant despite the risks posed by making the film in Israel.

"No Lebanese government is going to execute me for going to Israel, but they can screw things up for me," he said at the time. "I'm not afraid. If I were, I wouldn't have made the film."

Born in 1963, Doueiri is most famous for his film "West Beirut." He left his home country during its civil war and studied in the US. He now mostly works there and in Europe.

(source: The Times of Israel)

PAKISTAN:

If the US President could pardon terrorists and desperate, hardened convicts, why can't the President of Pakistan pardon or give remission?

Clemency please!

The former President of the United States of America in 1999 granted clemency to 16 convicted terrorists despite hue and cry raised by FBI, police, the US Senate, and the House of Representatives. In 2001, on his last day in office, Clinton accepted mercy petitions of three women terrorists given long jail terms. Generally, US Presidents grant pardons all through their term; however, former President Bill Clinton granted pardon to 140 people on the very day of his as inauguration as President of the US. Former Presidents of US Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, during their tenures, as Presidents had pardoned 406 and 566 respectively.

In 2006 the Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena, granted pardon to a Tamil Tiger insurgent convicted who plotted a plan to kill him a decade ago. The President of Sri Lanka welcomed him onto the stage and even blessed him by touching him on his head. The opponents of the President accused him of undermining nationwide safety by releasing desperate and hardened convicted terrorists from the jail. Among mentioned instances were instances where desperate and hardened convicted persons had been pardoned by the Presidents of their countries. The question considering Pakistan arises is: how can the President of Pakistan decide the clemency plea of convicted persons after dismissal of their appeals in the Supreme Court?

The latest data released by the Ministry of Interior says that the President of Pakistan since 2014 had dismissed 513 mercy petitions. Needless to say that Pakistan lifted 8 year-long moratorium on the death sentence in 2014 in the wake of the brutal massacre in Peshawar, wherein 144 school children were murdered. The former President of Pakistan had to pardon Mirza Tahir Hussain-a British Pakistani - who was convicted of murdering a taxi driver in Rawalpindi in 1988. He was pardoned by the President and his clemency plea was drafted and sent to the President by the Prince Charles. The former of Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, came on an official trip to Pakistan in 2006 wherein he discussed Mirza Tahir Hussain's case.

There was another instance where the former President of Pakistan, Rafiq Tarar, pardoned an inmate who was allegedly accused of spying in Pakistan. He was pardoned by the President in 1998. The reason for quoting these instances are that ratio of acceptance of clemency plea in Pakistan is very low. Furthermore, no concrete, objective criteria is available for the President as to how he decides on a mercy petition. As mentioned above, the President had dismissed as many as 513 mercy petitions- the number is too high. If the US President could pardon terrorists and desperate and hardened convicts, why cannot the President of Pakistan pardon or give remission to those inmates who had come in conflict in law by accident or for the first time. Since the introduction of military courts, the cases involving terrorism-related issues were referred to them, and cases involving ordinary criminal offences remained in ordinary civilian criminal courts. The President of Pakistan, by virtue of Article 45 of the Constitution, remained the final and last forum where an inmate can submit for mercy after the dismissal of his appeal in the Supreme Court.

Since 2014, 472 people have been sent to the gallows and most of them were convicted of single murder or other ordinary criminal offences. It is available on record that the government, in consultation with other stakeholders, reinstated the death sentence despite immense international pressure from human rights organizations to execute terrorists and people convicted of heinous offences against humanity.

There are many inmates who have been on death row for years and the President, without having any objective criteria, had dismissed their mercy petitions. Most of them have poor and vulnerable background. The President of Pakistan is under a constitutional duty to exercise his power under Article 45 as soon as possible: keeping a mercy petition for years is a failure on his part to perform his constitutional duty effectively.

The President of Pakistan has a constitutional obligation to exercise his power under Article 45 as soon as possible: keeping a mercy petition for years is a failure on his part to perform his constitutional duty effectively

For instance, a case of a juvenile Muhammad Iqbal is foremost. His first mercy petition had been dismissed by the President; no idea on what grounds his petition was dismissed. No idea what criteria was adopted by the President while deciding his clemency plea. He has been languishing in jail since 1998. Another example could be of Kaniza Bibi who has been in jail since 1989, and she was found to be insane. The authorities were about to send her to gallows a year ago, but the intervention of international organisation save her from gallows. The President must grant pardon and remission to vulnerable and juveniles by exercising his power under Article 45.

The President and the authorities must perform their duties effectively. I further submit that the President ought to consider clemency pleas with open heart as the death sentence undermines human dignity. Pakistan can only be a peaceful country if we de-weaponise it and also we abolish the death sentence.

(source: Sarmad Ali is an attorney in Lahore; Commentary----Daily Times)

SEPTEMBER 10, 2017:

VERMONT:

Sister Janice Ryan to receive Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Community Foundation is proud to honor Sister Janice Ryan with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service. The award will be presented at the Community Foundation's Annual Meeting (link is external) on September 13, 2017 and is given to a person who has demonstrated a long-term and significant commitment toward creating healthy and vital Vermont communities.

Sister Janice Ryan is a lifelong advocate for special education, social justice, and criminal justice reform. She was born on a dairy farm in Fairfield, Vermont in 1936. In 1950, she moved to Burlington to attend high school at Mount St. Mary's Academy and during her last year there, she joined the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy. She went on to receive a B.A. in English from Trinity College of Vermont and a Masters of Education in Special Education from Boston University.

Ryan began teaching at Cathedral Elementary and Junior High School in Burlington and then became the Diagnostic and Pre-School Program Director for Handicapped Children at Trinity College of Vermont, a Catholic women's college. From there, Ryan became a Professor of Education and then the President of Trinity College (1979-1996).

After leaving Trinity, Ryan went to Washington, D.C. where she worked to promote fairness and justice. She served as Director of Justice Education and Interfaith Relations under The Justice Project; the Education Director for U.S. Senator James Jeffords; and Project Director of the Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines. She was influential in the passage of the Vermont Special Education Law and pushed to have it used as the prototype for Congress in developing the nation's special education law. Ryan was also involved with a group that focused on the death penalty and "The Innocent Protection Act," which motivated states to collect DNA from all incarcerated individuals.

Ryan has traveled extensively for her work, with visits to Austria, Russia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, and the Republic of Latvia. She was also invited on the Vietnam Veterans of America's trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and took part in a three-week experimental living program in Cochabamba, Brazil.

In 2003, Ryan became the Deputy Commissioner of Corrections for the State of Vermont and is now retired, but still works with prisoners on a regular basis. As Deputy, she oversaw nine facilities in Vermont, twelve field offices for probation and parole, the furlough program, and Vermonters incarcerated in 3 other states.

In 2006, she was 1 of 4 Vermont natives who have celebrated 50 years as a Sister of Mercy. In their honor, the State of Vermont House of Representatives passed H.C.R. 367. Ryan is currently a part of the Fellows Program and the International Women's Forum Leadership Foundation.

(source: vermontbiz.com)

NORTH CAROLINA:

Campbell sentencing phase to begin; faces death penalty

The sentencing phase for a Texas man convicted of killing a North Carolina couple is set to begin Monday morning.

Eric Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, faces the death penalty after being convicted last month of 1st-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Jerome Faulkner, 73, and Dora Faulkner, 62.

Campbell was also found guilty of 1st-degree burglary, 2nd-degree arson, robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle, financial card theft, identity theft and 2 counts of cruelty to animals.

West Virginia State Police arrested Campbell and his father, Edward Campbell, in Greenbrier County.

Edward Campbell later killed himself in prison.

