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

AUGUST 14, 2018:

LOUISIANA:

Jeff Sadow ignores important facts in defense of death penalty in Louisiana

Jeff Sadow's op-ed defending capital punishment ignores important facts. Clearly, he supports the Louisiana attorney general's emotional appeal to politicize the pain of victims by fanning the flames of support for the death penalty. While Sadow and the AG may be sincere, they ignore the biggest flaws in how the death penalty is administered in the United States: It's arbitrary, racially discriminatory and doesn't deter crime. In Louisiana, it's also wrong 4 out of 5 times. Let's consider some facts.

An intellectually honest op-ed about Louisiana's death penalty would acknowledge a 2016 study by researchers at the University of North Carolina, finding that 127 of 155 resolved Louisiana death penalty cases from 1976 through 2015 ended with a reversal of the sentence - an 82 % reversal rate that is nearly 10 points above the national average. It would look at Louisiana's wrongful conviction rate and be concerned that we lead the nation per capita in exonerations from death row. A scholar should be disturbed that a black man is 30 times more likely to be sentenced to death in Louisiana if the victim is a white woman as opposed to another black man. No white person has been executed in Louisiana for a crime against a black victim since 1752.

It is not surprising that the attorney general (who is apparently running for governor) is attacking the governor on the issue of the death penalty. What is surprising is an assistant professor of political science attacking the governor for abiding by the law, as he is sworn to do as an elected official and as a lawyer. The law presently prevents unconstitutional executions.

Whether it is the cost of the death penalty, the method of execution, the 11 exonorees off Louisiana's death row, the 82 % reversal rate of Louisiana's death sentences, or the pope declaring the penalty unacceptable, citizens of Louisiana must look long and hard at who gets the death penalty and why 82 % of those sentences are overturned - and whether this is a policy we want to endorse as a state. It is also very expensive if done legally and constitutionally. Violent crime is a serious problem warranting serious, careful consideration. And we should seek to repair the harm done to every victim - not just politicize the pain of victims' survivors. We, as citizens, must be better than that.

John DiGiulio

lawyer

Baton Rouge

(source: Opinion; The Advocate)

INDIANA:

Death penalty to be considered in 2015 shooting deaths of man, Hammond teen

The case against an alleged gang member accused of killing a man and a 16-year-old girl, who was shot to death on the front porch of her Hammond home, will be reviewed for a possible death penalty sentence, court records show.

Ivan Reyes was one of four suspected Jackson Street Latin Count gang members charged earlier this year in Hammond's federal court in connection with 2 2015 deaths.

Lauren Calvillo was killed June 29, 2015, as she tried to get children safely inside as gunfire broke out between rival gang members in the 5500 block of Beall Avenue, court records show.

Christopher White was also injured in the shooting and died months later on Dec. 5, 2015, according to court records.

Reyes, aka "Bola," and his 3 co-defendants - Robert Jose Loya, aka "Homicide," Eduardo Luciano, aka "Count Eddie," and Jeron Anthony Williams, aka "Shadow" - appeared Friday in federal court for a status conference in their case.

The 4 are members of the Jackson Street Latin Counts operating out of Hammond, according to the indictment, and have been involved "in murder, attempted murder, robbery and drug trafficking" since 2007.

All 4 were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity. Reyes was also charged with 2 counts of murder in aid of racketeering activity in Calvillo's and White's deaths, court records show.

Reyes' case will be submitted to the Capital Review Committee in early December in Washington DC to be evaluated for the death penalty, according to court records.

On June 29, 2015, Reyes and 3 other Latin Counts members "formulated a plan to shoot and kill multiple members of the rival Latin King street gang who were congregated to mourn the recent death of 1 of their members," the indictment states.

Reyes drove another members to Beall Street "where this member fired multiple shots into the crowd, killing Lauren Calvillo and Christopher White," according to the indictment.

The Hammond Common Council passed a resolution in June to rename the 5500 block of Beall Avenue as the "Honorary Lauren Alyssa Calvillo Memorial Avenue."