The sentencing phase was put on hold for the last few weeks to allow travel time for witness impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Since Campbell is from Texas, his attorney indicated his family and friends would travel from Texas to North Carolina to testify.

The Faulkners were stabbed to death inside their Granville County, NC home on New Years Eve 2014. The Campbells put their bodies inside a stolen truck, set their house on fire, then drove off.

During the trial, the defense claimed Eric Campbell suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They said his father was extremely abusive and lured him in to going on the multi-state crime spree.

Prosecutors told the jury Eric made the deliberate and conscious choice to go on the trip. They said the killings were not the result of 1 person's actions and that it was a 2-person job.

The trial was delayed for about a month after a juror got into a car accident. The judge allowed her a few weeks to recover from the crash. When jurors reconvened, they only took a few hours to convict Campbell of the crime.

The same trial jury will decide if Campbell should be put to death.

Monday's hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

(source: wvmetronews.com)

TENNESSEE:

Holly Bobo Jury has been selected; Trial starts Monday

After more than 7 hours, the jury for the Holly Bobo murder trial has been selected.

Dozens of potential jurors faced tough questioning from both the defense and prosecuting attorneys at the Hardin County Courthouse Saturday.

Twenty-nine potential jurors were dismissed before the final 15 were chosen.

1 woman was sent home after telling the court she didn't believe in the death penalty, and another man was dismissed early after having a panic attack in the jury box.

More than 50 witnesses are expected to take the stand during the trial, but Judge C. Creed McGinley said he wants to, "keep things moving."

Defendant Zach Adams was present during jury selection and Bobo's family was seated in the second row of the courtroom.

The jury will be sequestered at a local hotel for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last 2 weeks.

Bobo was kidnapped from her Decatur County Home in 2011, raped and killed.

Her remains weren't discovered until 2014.

Adams is charged with 1st-degree felony murder, premeditated murder, especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape.

He faces the death penalty if convicted.

(source: WREG news)

ILLINOIS:

It's true, Illinois' 1st execution of a non-Native American was in St. Clair County

Q: I thought your recent column on the Macoupin County executions was superb. It reminded me that I thought I once heard that the state's 1st execution was in Belleville. Is that true? Also, you mentioned that the arm and head later was cut off the corpse of the second man executed in Macoupin. Why?

B.M., of O'Fallon

A: Here's something even eerier: Trivia scholars love to trip up their less knowledgeable friends by asking how many witches were burned during the infamous trials in Salem, Mass.

The answer, of course, is none. 19 were hanged, and 1, Giles Corey, had heavy stones piled on him to try to force a plea. After 2 days, he died - a week after his 81st birthday.

In fact, it is often alleged that nobody has ever been burned at the stake for being a witch in the United States. But that's demonstrably not true. At least 1 man was - and it happened right in our backyard in Kaskaskia, Illinois.

Col. John Todd was the 1st civil governor of what was then Illinois County. According to his record book, a black slave named Manuel, "who made a honorable fine at the door of the church," was arrested for practicing voodoo. He was sentenced June 13, 1779, by Todd to be chained to a post and burned alive with his ashes scattered. 2 days later, Sheriff Richard Winston carried out the ghastly execution.

But, yes, it is true that once Illinois became a state in 1818, Belleville is believed to have carried out its 1st execution of a non-Native American 3 years later, the terrible outcome of an otherwise petty neighborly dispute.

According to Alvin Nebelsick's "The History of Belleville," Timothy Bennett owned a horse that often strayed into the neighboring field of Alphonso Stewart's. When one of Stewart's farmhands once peppered the wayward horse with beans, Bennett heard of the incident and was angered.

Some say Bennett and Stewart later engaged in a drunken argument while others say Bennett asked friends Jacob Short and Nathan Fike for advice. Whatever the true preliminaries, Bennett and Stewart challenged each other to a duel.

Feb. 8, 1819, turned into "High Noon" in Belleville. With Fike and Short acting as seconds, the 2 squared off just south of what would become Turners Hall on North 1st Street.

The sad thing was that it was supposed to be a sham duel. Everyone thought they had worked it so the 2 men would face off with guns loaded only with powder. But as Rachael Tannehill would later testify, Bennett, just before making his way to the site of the duel, stepped into an alley and rammed a ball down his rifle.

When all was ready, the 2 combatants were placed 30 yards apart and told to await the signal to fire. Again, Bennett refused to follow the rules. Before the signal could be given, Bennett unloaded his round, killing Stewart.

On March 8, a grand jury indicted Bennett, Short and Fike for murder. Just 3 months later, both Short and Fike were acquitted, but by that time, Bennett had escaped from the St. Clair County Jail, going on the lam for more than 2 years. Finally, in early July 1821, he was recaptured.

Justice was swift. On July 26, another special grand jury re-indicted him. A day later, Bennett went on trial and a day after that a jury convicted him. Judge John Edwards sentenced him to be hanged.

"Neither Bennett nor his friends believed that this awful sentence would ever be executed," an old history of St. Clair County says. "The latter made strenuous efforts to have him pardoned. Failing in this, they tried to have the sentence commuted. But the governor (Shadrach Bond) remained firm against all entreaty."

So, for want of proper fencing for his horse, Bennett was led to the gallows on Sept. 3, 1821.

"Bennett was hanged near West Belleville, near the site of the Henry Raab School," the county history account says. (Nebelsick put it in a large field near 1200 W. Main St.) "The execution was witnessed by a multitude of men, women and children."

It would be the 1st of 250 hangings in the state, including 1 woman, Elizabeth Reed in 1845 at Lawrenceville. In this area, St. Clair County topped the list with 11, followed by Madison (6), Randolph and Washington (3 each) and Bond and Monroe (1 each), according to the list at www.genealogytrails.com. On July 1, 1927, hanging was replaced by 3 electric chairs at Joliet, Chester and Chicago, which were used 97 times until 1990, when Charles Walker became the 1st of 12 people executed by lethal injection. On March 9, 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.

As to why the executed prisoner's body was later mutilated, no reason was given, so I did not speculate. However, since you asked, I can only hypothesize that it may have been a final act of revenge by the victim's family or simply an easy act of tasteless hooliganism, since the body had been buried apart from others.

(source: bnd.com)

MONTANA:

Great Falls street fighter charged with murder

A Great Falls man who admits to being involved in about 50 street fights and having "knocked out at least 20 people" has been charged with deliberate homicide in the beating death of a 26-year-old man who is described as being "a friend of Douglas."

Darionn Tyler Douglas was arrested early Sept. 5 and charged with felony aggravated assault after Great Falls police responded to a call just after 2 a.m. Tuesday reporting that an unconscious man was at a residence on the 1200 block of 7th Avenue South.

A court affidavit states that when police arrived at the residence the deceased man, identified only as M.L., "appeared to have been severely beaten and was bleeding profusely." The female resident of the residence "was a registered nurse and was administering aid to the victim" the affidavit states.

M.L. was immediately transported to Benefis Health System where he was treated for his injuries. On Thursday, Sept. 7, medical personnel advised the investigating officer that M.L. "was clinically brain dead."

Douglas' charges have now been amended to include deliberate homicide, and in the alternative felony negligent homicide. If convicted of deliberate homicide, Douglas could face the death penalty.

According to the court affidavit, Douglas admitted to police that he and M.L. had been in a fight.

"Douglas admitted he and the victim were drinking alcohol when a verbal argument ensued," the court affidavit states. "Both Douglas and the victim agreed to go outside and engage in a fight."

Douglas later admitted to putting a set of weight lifting gloves on his hands just prior to the fight with M.L.

In a follow-up interview, Douglas allegedly bragged to police investigators that he had "been involved in roughly 50 street fights and of those fights, he had knocked out at least 20 people."

Douglas also has a prior Partner/Family Member Assault conviction.

Douglas told police that M.L. hit him 1st, breaking his nose and tooth. However, Douglas' nose was examined by medical staff the morning of the assault, and it was found to not be broken.

Douglas allegedly then kicked M.L. in the face and knocked him out, and then continued to repeatedly punch, elbow and knee the man in the face after he was unconscious.

"Medical personnel indicated M.L. has sustained massive injuries to his face to include a broken jaw in 2 places, a broken orbital bone/eye socket, and substantial brain trauma causing it to swell significantly," the court affidavit states. "It was determined the injuries sustained by M.L. were caused by Douglas, and they directly led to his death."

The state of Montana has requested a $250,000 bond for Douglas' release pending trial. He remains in custody at the Cascade County Detention Center.

(source: Great Falls Tribune)

CALIFORNIA:

Death Penalty in California is Madness!

To D.A. Dudley:

The News-Press reported today that you will seek the death penalty for Pierre Haobsh for his brutal murders of the Han family in Santa Barbara. In principle, I could not agree with you more that this guy deserves to die, but I do not agree with your decision. If you succeed in getting the death penalty for this killer and I believe that you will, your office will spend an inordinate amount of time and taxpayer money on it and in the end, he will not be executed in your lifetime!

The facts concerning the death penalty in California will show that Haobsh will die of old age in San Quentin instead of being executed. The public needs to be educated and shown how really ineffectual and costly the death penalty is in order for an anti-death penalty initiative to succeed next time.

One of the leaders advocating to end the death penalty is Jeanne Woodford, a former deputy undersecretary and director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the former warden of San Quentin prison.

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye stated in the L.A. Times that "the death penalty in California is dysfunctional" in its failure to bring about executions. Victims' families' appearances in court for appeal hearings literally go on forever, therefore prolonging their pain and suffering and who in most cases never receive closure for their loss.

Murderers who were sentenced to death, in some cases 35 or more years ago, are still sitting on death row in California through appeal after appeal. More death row prisoners have died from natural causes than have been executed in the last 35 years.

Santa Barbara County has 7 inmates on death row and among them is Malcom Robbins. He murdered a child in Goleta in 1980 and has been on death row since 1983; 34 years! Richard Benson: 30 years! George Wharton: 30 years! Tommy Martinez: 19 years! Martin Mendoza: 17 years! Ryan Hoyt: 15 years! Joshua Miracle: 11 years. This does not include the previous years that were taken for their trials and convictions.

Death penalty inmates live a more comfortable life on death row than general population inmates! This entire process is madness!

Since 1976, California has executed 13 people, the last one in 2006. This is about 1 every 3 years.

Each of the 13 executions has cost California's taxpayers $250 million. California has about 745 people on death row and each inmate there costs $90,000 more, per year, to house than other prisoners, a total of over $65 million a year in extra costs for all death row inmates. An inmate on death row for 25 years costs over $3.5 million just to house in San Quentin.

Each initial death penalty trial costs over $1 million more than a life-without-parole trial. The legal system eats up one-third of its total budget, hundreds of millions of dollars through hearing endless death penalty appeals.

The enormous expense associated with the prosecution of death penalty cases starts with the discovery of the homicide. Many people attribute the costs primarily to the delays following a conviction, i.e., appointment of counsel, appeals, etc. Those expenditures are imposed on the state. The counties bear the costs of initial investigation by law enforcement, District Attorney, appointed defense counsel and their investigators, psychologists and psychiatrists, court personnel, jurors (and their employers) -- all of which are multiplied from the norm of "ordinary" criminal prosecutions as a result of a potential verdict of death.

The death penalty should be replaced by a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Of the over 4,700 men and women sentenced to life without possibility of parole in California, few, if any, will ever be released.

If desired by the people of California, an exception for the death penalty could be made for serial killers, for killers who have committed murders with extreme cruelty and murderers of children. In these most heinous of cases, the appeals process would move much faster than it does now, because the courts would then have relatively few death penalty cases to review, rather than the over 700 death penalty appeals that now clog the entire California judicial system.

Convictions of life without parole are far easier to obtain and there is the important safeguard that no innocent person would get executed. Families of murder victims would get faster justice and their emotions would not be on a rubber band.

California Chief Justice Sakauye and former San Quentin Warden Woodford are both tough, hard-line advocates of the criminal justice system, but they realize the failure of the death penalty.

I urge all my fellow citizens and you to take the time to review the staggering total costs of billions of tax dollars involved in death penalty cases, even though we have over 745 inmates on death row and it has only been imposed 13 times in the last 35 years.

The last ballot initiative to end the death penalty in California failed to pass. When the people in our state become educated and then realize why the death penalty is not a death penalty at all, then the next initiative to end it will pass!

With regards,

Ernest Salomon

(source: Op-Ed; edhat.com)

USA:

Judge OKs request by alleged kidnapper's attorneys

A federal court judge has allowed a request by attorneys for accused kidnapper Brendt Christensen to withdraw from representing him.

In a brief hearing Friday morning, Judge Colin Bruce allowed the request of Thomas Bruno and his sons Anthony and Evan Bruno of Urbana, to no longer represent the 27-year-old Champaign man.

Bruce then appointed the office of the federal public defender to step in.

Christensen was indicted in late July for the June 9 kidnapping of visiting University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang, 26, of Urbana, who hails from China.

Because authorities have said she is presumed dead - even though she's not been found - federal prosecutors indicated there could be more serious charges coming that might warrant the death penalty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Freres confirmed that for Bruce on Friday, indicating that prosecutors would seek a superceding indictment in October.

Prior to hearing that, Bruce had hesitated in acting on the Brunos' request, noting that nothing had changed since they were last in court in late August.

Speaking on behalf of his firm, Evan Bruno disputed that.

"The American Bar Association model rules say a death penalty defense begins when the government even hints it's going to seek (that). Work gets started when there's even a whiff that it's coming down the pipeline," he said.

Evan Bruno urged the judge not to wait on the lawyer change until a more serious charge is lodged, saying that would cost the public defender's office valuable time.

\"They are ready to go, to put in the massive amount of effort required. We don't have the funds or the resources to do that," he said, referring to Christensen's lack of funds to pay for his defense.

Even though the government may file a charge for which the death penalty is an option - in this case murder in the course of a kidnapping - the case will still have to be vetted through a panel at the Department of Justice in a mini-trial of sorts to see if the death penalty will actually be sought.

Complicating matters is that none of the public defenders in the Central District of Illinois is qualified to mount a death penalty defense.

Federal Public Defender for the Central District Tom Patton, whose office is in Peoria, gave Bruce the name of Robert Tucker, an assistant public defender in Washington D.C. who has handled "mainly terrorism cases that were eligible and 4 cases where the death penalty was sought."

"I haven't spoken to him personally. He's out of the country. But I'm told he's willing to accept this case," Patton said.

Patton told Bruce that Elisabeth Pollock, an assistant public defender in the Urbana office, met with Christensen on Thursday to go over what would happen and to confirm that he was on board with their representation.

Patton said Pollock and George Taseff, another assistant public defender from the Peoria office, would assist Tucker. Both have handled serious felony cases in state and federal courts but do not have the necessary experience in federal death penalty cases - which are quite rare - to be lead counsel.

Appearing in jail garb and looking a bit pale, Christensen confirmed for the judge that he was willing to allow the Brunos to withdraw and would need appointed counsel. He told Bruce that he has about $60,000 in outstanding student loans, $4,000 in car loans and a spouse who earns about $2,500 a month.