"We will not forget the tragedy that happened that day," Ollie Hubbard, Calvillo's mother, said after the resolution was passed. "It means a lot that her name will hang on a street."

Hundreds of people attended her funeral at All Saints Church in Hammond, and a scholarship benefit was held in her name at Wicker Park in Highland in 2017. It was unclear at the Friday hearing whether charges would change against Luciano and Williams, according to court records.

All 4 defendants are scheduled for a status conference March 13, court records show.

The superseding indictment alleged other crimes against the 4 men:

Reyes shot at a potential rival gang member on April 7, 2007, and pointed a firearm at a person on Aug. 15, 2009, in "a threatening manner," according to the indictment.

Williams shot a potential rival gang member on June 23, 2008, and possessed a firearm on May 30, 2009, the indictment claims.

Loya shot at a person believed to be a rival gang member on Dec. 10, 2012, and battered another potential rival on May 29, 2013, the indictment states.

(source: Post-Tribune)

NEBRASKA----execution

Death row inmate Moore executed by lethal injection

Nebraska carried out its 1st execution since 1997 on Tuesday. Carey Dean Moore was executed Tuesday morning for the 1979 shooting deaths of 2 Omaha cab drivers.

Officials said at around 9:15 a.m. Moore was read an execution order. At 10 a.m. the Nebraska Attorney General's office checked for any last minute legal matters that would've prevented the execution.

Moore was escorted into the room and strapped to the table. IV lines were inserted and a heart monitor was attached.

10 witnesses were then escorted into the viewing room.

Officials said after Valium was administered, the warden checked for consciousness. Witnesses watched as fentanyl citrate was administered. Cisatracurium besylate was then administered to induce paralysis and halt Moore's breathing. Potassium chloride was given to Moore to stop his heart.

The Lancaster County coroner called the time of death. State officials announced the execution was complete at 10:57 a.m.

Carey Dean Moore was sentenced to death in 1980 for killing 2 cab drivers five days apart in 1979. The victims were Reuel Van Ness, Jr. and Maynard Helgeland.

Carey Dean Moore's brother Donald was also convicted of killing one of the cab drivers. However, Donald Moore was convicted of 2nd degree murder. He was released on parole in April 1998.

Over the years, the state set an execution date in the electric chair 7 different times for Moore. The courts stepped in and stopped it every time.

In 2007 the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a stay for Moore's execution to examine the state's new lethal injection protocol. At the time, Nebraska had a 3-drug cocktail which was being challenged. This was after Nebraska bought one of the drugs in India. The maker of that drug did not want it to be used in executions but to cure people, so it was taken off the market.

Moore had been on death row for 38 years - longer than anyone else in the U.S.

Lethal Injection Drugs

Moore was executed with a combination of 4 drugs: the sedative diazepam, commonly known as Valium, to render him unconscious; fentanyl citrate, a powerful synthetic opioid; cisatracurium besylate to induce paralysis and halt his breathing; and potassium chloride to stop his heart.

This is the 1st U.S. execution to use this combination of drugs.

Nebraska state officials have refused to identify the source of their execution drugs. A state judge in Nebraska ordered prison officials in June to release documents that might reveal the source of the drugs, but the state has appealed that ruling.

The state said that one of its protocol drugs expires on Aug. 31, which will leave the state with no way to carry out future executions.

In an affidavit filed last Thursday, Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes said he contacted at least 40 suppliers in 6 states and found only 1 that agreed to provide his agency with the necessary drugs. But that supplier is unwilling to sell them any more of its drugs, Frakes said.

2018 Drug Maker Lawsuit and Appeals

A German pharmaceutical manufacturer attempted to prevent Nebraska from using its drugs to execute Moore. The drug company, Fresenius Kabi, filed a lawsuit last week accusing Nebraska prison officials of improperly obtaining its drugs for lethal injections. The company said it doesn't want its drugs used in executions.

But on Monday the German pharmaceutical company announced it wouldn't ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene after losing an appeal in district court.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf's conclusion that postponing the execution would frustrate the state's interest in carrying out the execution. Kopf said granting the drug company's request would "frustrate the will of the people," referring to the 61 % of Nebraska voters who chose to reinstate capital punishment in 2016 after lawmakers abolished it.

"I will not allow the plaintiff to frustrate the wishes of Mr. Moore and the laws of the state of Nebraska," Kopf said during the hearing.

Fresenius Kabi argues that it manufactured the state's supply of potassium chloride and possibly the cisatracurium.

Fresenius Kabi alleges the state's supply of potassium chloride is stored in 30 milliliter bottles. Fresenius Kabi said it's the only company that packages the drug in vials of that size.

Fresenius Kabi argued Nebraska's use of its drugs would damage its reputation and business relationships.

State attorneys denied Fresenius Kabi's allegation that prison officials obtained the drugs illicitly.

Assistant Attorney General Ryan Post said in court Friday that the state's interest in carrying out the execution outweighs the company's desire to protect its reputation. Post noted that the state still has not revealed its supplier, arguing that Fresenius Kabi could have remained anonymous by not filing the lawsuit.

"The plaintiff stepped right into the spotlight, and they're complaining about it," he said.

Nebraska's Death Penalty

Before Moore's execution, Nebraska had not executed an inmate since 1997. Robert Williams killed Catherine Brooks and Patricia McGarry. Williams died by the electric chair. John Joubert was executed in 1996 for the deaths of Danny Eberle and Christopher Walden. In 1994, Harold Lamont "Walking Willi" Otey was the 1st person to die in Nebraska's electric chair since Charles Starkweather was executed in 1959. Otey was sentenced to death in the killing of Jane McManus.

The state has since adopted a lethal injection protocol but has struggled to carry out executions because of legal challenges and difficulties in obtaining the necessary drugs.

State lawmakers abolished capital punishment in 2015, overriding Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto, but voters reinstated the death penalty the following year through a petition drive partially financed by the governor.

Nebraska's corrections department changed its lethal injection protocol in 2017 after years of failed attempts to obtain the necessary drugs.

There are currently 11 people on death row in Nebraska.

Death Penalty Opponents

Death penalty opponents gathered more than 60,000 signatures ahead of Moore's execution. Organizers submitted the petition to Ricketts on Monday after several last-ditch legal efforts failed to halt the execution.

Death penalty opponents say the execution runs afoul of the Catholic Church's recent statement that capital punishment is unacceptable in all cases. Ricketts has argued he's carrying out the will of voters who chose to reinstate capital punishment after the Legislature abolished it in 2015.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska asked the state Supreme Court to delay Moore's execution. The ACLU filed the request Monday, saying the execution should be delayed until the court hears arguments in a separate case focused on the Legislature's 2015 vote to abolish capital punishment.

The ACLU argued that even though the 2015 law was later undone by voters, the law changed death-row inmates' sentence to life in prison. The organization represents 8 Nebraska inmates on death row. But Carey Dean Moore was not one of those inmates.

Moore becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death in Nebraska since the state resumed capital punishment in 1994.

Moore becomes the 16th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1,481st overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

The USA carried out 23 executions last year, and currently has 11 execution dates set across the nation. 3 executions, all in Texas, are scheduled for next month, with the first one set for September 12, when Ruben Gutierrez is set to die via lethal injection.

(sources: WOWT news & Rick Halperin)

USA:

The Pope's Death Penalty Views Have Deep Roots----In the U.S. the death penalty is rarely carried out, and then usually only after 10 to 20 years or more after the crime, which hardly makes it a deterrent to would-be murderers.

Regarding Prof. Joseph M. Bessette's "The Pope Makes a Fatal Error" (op-ed, Aug. 8) about Pope Francis's opposition to the death penalty: While I strongly disagree with the pope, I find the professor's argument based on the death penalty as a deterrent to be very weak.