The Brunos had filed their motion seeking to withdraw a week ago, citing Christensen's family's inability to pay them any more for the intensive defense that would be required for a capital case.

Bruce put it this way: "If you agree to represent someone for X offense and then later it becomes, X plus Y plus Z, they can ask to withdraw."

Last month, Bruce set a trial date of Feb. 27. He told Patton he wanted to stick to that schedule, even though that may be optimistic given the volume of discovery, which is the subject of a protective order, that the government will have to hand over to the new defense team.

"We need to get this case resolved. That's months and months away," Bruce noted.

Christensen was arrested June 30 and has been held in the Macon County jail since then.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Patton made a brief statement saying that it would be the only statement to come from the defense team while the case is active.

"I ask everyone to recall he's presumed innocent and the allegations are only allegations. All you've heard so far is one party's version of the facts," he said.

Patton said he hoped the defense team would be able to head off the death penalty at the Department of Justice.

(source: News-Gazette)

PAKISTAN:

Christian teen accused of burning Koran face death sentence and mob violence

A Pakistani Christian teen who was arrested on Aug. 12 on blasphemy charges after being accused of burning pages of the Koran now faces a possible death sentence if he is convicted or mob violence at the hands of the local Muslim community.

Asif Massih, 18, has been accused of burning pages of the Koran outside a Muslim shrine in Jam Kayk Chattha village Wazirabad in Punjab province. Police had to transfer him to another station after an angry mob crowded around the one he was previously detained in and demanded that authorities hand him over, Fox News detailed.

"He is on judicial remand on the order of the judge," Alipur Chattha police spokesperson Malik Irfan explained to Fox. "People had witnessed that Massih had burnt the Holy Koran by pouring petrol on it outside Muslim shrine."

Reports showed that at least 71 individuals have been killed in hardline mob attacks over blasphemy allegations since 1990. In April, a student mob killed university student Mashal Khanin in the city of Mardan over false accusations of blasphemy.

In Pakistan, blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue, and there are dozens of convicts who are lined up on death row over allegations of insulting the Prophet Muhammad or desecrating the Muslims' Holy Book. In some cases, even unproven accusations can stir mob lynching.

Last month, the Islamabad High Court requested parliament to make reforms to Pakistan's blasphemy law to prevent false accusations of the crime. In his order, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui suggested the death penalty for people who will cast false blasphemy accusations, Al Jazeera reported.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan's chairman Mehdi Hasan welcomed Justice Siddiqui's order. He told Al Jazeera that the blasphemy law was being abused by people to settle personal disputes.

Despite the positive reactions to the recommendation, legal experts see little hope in the revision or repeal of Pakistan's blasphemy law. Previous attempts to do the same were reportedly unsuccessful.

(source: christiandaily.com)

INDONESIA:

Drug trafficking, among 16 punishable by death penalty in Indonesia

His Excellency, Mr. Harry Purwanto is the Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Gabon, Liberia, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe and ECOWAS. In this interview with Vera Samuel Anyagafu, he disclosed the critical state of drug abuse in Indonesia and how after the inauguration of the Indonesian President in 2014, he immediately declared there would be no clemency for drug-related cases.

This decision made drug trafficking part of 16 serious offences that are subject to death penalty in the country, and much more.

Excerpts:

What would you say on the issue of Indonesian government prescribing death sentence for drug traffickers? Drug trafficking is a very serious challenge in Indonesia. According to statistics in 2014, 4.5 million Indonesians were in need of rehabilitation from illicit drugs. This means 30-50 Indonesians are dying each day due to illegal drug use.

Considering the critical state of drug abuse in Indonesia, after the inauguration of the Indonesian President in 2014, he immediately declared that there will be no clemency for drug-related cases.

Drug trafficking is part of 16 serious offences that are subject to the death penalty in Indonesia, which also includes corruption, terrorism, treason, pre-meditated murder, and so on.

Considering the extreme nature of the death penalty, it is stipulated in the Indonesian criminal justice system that death penalty is only imposed under the most serious crimes, and applied as a last resort after strict and transparent due process of the law has been exhausted.

With regards to death sentence, Indonesia attaches great importance in ensuring the transparent, credible, and accountable due process of the law with maximum prevention of miscarriage of justice.

The execution is carried out only after the verdict has a permanent legal force; after all appeals, legal defenses, and other legal avenue have been exhausted; and after clemency has been denied.

The defendant is granted and protected in exercising their rights for a fair, transparent, and open legal process. In the case of foreigners, their respective Embassies and Consulates are given frequent access in providing consular assistance from the beginning, during detention, the trial, imprisonment, until the planned execution.

Going by the last Indonesia Trade and Investment Forum in Nigeria, would you say both countries maintain win-win cooperation, spotlighting some of your country's assisted social responsibility to Nigeria.

Although there are dynamics and fluctuation in our balance of trade, economic and trade relations between Indonesia and Nigeria continues to grow and become stronger. Over the past several months, the Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Indonesian Minister of Trade paid a working visit to Nigeria, bringing with them a strong delegation of Indonesian businesspeople.

During the last Indonesia Business Forum that was held on July in Lagos, we managed to seal business deals worth USD.21.1 million. There are Indonesian investors that are interested in doing business and invest in Nigeria.

A number of them, in refinery and mining, are in their finalization phase of due diligence as well as installing basic equipments.

Aside from economic and trade, Indonesia has also engaged on other fields of cooperation with Nigeria, including various capacity building programs for Nigerians. These programs include internship and training for Nigerian officials in agriculture, fisheries, good governance, etc.

The Indonesian government also grants Post-graduate scholarships as well as arts and culture scholarships for Nigerian students in some of Indonesia's most prestigious universities, through the Developing Countries Partnership Program (KNB) Scholarship and the Darmasiswa Arts and Culture Scholarship.

You may please tell us the exact visa fee Nigerians intending visiting Indonesia are expected to pay and how high visa fee to Nigeria is dampening the spirit of Indonesians intending coming to Nigeria, the reason we have less Indonesians living here?

The single entry visa fee to enter Nigeria from Indonesia is USD.245 for regular passport bearers. It is the most expensive visa fee for Indonesians planning to travel abroad.

Whereas a single entry visa to enter Indonesia from Nigeria is USD.50 for regular passports. All Indonesian visa applicants from abroad are processed through headquarters in Jakarta, hence Nigerian applicants are advised to submit their applications at least 3 weeks in advance.

We have submitted inquiries to the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review Nigeria's visa policy to Indonesians. Such review would enable Nigeria to be one of Indonesia's frequent travelling destinations, which in turn may also increase investment from Indonesian business communities as well as exchange of Indonesian and Nigerian scholars/experts.

(source: vanguardngr.com)

SEPTEMBER 9, 2017:

NORTH CAROLINA:

Man faces death penalty in motel slaying of pregnant woman

The state is seeking the death penalty against a Wilmington man accused of killing a pregnant escort last summer inside a Market Street motel.

Tevin Demetrius Vann, 25, is charged with 2 counts of 1st-degree murder and 1 count of robbery with a dangerous weapon in the Aug. 12, 2016, slaying of Ashley Ann McLean, 21, of Lillington. McLean was about 8 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

In a hearing June 12, the state announced its intention to seek the death penalty against Vann.

Vann and McLean, according to police, were in the midst of a "prostitution proposal" after connecting via an online escort ad.

McLean's battered and stabbed body was found by a motel worker in room 229 of the Best Western Plus just before 1 p.m. Aug. 12, 2016. The employee had gone to the room, rented in McLean's name, after she failed to check out.