The fact is that in the U.S. the death penalty is rarely carried out, and then usually only after 10 to 20 years or more after the crime, which hardly makes it a deterrent to would-be murderers. Last year there were 23 executions in the U.S. as opposed to 17,000 murders, making the odds about 700 to 1 against a murderer actually being executed. One death-row inmate in Texas who acknowledged murdering his infant child asked that his execution be carried out immediately, but that won't happen with our incredibly incompetent and inefficient justice system. Instead there will continue to be lawyer appeals and hearings at taxpayer cost, and for what purpose? Is justice being served? Certainly not. Rather our justice system's primary beneficiaries are the legal professionals, and at great taxpayer expense.

William E. Shaver

Houston

**

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the end result of an act cannot justify the means (CCC 1753). Furthermore, to execute a criminal as a deterrent to violence is treating the criminal as a means to an end, which violates his or her dignity as a creature made in God's image (CCC 1887).

If an ethical case for the death penalty can be made from a Catholic perspective, it is not the one put forward by Mr. Bessette.

William Jordan

Wilmette, Ill.

**

The words of the criminal-justice system whisper retribution. We speak of punishment, not deterrent incarceration. Our search for criminal sentences proportionate to the crime is a quest to find a fair but adequate punishment. The death penalty lays greater claim to retributory justice than other sentences, for, as noted, the crime and the punishment go hand in glove, with no judgment involved. There are reasons to oppose the death penalty - the risk of killing an innocent is the best one - but rejection of Hammurabi's eye for an eye isn't one of them.

James A. Dueholm

Washington

**

A 10-year nationwide FBI study shows that states which executed criminals had a per capita murder rate twice as high as states with no death penalty and 50% higher than states with capital punishment that had no executions during the studied years.

David Altschul

Nashville, Tenn.

**

We have a horribly broken system in this country. Punishment is almost never swift and certain as it should be to serve as a deterrent to crime. Furthermore, the victim's loved ones live a constant agony of appeals, retrials, more appeals, more retrials over years and decades, many times only to see some judge decide, perhaps for political reasons, that the murderer should not suffer the death penalty and commutes his or her sentence.

Jim Kohlmann

Orlando, Fla.

**

I can't be certain which Catholic doctrine Professor Bessette consulted in preparing his arguments, but in my parish being "pro-life" means just that: no abortion and no death penalty.

T.J. Cullinane

Derry, N.H.

(source: Letters to the Editor, Wall Street Journal)

TEXAS:

Drug companies don't want to be involved in executions, so they're suing to keep their drugs out

Drug companies have made it clear that they don't want states using their products to carry out death sentences. They've imposed strict limits on who can buy the drugs used for lethal injections, asked states to return some chemicals and, in one case, completely stopped making a drug to keep it out of the nation's death chambers.

The strategy has helped cut states off from many of the drugs they have used or sought to use for lethal injections, causing authorities to scramble to find new drug combinations or different execution methods.

But it hasn't entirely stopped states from getting the drugs they seek, so some companies have started testing a new tactic: Filing lawsuits aimed at keeping their drugs away from executions.

In 3 lawsuits filed since last year, drug manufacturers and distributors have taken aim at states on the verge of carrying out executions, accusing them of using deceit to obtain the chemicals and demanding states return them. Experts say the drug companies are turning to the courts as a last resort.

"The companies have found that you have to up the ante, because a threat is simply not enough," said Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University and a death penalty expert.

While the lawsuits have had mixed results, Denno said she expects more could follow as companies further try to distance themselves from capital punishment.

"The company's goal is to not have their medicine used to kill prisoners," said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington nonprofit. These firms worry about "the damage to their reputation that is caused by having medicines associated with death instead of life," he said.

Supporters of capital punishment accuse the drug companies of forcing states to use inferior execution options and of using the court battles as a way to stop executions - or at least delay them just long enough for the drugs to expire.

The latest of these legal fights has unfolded in Nebraska, where state officials have been preparing to execute Carey Dean Moore, 60, who was sentenced to death for killing 2 Omaha cabdrivers in 1979. Moore's execution, scheduled for Tuesday morning, would be Nebraska's 1st-ever lethal injection as well as the country's 1st execution using the powerful opioid fentanyl.

The drug company Fresenius Kabi filed a federal lawsuit last week seeking to block Nebraska from using what the company believes are two of its drugs to execute Moore. The company said it took no position on the death penalty but "opposes the use of its products for this purpose and therefore does not sell certain drugs to correctional facilities." In court papers, the firm accused Nebraska of obtaining its drugs "through improper or illegal means" because of the restrictions it has in place.

Nebraska officials pushed back, arguing they bought their drugs lawfully and legitimately. They also argued they had no other way to obtain drugs. Scott R. Frakes, director of Nebraska's Department of Correctional Services, wrote in an affidavit that he had contacted at least 40 suppliers and a half-dozen other states seeking drugs; only one supplier would provide them, and they will not sell more to the state, he said.

A federal judge ruled against the drug company on Friday, and a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit affirmed that ruling on Monday. A spokesman for the company said it will not seek further appeals, likely clearing the way for Nebraska to carry out the execution. The office of Nebraska's attorney general declined to comment on the appellate court's decision.

That lawsuit came closely on the heels of another drug company's lawsuit that, at least temporarily, blocked Nevada from carrying out an execution using fentanyl. The state was hours away from executing Scott Dozier, a convicted murder, last month, when a judge halted it because Alvogen, a pharmaceutical firm, accused the state of "illegitimately" acquiring its drug, the sedative midazolam.

The cases both have echoes of an effort last year by McKesson, the drug distributor, which went to court to stop Arkansas from using a drug the company said state officials had obtained under false pretenses. A state judge initially prohibited officials from using the drug, but Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) successfully appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court to have that order stayed. The state went on to carry out four executions in eight days. "Pharmaceutical companies are trying to circumvent the rule of law by using 11th-hour litigation tactics to stall these lawful executions," Rutledge said in a statement last week. Rutledge and more than a dozen other attorneys general have opposed the drug companies' lawsuits in Nebraska and Nevada, calling them "frivolous claims" and accusing the firms of "abusing the litigation process."

"The Arkansas Supreme Court did not cave to the pressure from anti-death-penalty advocates," Rutledge said. "I will continue to fight for justice and support my colleagues against these meritless arguments in states like Nevada and Nebraska, where drug companies have asked courts to halt lawful executions."

In briefs filed in the Nebraska and Nevada cases, the attorneys general said "these lawsuits did not come out of nowhere," but are "the most recent battle" in what Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. has described as "a guerrilla war against the death penalty."

After Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, joined the group of attorneys general weighing in on the Nevada case, he issued a statement saying the drug company "stood between victims' families and justice" and added: "No family should be deprived of their hard-won justice and closure because of the hypocritical actions of this drug peddler."

The legal fights come at an uncertain moment for capital punishment in the United States, where the practice remains on the books in 31 states but death sentences are carried out by far fewer.

Executions and death sentences alike have both plummeted in recent years. Lethal injection remains the main execution method nationwide, used in 289 out of the 292 executions carried out since 2010, according to records kept by the Death Penalty Information Center. (The others were 2 electrocutions in Virginia and one execution by firing squad in Utah; both states have lethal injection but allowed inmates to choose other options.)

Unable to readily obtain lethal drugs, Oklahoma said this year it would begin using nitrogen gas for all executions, which Alabama and Mississippi recently approved as backup options. Utah also has approved using a firing squad in more cases.

"Lethal substances used in a lethal injection execution are difficult, if nearly impossible, to obtain," Frakes said in an affidavit filed in federal court. "This problem is not limited solely to Nebraska, but exists in other death penalty states.

Officials seeking drugs for executions also have turned to a series of new, untested drug combinations. What used to be a largely uniform process nationwide - a 3-drug protocol using an anesthetic, a paralytic and then a drug to stop the heart - has become something that varies from state to state.

Florida last year became the 1st state to use the anesthetic etomidate in an execution. Ohio, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee are among the states that have recently carried out executions using a combination of 3 drugs that include midazolam, which is a common sedative but has become controversial for its use in unusually lengthy or bungled executions.