According to police, McLean's missing phone was in woods off New Centre Drive between the motel and Vann's home on Mosley Court.

The phone contained text messages to and from McLean's phone that were traced back to Vann, court documents indicate.

A trial date has not yet been set in the case.

Vann is being represented by Capital Defender Rick Miller. He has a prior conviction for robbery with a dangerous weapon. According to Wilmington Police Department records, Vann was armed with a blunt object when he robbed a man of a cellphone and $20 on North Water Street on June 24, 2011. He served at least 2 years in prison and was released from post-release supervision in June 2015.

Vann is being held in the New Hanover County jail without bail.

(source: Wilmington Star News)

ALABAMA----impending executions

Alabama inmates ask state Supreme Court to stop executions

2 Alabama death row inmates are asking the state Supreme Court to halt their executions scheduled for next month.

Lawyers on Wednesday asked the Alabama Supreme Court to stop the executions since the 11th Circuit Court ordered hearings in a separate lawsuit challenging the humaneness of the state's lethal injection procedure.

They argued the execution should not go forward while there's a pending trial on the "constitutionality of the method of execution that the state intends to use."

Jeffrey Lynn Borden is scheduled to be executed Oct. 5 for killing his wife, Cheryl Borden, and her father, Roland Harris, in 1993.

Torrey Twane McNabb is scheduled to be executed Oct. 19 for the 1997 killing of Montgomery police Officer Anderson Gordon.

(source: Associated Press)

OHIO:

Racial slur by former chief becomes issue in capital case; attorneys seek dismissal of death penalty

A racial slur by former Akron Police Chief James Nice has become an issue in a high-profile capital murder case pending in Summit County.

Defense attorneys for Stanley Ford, who is indicted on murder and arson charges in 3 fires that claimed the lives of 9 people, are asking that the capital specifications be dropped because race and geography played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty.

The attorneys cite recent research that shows the race of defendants and victims and where crimes are committed in Ohio play a key role in deciding whether defendants face the death penalty. They also point to Nice's use of "racial slurs," including the N-word, which was among the reasons the chief was forced to abruptly resign Aug. 27.

Nice was chief when Akron police and other law enforcement agencies investigated Ford. Nice is white and Ford is black.

"Mr. Ford asks this court to carefully consider the words and actions of an overt racist, James Nice," defense attorney Joseph Gorman wrote in a motion filed this week. "Former chief Nice was present from the time of the fires to the press conference announcing Mr. Ford's indictment."

Gorman said he and Don Malarcik, Ford's 2nd attorney, plan to subpoena and question Nice at an upcoming hearing about his involvement in the Ford case and his "racist views."

It remains to be seen whether Gorman and Malarcik will be successful in their claims and whether Nice's racial slur could have an impact on other cases.

Difficult to prove

J. Dean Carro, an emeritus law professor at the University of Akron, said proving that Nice's personal views had an impact on any cases would be difficult. He said the attorneys would have to show that the chief's views "found their expression in policy, practice or custom in the police department."

"That is a difficult burden to meet," he said.

The Summit County Prosecutor's Office declined Friday to comment on the potential broader consequences of the former chief's remarks, citing a gag order in the Ford case.

Nice handed in his resignation after his nephew Joseph Nice, who was then facing criminal charges, told police that he had a videotape of his uncle using the N-word and said the chief was having an affair with a female Akron police officer. The department's leaders also learned that Chief Nice could face criminal charges related to his nephew's used car business.

Nice admitted using the racial slur and having an affair with an officer, which violates police policy, according to Deputy Chief Kenneth Ball, now the interim chief.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, at the request of the Summit County Prosecutor's Office, is investigating the accusations against the chief. Charges were dropped Thursday against Joseph Nice, who had faced 3 felonies related to his auto business.

Mike Callahan, James Nice's attorney, has said his client denies any criminal wrongdoing.

Callahan said Friday that he respects Gorman and Malarick and that they were doing their jobs in filing the dismissal motion.

"They will do anything they can to get the death penalty thrown out," Callahan said. "It has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. It has to do with penalty."

If the attorneys subpoena Nice, Callahan said he will seek to quash it. Summit County Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce, who is presiding over the Ford case, would then decide if Nice should testify.

Information sought

The city of Akron is trying to quash a subpoena filed by Gorman and Malarcik seeking chief Nice's emails, cellphone records, daily planner, disciplinary file, expense reports and appointment calendar for the past 9 months.

Assistant Prosecutor Michael Defibaugh said the request is overly broad and could include confidential information related to police investigations.

"The breadth of the records sought provides a strong indication that the subpoena was issued as part of a 'fishing expedition,'" Defibaugh said in his motion.

Malarcik said in the status hearing Friday that he will work with Defibaugh to address his concerns about the request being overly broad.

Malarcik and Gorman are among the local defense attorneys who have been critical of the Summit County Prosecutor's Office for continuing to pursue capital cases despite the fact that juries in the most recent cases have instead recommended life-without-parole sentences.

They also point to disparities in the implementation of the death penalty, citing a recent study by a North Carolina researcher.

In Summit County, the attorneys point out that 8 of the last 11 people indicted with death penalty specifications were black.

Chief Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Margaret Scott said Friday during the Ford hearing that her office plans to file a written response to the request that the death penalty be dropped from the case. Summit prosecutors have previously said the death penalty is reserved for the "worst-of-the-worst" cases.

Ford, 58, was indicted in late July on 29 charges, 22 that are aggravated murder counts for the 9 fire victims. The murder charges involve different parts of the law under which Ford was charged.

Investigators say Ford set 3 fires in his neighborhood, with 2 people killed in 1 fire and 7 perishing in another, including 5 children. The 3rd was a car fire with no injuries.

Ford is being held in the Summit County Jail without bond. He will next be in court for a pretrial hearing Oct. 20.

*********************

Highlights of death penalty study:

From 1976 to 2014, Ohio executed 53 men. A 2016 study by a North Carolina researcher found:

-- 65 % of those executed were for crimes involving white victims. Only 43 % of homicide victims are white.

-- 52 % of those executed were for homicides involving female victims. Only 27 % of homicide victims are female.

-- Homicides involving white female victims are 6 times more likely to result in an execution than homicides involving black male victims.

-- In cases in which black inmates were executed, 26 % of the victims were white. In cases in which white inmates were executed, 8 % of the victims were black.

-- 4 of Ohio's 88 counties - Lucas, Summit, Cuyahoga and Hamilton - were responsible for more than 1/2 of the state's executions. Among these counties, Summit had the 3rd-most executions in Ohio with 6, less than Hamilton and Cuyahoga but more than Lucas.

[source: The Impact of Race, Gender and Geography on Ohio Executions by Frank Baumgartner at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]

(source for both: ohio.com)

TENNESSEE:

Trial in Case of Slain Tennessee Woman to Begin

A man charged with kidnapping, raping and killing a Tennessee nursing student who disappeared from her home 6 years ago is going to trial.

Opening statements are scheduled Monday in the trial of Zachary Adams in Savannah, Tennessee.

Adams has pleaded not guilty. So have 2 other men - Jason Autry and Adams' brother, John Dylan Adams. They also face kidnapping, rape and murder charges. Their trials have not been scheduled.

Bobo was 20 when she went missing from her home in Parsons in April 2011. Her remains were found 3 years later in a wooded area.

Adams faces the death penalty if convicted at a trial that caps an investigation Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwynn has called the most exhaustive and expensive his agency ever conducted.

(source: Associated Press)

ARKANSAS:

Lawyer sues Arkansas prison system for label of lead-off execution dose

3 weeks after Arkansas prison officials revealed they are ready to resume executions by having restocked a required sedative, a Little Rock lawyer is suing to force them to disclose the drug's labeling materials.