Nevada and Nebraska both announced plans to use fentanyl in lethal injections, scheduling the first executions involving the powerful synthetic opioid for this summer. Both ran headlong into drug companies asking courts to block the states from using their products and to hand them over, albeit with different results. Nevada's execution remains on hold and the case is ongoing, while Nebraska's court fight appears to be over.

Richard G. Kopf, senior U.S. district judge, issued an order last week rejecting the drug company's request in Nebraska. He pointed to the particularly tangled recent history of capital punishment in the state, noting that lawmakers abolished the death penalty in 2015 and then voters restored it the following year after it was added to the statewide ballot.

"The will of the people, as very currently understood, is plain," he wrote.

(source: Houston Chronicle)

FLORIDA:

With inmate's fate unclear, Florida bishops pray to end death penalty

The Catholic bishops of Florida have asked for continued prayers for an end to the death penalty following the stay of an inmate's execution. They had previously asked Gov. Rick Scott to commute the inmate's death sentence and cited Pope Francis' new catechism revisions on the death penalty.

"Please continue to pray for victims of crime, those on death row, and for an end to the use of the death penalty," the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said Friday afternoon. Jose Antonio Jimenez, now 54 years old, was convicted of the 1992 murder of Phyllis Minas, a 63-year-old woman. He had been scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Aug. 14.

On Aug. 10 the Florida Supreme Court unanimously granted a request to grant the stay, without stating a reason, the Florida News Service reports.

Jimenez's lawyer Marty McClain had requested the stay, citing several issues. These included a pending Supreme Court decision that could affect Florida's lethal injection protocol.

McClain also said he had discovered that the North Miami Police Department had not previously provided to Jimenez's lawyers the 80 pages of records related to the investigation of the murder.

McClain told the Florida News Service that the records include handwritten notes by investigators who interviewed Jimenez after his arrest that contradict their testimony. He contended that they show the investigators were willing to give "false and/or misleading deposition testimony" in order to facilitate Jimenez's conviction.

Catholic prayer vigils had been scheduled across the state to pray for the victim, the aggressor, their families and society, as well as to pray for the end of the death penalty.

After the stay was announced, many of these vigils were set to continue in the dioceses of St. Petersburg, Orlando, Pensacola-Tallahassee and Venice.

However, organizers canceled some Catholic prayer vigils that had been scheduled in the Archdiocese of Miami and the dioceses of St. Augustine, Pensacola-Tallahassee, and Palm Beach.

"We pray for Ms. Minas and for consolation for her loved ones. All of us are called to stand with victims in their hurt as they seek healing and justice," Michael Sheedy, executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an Aug. 9 letter. "We invite people across Florida to join in this prayer. Both victims of crime and offenders are children of God and members of the same human family."

Sheedy, speaking on behalf of the state's Catholic bishops, said Gov. Scott has a "difficult task as governor" but still asked him to commute Jimenez's death sentence and all death sentences to life without possibility of parole.

The letter to the governor cited Pope Francis' revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty.

The Florida bishops' conference further commented in an Aug. 10 statement.

"Given the development of doctrine involving the death penalty, the Catechism of the Catholic Church's treatment of the topic was revised earlier this month," the bishops' conference said.

The relevant section of the Catechism now reads "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person." It calls for the Church "to work with determination for its abolition worldwide," the bishops' conference said.

Drawing from the Catechism, Sheedy told the governor that the change "reflects the growing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of great crimes and that more effective forms of detention have been developed to ensure the due protection of citizens without definitively depriving the guilty of the possibility of redemption."

In addition to prayers for Minas, her family and her friends, Sheedy voiced prayers for Jimenez and "all those facing execution."

(source: Catholic News Agency)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

Nebraska to carry out state's 1st execution using lethal injection

Nebraska is scheduled to carry out its 1st execution using lethal injection in state history on Tuesday.