This is Steven Shults' 2nd time this year to take the Arkansas Department of Correction to Pulaski County Circuit Court over a complaint that department Director Wendy Kelley is violating the state Freedom of Information Act and public-disclosure requirements written into the Arkansas Method of Execution Act.

The execution law mandates the drugs that are to be used for the lethal injection and empowers the Correction Department to set up the execution procedure. It also bars the agency from disclosing much about how it acquires the 3 drugs used for lethal injection. Arkansas' only scheduled execution is set for Nov. 9.

Asked Thursday to explain Shults' interest in the drugs, his attorney, Alec Gaines, said the 65-year-old lawyer wants to verify that prison officials are complying with the execution law. Shults is seeking a hearing before Judge Mackie Pierce within a week, but that proceeding has not yet been scheduled, Gaines said.

Shults prevailed in his 1st lawsuit in March, when he sued to see the labeling for the state's 100-vial supply of the heart-stopping chemical potassium chloride. It's the most lethal component of the 3-drug protocol and the final one to be administered in the lethal-injection process.

State lawmakers imposed the secrecy requirements on the death-penalty chemicals after pharmaceutical manufacturers and sellers complained they were being harassed by anti-death penalty foes for selling drugs for executions.

Some countries have outlawed selling medications for use as lethal-injection drugs, and companies that are based outside Europe but also operate there can be subject to overseas sanctions for providing the chemicals. Manufacturers also dislike the bad publicity that comes from using otherwise medically necessary drugs to kill.

Kelley has said no one will sell the lethal chemicals to Arkansas if their identities have to be disclosed, and she had to be granted special authority by the Legislature to purchase the required drug while bypassing the requirement that a doctor endorse the purchase.

The state is currently fighting off a lawsuit by a medical supplier that claims one of Kelley's deputies tricked a salesman into selling the prison department one of the chemicals, an anesthetic. The drug's manufacturer, Pfizer, has also complained about Arkansas use of that anesthetic for executions.

In March, Judge Wendell Griffen agreed with Shults' argument that the secrecy requirements established by the Legislature only extend to the drug supplier, not the manufacturers that are responsible for the chemicals' labeling.

Lawmakers did not specifically exclude drugmakers from public disclosure the way they specifically protected the identities of the chemical suppliers, Griffen stated in his ruling ordering the labeling documents be released immediately.

But the materials' release was quickly blocked by the state Supreme Court acting on a request from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to stay Griffen's ruling until the justices could review his decision in an appeal from the prison department.

That appeal process is ongoing with the state's 1st written arguments due in 2 weeks, indicating a schedule that could keep the high court from having enough time available to rule until the new year.

With no final decision from the justices, prison officials rejected Shults' August request for labeling materials by relying on the same arguments they used in March, that the law prevents them from disclosing anything about the maker or provider of the execution drugs.

They say they cannot release the labeling materials because the documents are so distinctive in shape, size and wording -- even spelling and punctuation -- that even the redactions allowed by law can't obscure who manufactured the chemicals.

The prison department took that position after The Associated Press figured out the manufacturer of one chemical in 2015 by comparing the redacted materials to readily available information on the Internet.

Now, Shults is asking for the labeling materials for the state's brand-new supply of midazolam, the 1st drug that's administered in the killing process. It's used as a sedative to prevent the condemn inmates from feeling the affects of the other two chemicals, which are the killing drugs.

The second chemical administered is the anesthetic vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the respiratory system and stops the condemned inmate's breathing.

The state's previous midazolam supply expired in April, after four killers had been put to death during an 11-day span. Prison officials had been set on executing 8 men, at 2 a day, before the sedative lost its potency, but the courts granted new appeals to four of them. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has since granted clemency to 1 of the men.

The vecuronium bromide is expected to last through March 2018 before it become unusable, while the potassium chloride should last until August 2018, prison officials say.

The newly obtained batch of the sedative, which is said to be good through January 2019, cost $250. Prison officials disclosed last month that they had acquired 50 new vials. That revelation came as the attorney general announced she was asking for Gov. Asa Hutchinson to set an execution date for the only killer who has run out of appeals, 62-year-old Jack Gordon Greene.

Hutchinson obliged with a November death date. Greene is under a death sentence for killing Sidney Burnett, a retired Johnson County minister, in 1991. Green forced his way into the 69-year-old man's home near Knoxville, where he bound and gagged Burnett, beat him with a can of hominy and also stabbed, shot and cut the man's throat.

Greene was on the run at the time from North Carolina authorities after fatally shooting his brother and stealing his car.

Greene took Burnett's pickup and fled to Oklahoma, where he was caught still carrying the gun he had used on both Burnett and his brother. The Arkansas Supreme Court overturned his original 1992 sentence on appeal, but a 2nd jury's death sentence in 1996 was upheld by the high court.

(source: arkansasonline.com)

ARIZONA:

Ariz. Man Sentenced to Die After Murdering 2 People and Burying Their Bodies in Mom's Backyard

An Arizona man convicted of murdering 2 people who were found mummified in a box in the backyard of his mother's home was sentenced this week to die for his crime, PEOPLE confirms.

Alan Champagne was found guilty in June of 1st-and 2nd-degree murder, respectively, in the 2011 slayings of Brandi Hoffner and Philmon Tapaha.

Hoffner, 26, was strangled with an electrical cord - for which Champagne was given the death penalty - while the 30-year-old Tapaha was shot in the face.

Champagne was further found guilty of kidnapping and 2 counts of abandonment/concealment of a body.

"I understand the difficult task faced by this jury and appreciate the time they devoted to both hearing the case and arriving at a verdict," Maricopa County, Arizona, Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

Champagne's defense attorney, Maria Schaffer, says that her client "told both the jury and the judge that he did not commit these murders."

Prosecutors argued that Champagne killed Hoffner and Tapaha in June 2011 at the home he shared with his then-girlfriend, Elise Garcia, and later buried their bodies in his mother's backyard in Phoenix.

Garcia testified that she was present during the murders and both heard the gunshot that killed Tapaha and witnessed Champagne strangle Hoffner, who reportedly begged for her life. Garcia was given 16 years for her own role in the deaths and in return gave key testimony against her ex.

"She was not a credible witness," Schaffer says of Garcia. "She got a deal - she was looking at life in prison and she got 16 years."

Schaffer says that, "having known Alan for 5 1/2 years and representing him," she has "a different perspective" on the case.

"I acknowledge that the crimes Alan was accused of doing were very bad, but after investigating his life and background you can understand why someone ends up like Alan," she explains. "He was in prison at the age of 19. He was running the streets as a 13-year-old. He grew up in a very impoverished neighborhood. He lacked any type of a male role model. He has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. He has a history of huffing paint as a teenager."

Soon after the killings, Champagne and Garcia were pulled over and police discovered a bag of rotting flesh, Tapaha's Social Security card and Hoffner's purse, according to the Arizona Republic.

Prosecutors say that Champagne was a person of interest at the time but they didn't have anything linking him to the crimes.

Then, in March 2012, police went searching for Champagne in an unrelated case and they found him barricaded in his mother's home, with his girlfriend held as a hostage. In the ensuing altercation, Schaffer says, he "shot at the SWAT team and shot at 24 different officers."

He was subsequently taken into custody and convicted of 24 counts of attempted first-degree murder. He was sentenced to 700 years in prison.

A year later, in March 2013, the bodies of Hoffner and Tapaha were finally found by a landscaper doing work for the new owner of the house.

"They were found together in 1 big box," Schaffer says. "They were buried a couple of feet. The bodies were mummified and wrapped in a blanket, and the box was sealed pretty well."

Prosecutors presented evidence during the penalty phase that Champagne was a member of a prison gang and had sought to intimidate witnesses in the trial.

His recent violent convictions are not his 1st: He was previously convicted of 2nd-degree murder for his role in a 1991 gang-related shooting, for which he served 14 years in prison.

(source: people.com)

NEVADA:

Nevada high court hears appeal of Ralph Jeremias death sentence

A judge's decision in the 2014 Las Vegas murder trial of Ralph Jeremias is enough to overturn his conviction and death sentence, a defense attorney told the Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday.

A 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision found that it was an error to exclude the public during jury selection, said Las Vegas attorney Jonell Thomas. There is a constitutional right for the public to be present during jury selection, and it was violated in this case, she said.

Thomas raised numerous issues in the appeal on behalf of Jeremias, who was sentenced for the execution-style shootings of Paul Stephens and Brian Hudson in 2009.

"Sometimes constitutional rights are not convenient," she told the court, which will rule later in the case.

Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney David Stanton characterized the exclusion differently, noting that all seats were taken up by potential jurors. Clark County District Judge Valerie Adair said seats would open up quickly for the family and other members of the public as jurors were dismissed, he said.

"The court never ordered the public to be excluded," Stanton said arguing the appeal of Jeremias' death sentence.

Thomas also cited concerns with testimony elicited during the penalty phase of the trial that incorrectly suggested to the jury that sentencing Jeremias to life without parole might not guarantee he would never be released from prison, giving impetus to a jury to impose death.

"I can almost think of nothing more damaging in a capital case," Thomas said.

Stanton said the testimony was intended only to present the parole process to the jury. The jury was properly instructed and it was never an issue, he said.

Prosecutors said during his trial that Jeremias used a 9 mm handgun to shoot and kill the 2 men execution-style. Jeremias had purchased marijuana from Stephens in the past and coveted money and laptops in their apartment.

Jeremias testified that he went to the apartment complex with friends Carlos Zapata and Ivan Rios to buy marijuana and found the victims already dead.

Both Rios and Zapata told investigators that Jeremias went inside alone with a gun and shot each victim multiple times.

(source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

CALIFORNIA:

Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty for Pierre Haobsh in Han Family Murders----District Attorney Joyce Dudley makes announcement in court; defendant also apparently has expressed desire to represent himself

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Friday that her office intends to pursue the death penalty in the case against Pierre Haobsh, an Oceanside man accused of murdering a Santa Barbara doctor and his family.

Dudley revealed her decision - the 1st in her tenure as district attorney - during a Santa Barbara County Superior Court hearing before Judge Brian Hill.

Haobsh, 27, is accused of killing Santa Barbara Herb Clinic founder Dr. Weidong "Henry" Han, 57; his wife, Huijie "Jennie" Yu, 29; and their 5-year-old daughter, Emily.

The victims' bodies were found wrapped in plastic and duct tape in the garage of their home on the 4600 block of Greenhill Way near Goleta on March 23, 2016. Autopsies determined that all 3 died from gunshots to the head.

Haobsh, who appeared in court shackled and wearing an orange County Jail jumpsuit, is charged with 3 counts of 1st-degree murder and special allegations that the offenses were willful, premeditated and deliberate; committed by means of lying in wait; and committed for financial gain.

In a prepared statement read to the court Friday, Dudley said that "assuming he is found guilty of the crimes he is accused of committing, he should be sentenced to the most sever punishment under California's law which is the death penalty."

She added that her office is prepared to put Haobsh's fate - both on guilt or innocence and the appropriate penalty - in the hands of a jury.

In her 7 years as district attorney, Dudley has never pursued the death penalty, and there's been substantial speculation in recent weeks about what she would do in the Han case, considered especially heinous because it includes the killing of a young child.

After a preliminary hearing in early June, Haobsh was ordered to stand trial. He is due back in Hill's courtroom Sept. 19 for arraignment.

Another issue to be taken up at that hearing is Haobsh's apparent desire to represent himself in the case.

He currently is represented by Deputy Public Defender Christine Voss, who told Hill that Haobsh had a letter outlining his desires to serve as his own attorney.

The letter was not presented to Hill, who indicated it is an issue Haobsh has raised with him previously.

Hill cautioned Haobsh that serving as his own attorney carried significant risks, and that before making such as decision, he "should give it some serious thought."

"Obviously you and I are going to have a long dialogue about this," Hill said to Haobsh, who sat quietly at the defense table.

Also to be considered on Sept. 19 is Voss' request for an injunction barring anyone associated with the case from discussing it with the news media while the legal proceedings are ongoing.

Voss told Hill that without such as gag order, "my client's fair-trial rights might be compromised."

Attorneys for both sides seemed comfortable with such an order, but Hill noted that the news media might want to have their attorneys weigh in on the issue.

Several media entities had asked for permission to take photos or video of Friday's hearing, which Hill denied, as he has similar requests in the case.

The case is being prosecuted by Hilary Dozer and Benjamin Ladinig from the District Attorney's Office.

During the preliminary hearing, it was revealed that authorities discovered numerous items in Haobsh's car at the time of his arrest, including Han's and Yu's iPhones, a credit card in Han's name, an iPad and wallet of his, and a business memorandum of understanding between Han and the defendant. There were also 2 guns and ammunition.

Also found in Haobsh's vehicle was a receipt, dated March 20, 2016, from The Home Depot in Oceanside. Among the items purchased were plastic sheeting, duct tape, a soldering kit and power tools.

Detectives testified that Han and Haobsh had had business dealings together.

Previous testimony indicated that bank records showed that in March 2016, tens of thousands of dollars had been moved from a Wells Fargo account in Han's name to a Chase account in Haobsh's name.

(source: noozhawk.com)

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California court asked to reconsider death penalty ruling

Opponents of a voter-approved measure to speed up executions in California asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to reconsider its ruling upholding the law.

The high court's decision unconstitutionally delegated power to the judicial branch and failed to consider whether the measure could survive after the justices invalidated "critical features" of the law, attorneys Christina Von der Ahe Rayburn and Lillian Mao said in their court filing.

Last month's highly anticipated ruling concerned Proposition 66, a push to "mend not end" capital punishment in California.

Condemned inmates in California currently languish for decades and are more likely to die of natural causes than from lethal injection. There are nearly 750 inmates on death row, and only 13 have been executed since 1978 - the last in 2006.

The state Supreme Court upheld requirements in Proposition 66 limiting successive appeals and filing extensions. But it rejected arguments that a provision setting a 5-year limit on appeals was mandatory, raising doubts that the law will succeed in accelerating death sentences.

An attorney for supporters of the measure did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Rayburn and Mao said the court should determine whether voters would have still passed Proposition 66 without the 5-year deadline and other deadlines in the measure.

Without the deadlines, the judicial branch had no guidance from the legislative branch about how to implement the measure and would be overstepping its authority if it moved forward with crafting rules for Proposition 66, they also said.

(source: Associated Press)

ICELAND:

Iceland gripped as infamous 1828 murders head for 'retrial'----Deaths of 2 men to be re-examined under modern court rules.

It was on 14 March, 1828 when residents on Iceland's remote farm of Stapakot were awoken by a maid from a neighbouring property, who burst in to tell them 2 men were trapped in a fire.

But the men were already dead - clubbed with a hammer and stabbed 12 times before the house was set ablaze with shark oil.

Despite taking place almost 190 years ago, it's a crime that Icelanders have never forgotten, since the convicted killers were the last people ever executed in the country.