The state plans to execute Carey Dean Moore in what would be Nebraska's 1st execution in 21 years, using 4 drugs. Moore was sentenced to death for the 1979 killings of 2 taxi drivers in Omaha, Nebraska.

The last time Nebraska executed an inmate was in December 1997, when Robert Williams was put to death using the electric chair.

Judge denies effort by German drug maker to block Nebraska execution

Legal efforts by a German drug company Fresenius Kabi, to force Nebraska to return 2 of the injectable drugs it plans to use in the execution, were denied. Fresenius Kabi had raised questions about how the state obtained them and wrote in its lawsuit that the use of its drugs in capital punishment would cause "harm to its property interests.

But a judge last week rejected the claim.

The 2 drugs produced by Fresenius Kabi, which the state plans to use in the execution are cisatracurium, a muscle relaxer, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. They will be part of a 4-drug combination that also includes the sedative diazepam and the powerful painkiller fentanyl, which has helped fuel the ongoing opioid epidemic in the US.

Nebraska governor's support for death penalty

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is a staunch supporter of the death penalty. He told the New York Times earlier this month that he views his stance on the death penalty as compatible with his Catholic faith.

His comment came after the Catholic Catechism was revised at Pope Francis' direction and now calls the death penalty "inadmissible." The Catholic Catechism, the church's book of moral and religious teachings, had previously allowed the use of capital punishment in certain cases.

"While I respect the pope's perspective, capital punishment remains the will of the people and the law of the state of Nebraska," according to Ricketts's statement to the Times. "It is an important tool to protect our corrections officers and public safety. The state continues to carry out the sentences ordered by the court."

After Nebraska legislators overrode Ricketts' veto to outlaw the death penalty in 2015, he responded by personally investing money in a referendum to restore the death penalty, which passed the following year.

He has said that capital punishment can be justified.

"The Catholic Church does not preclude the use of the death penalty under certain circumstances: That guilt is determined and the crime is heinous. Also, protecting society," he said in a 2015 interview. "As I've thought about this and meditated on it and prayed on it and researched it, I've determined it's an important tool."

(source: CNN)

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Nebraska set to become 1st US state to use fentanyl in execution----Federal appeals court gives go ahead for execution on Tuesday on grounds it is the 'will of the people'

The 1st execution in the US using the opioid drug fentanyl is expected to take place on Tuesday after a federal appeals court rejected a German pharmaceutical company's move to block the killing.

The court gave the go ahead on Monday for Nebraska to put to death Carey Dean Moore on the grounds it is the "will of the people". Moore has been on death row for 4 decades for the 1979 murders of 2 cab drivers in Omaha.

Nebraska has included fentanyl - a synthetic opioid found in more than 20,000 overdose deaths in 2016 alone - in the cocktail of drugs it intends to use for its 1st execution in 21 years after struggling to buy pharmaceuticals in the face of opposition from manufacturers and distributors.

Moore, who has said he wishes to die, is among the longest serving prisoners on death row in the US.

Moore will be given the sedative Valium alongside fentanyl, a combination increasingly found in drug overdose deaths because they both suppress breathing.

The legal challenge to the execution by the German drug maker, Fresenius Kabi, was brought over the use of 2 other drugs included in the fatal cocktail which the company accuses Nebraska of obtaining illegally, potassium chloride to stop Moore's heart and a muscle relaxant.

The pharmaceutical company said it took no position on the death penalty but that its contracts with drug distributors bar sales for use in capital punishment.

Fresenius Kabi said there is a risk of grave harm to its reputation because it said Nebraska has not properly stored the drugs and that could lead to a botched and painful execution.

The director of the state's prisons, Scott Frakes, has refused to make public how Nebraska bought the drugs but said that those made by Fresenius Kabi expire within weeks and that, if they are not used now, the state would have to find new supplies.

The appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that said blocking the execution would "frustrate the will of the people" because 61% of voters in Nebraska voted to reinstate the death penalty 2 years ago after the state legislature abolished it.