On Saturday (9 September), the case is set to grip Iceland once more as it is re-analysed by a mock court, Associated Press reports.

The retrial, conducted under modern rules before a 3-judge panel, may shed light on the motivation for the slayings, the fairness of the original proceeding, and whether the 2 maids - Agnes Magnusdottir and Sigridur Gudmundsdottir - had been abused by the men they eventually killed.

The case has sparked endless speculation, a feature film and a pop song. The tenth book in Icelandic about the murders is set to be published and a documentary is in production. Seats for the retrial have long been sold out.

It will be held at the community center in Hvammstangi, a northwestern village near the murder scene, and will use handwritten court records from the 1828 case, which have been preserved in the National Library.

One of the judges - David Thor, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights - told Associated Press that the original trial nearly 200 years ago did not address the motivation for the killings. It's not clear why Natan Ketilsson, a self-taught doctor, and his guest were killed.

"No one cared about the motivation behind the murders - that wouldn't happen in a modern court," he said.

"Today we would try to understand the motivation behind the murders and particularly how the 2 women, who had no other place to live, were treated by their master."

The 2 maids said the act was masterminded by Fridrik Sigurdsson, a 17-year-old who held a grudge against Ketilsson. He and Magnusdottir, 32, were put to death for their role in the killings. The other maid, a 16-year-old, was sentenced to life in prison in Denmark.

The case highlights differing attitudes toward capital punishment. In modern Iceland, the usual prison sentence for murder is 16 years or less. But in 1828, officials successfully argued for the death penalty, which had not been imposed in decades.

An axe was imported from Denmark to carry out the penalty and the brother of 1 of the victims was chosen as executioner.

Every farm was instructed to send a male representative to witness the event and afterward the decapitated heads were jammed onto a stick for public viewing.

Author Hannah Kent achieved international success with her novel "Burial Rites," which depicts the crime through the eyes of Magnusdottir, who was convicted of killing the 2 men and burning their bodies.

Kent, who said the case is still constantly in her thoughts, hopes the retrial may provide some insight.

"If the murders really were premeditated, I would want to know if something went wrong or if maybe this all happened more in the moment," she said. "Because to me, it has always seemed like a particularly clumsy murder."

She said readers have often asked her what the outcome of the case would be if it were tried under today's rules.

"I have never really been able to give them an answer until now," she said.

(source: Associated Press)

INDIA:

Around 50 face death sentence in Maharashtra

With 2 former aides of Karachi-based underworld don Dawood Ibrahim getting death sentences in the 12 March 1993 serial blasts case, the list of the convicted criminals facing death sentences in Maharashtra is around 50.

Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab and Mumbai resident Yakub Memon are the two persons from Maharashtra who had been hanged to death in the last 2 decades.

Kasab was among the group of 10 Pakistanis and the only one to the caught alive during the 26-29 November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. His clemency plea was rejected by the President. He was hanged to death at the Yerawada jail in Pune on 21 November 2012.

Yakub Memon, who played a key role inthe March 12, 1993, serial blasts in Mumbai, was hanged to death in the Nagpur prison, on 30 July 2015.

According to Prison Statistics 2014 brought out by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there are a total of 318 persons including 8 women on death row across the country of which 36 including 3 women are from Maharashtra.

However, between 2015-17, capital punishments have been given to convicts - which include the accused of the Shakti Mill rape incidents and the 7/11 serial train bombing.

In April 2014, 3 youth Vijay Jadhav, Mohammad Qasim Shaikh and Salim Ansari - were sentenced to death for repeating the crime. They were involved in the rape of a photojournalist and telephone operator at the Shakti Mill.

In September 2015, a trial court in Mumbai sentenced 5 persons to death in the 7/11 train blasts case. They are Kamal Ansari, Faisal Shaikh, Estesham Siddiqui, Naveed Khan and Asif Bashir Khan.

Among others on death row in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra are 3 Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives including a 43-year-old mother of 2, who were awarded capital punishment for their involvement in the August 25, 2003, explosions at Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazar. These convicts are Ashrat Ansari, his aide Hanif Sayed Anees and Hanif's wife Fehmida Sayed. They too have appealed to the Supreme Court.

2 sisters, Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit too are facing capital punishment, in what is known as the Anjanabai Gavit case. The case involves a series of kidnappings and murders. They have been accused of kidnapping and killing a dozen children in the nineties in Kolhapur, Pune and Nashik.

4 years ago, the Bombay High Court confirmed the death penalty of Purushottam Borate and Pradeep Kokade, who were convicted kidnapping, raping and murdering a 22-year-old BPO employee Jyotikumari Chaudhary in Pune in 2007.

(source: Deccan Herald)

IRAQ:

Iraq sentences Islamic State's "chemical emir" to death

Iraq's Central Criminal Court sentenced Sunday a prominent Islamic State chemical warfare developer to death, convicting him of developing some of the group's deadliest weapons.

In a statement on Sunday, Abdul-Sattar Beraqdar, a spokesman of the Supreme Judicial Council, said Zeyad Tarek, who hd joined militant activity in 2003, was sentenced to death based on the Iraqi counter-terrorism law.

He said the convict had confessed to developing toxic weapons for the Islamic State, and had admitted using a chicken coop he owned for the purpose of manufacturing the weapons.

Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council had previously published an interview with Tarek, in which it revealed that the convict was arrested in Lebanon after an intelligence operation that succeeded in retaking him back to Iraq. He was ambushed outside an embassy in Lebanon where he was applying for asylum.

Tarek, who the militants had nicknamed the "chemicals emir", said that one of the rockets he had developed could fire for a 20-kilometer range. The council's paper said several militants arrested for manufacturing chemical weapons and booby-traps had pointed during interrogations to Tarek's facility.

Iraqi and international agencies had occasionally reported suspected chemical attacks by IS militants during the government's U.S.-backed military campaign against the group in Mosul, its former capital which Iraqi forces recaptured early July.

(source: iraqinews.com)

PAKISTAN:

COAS confirms death sentence of 4 hardcore terrorists

Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa has confirmed death sentences of another 4 hardcore terrorists.

According to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement the deaths sentences were given by the military courts.

The convicts were involved in offences of terrorism, including killing of innocent civilians, attacking law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and armed forces of Pakistan. On the whole, they were involved in the killing of 16 persons and injuring 8 others. Arms were also recovered from their possession.

Around 23 convicts were also given imprisonment of various duration by the military courts. The details of terrorists given death penalty are as under:

Raiz Ahmed son of (s/o) Ghularam Khan: The convict was a member of proscribed organization. He was involved in attacking law enforcement agencies and armed forces of Pakistan, which resulted in death of eight officials of police and Frontier Constabulary and injuries to 5 police officials.

He was also involved in destruction of Government Middle School, Aligrama. He was found in possession of fire-arm. The convict admitted his offences before the magistrate and the trial court.

Hafeez ur Rehman s/o Habib ur Rehman: The convict was a member of proscribed organization. He was involved in killing of 3 innocent civilians.

The convict admitted his offences before the magistrate and the trial court.

Muhammad Saleem s/o Muslim Khan: The convict was a member of proscribed organization. He was involved in attacking LEAs and armed forces of Pakistan, which resulted in death of 4 soldiers and injuries to another soldier. He was found in possession of fire-arm.

The convict admitted his offences before the magistrate and trial court. He was given death sentence.

Kifayat Ullah s/o Dilresh: The convict was a member of proscribed organization. He was involved in attacking armed forces of Pakistan, which resulted in death of a soldier and injuries to 2 other soldiers.

He was found in possession of fire-arm. The convict had admitted his offences before the magistrate and trial court.

(source: brecorder.com)

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