The appeals court said that Fresenius Kabi was not likely to suffer irreparable injury from the use of its product.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Nebraska has accused the state's governor, attorney general and prisons department of failing to obey open records laws and described secrecy around the execution as "incredibly troubling".

"While more states are turning away from the death penalty, Nebraska officials are rushing to carry out an execution cloaked in secrecy with an untested 4-drug scheme that carries immeasurable risks for unnecessary pain and a botched execution," said Danielle Conrad, director of the ACLU Nebraska.

The state is not alone in seizing on fentanyl as an option, as the potent drug flooded into the US and moved to the heart of the opioid crisis.

A judge in Nevada indefinitely postponed an execution last month after another drug company objected to the use of one of its drugs in an execution where fentanyl was intended to provide the fatal dose.

In that case, the state was accused of deceiving one of the countryís largest pharmaceutical distribution companies into believing the drugs were intended for the prison hospital system.

(source: The Guardian)

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

60K sign petition to oppose Nebraska execution

Death penalty opponents say they have gathered more than 60,000 signatures calling on Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts to stop the state from carrying out its 1st execution since 1997.

Organizers submitted the petition to Ricketts on Monday after several last-ditch legal efforts failed to halt the execution .

Death-row inmate Carey Dean Moore is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 10 a.m. Tuesday for the murders of 2 Omaha cab drivers in 1979.

Death penalty opponents say letting the execution proceed runs afoul of the Catholic Church's recent statement that capital punishment is unacceptable in all cases.

Ricketts has argued he's carrying out the will of voters who chose to reinstate capital punishment after the Legislature abolished it in 2015.

(source: Associated Pres)

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'Just don't forget the victims:' Carey Dean Moore murder victims' sons speak ahead of execution----Family members of Maynard Helgeland, one of Carey Dean Moore's victims, are ready for it all to end. Most of all, they want their father to be remembered.

The ACLU filed a motion Monday to stop the execution of Carey Dean Moore, asking the Nebraska Supreme Court to stop the lethal injection until questions can be answered as to whether the state has the authority to carry out an execution.

Meanwhile, family members of Maynard Helgeland, 1 of Carey Dean Moore's victims, are ready for it all to end. Most of all, they want their father to be remembered.

It's been nearly 39 years with 7 failed execution attempts. Steve and Kenny Helgeland, the 2 sons of Maynard Helgeland, said in those years, Moore has been at the center of it all. They said Moore's victims, their father and Reuel Van Ness, have been only footnotes in the countless stories.

Hangeland and Van Ness were both cab drivers, 47-year-olds and veterans.

"When Mr. Moore is back in the news and it's another stay or another execution date, it makes us think about what happened and how it happened and why it happened," said Steve Helgeland. "Our father is dead for 1 simple reason and that is Mr. Moore wanted to kill somebody."

Kenny Helgeland was 23 when Moore killed his father. He shared a cab with his dad and they drove together every weekend. Kenny said he went to the horse races the fateful day Moore called his dad's car, Happy Cab No. 63.

"If I was with him that day I wouldn't be here today to see you," Kenny Helgeland said.

Steve Helgeland was just 13 at the time of his dads' death. His memories are few.

"Unfortunately Mr. Moore cut that a little short and we didn't have the opportunity to hear a lot of the stories or get a chance to talk to him or share some of those things," Steve Helgeland said.

Yet, Steve and Kenny Helgeland still remember their father and want others to do the same as his killer prepares to die.

They said their father was born in the 1930s. His mother was unmarried when she gave birth to him, something rarely accepted at the time, but her family welcomed him with open arms.

"His grandfather said to his mother, 'There's always room for one more at the table,' so that's why family has always been important to us -- still remains important to us."

It's why the 2 traveled to Lincoln for the execution.

"We're not here to dance on Mr. Moore's grave or anything like that," Steve Helgeland said. "We're here for Mr. Van Ness and my dad. Simple as that."

As far as plans for Moore to be killed by lethal injection, Steve Helgeland said that's up to the state.

"I'm a little more confident they'll get it done this time, but if something fell through I wouldn't be shocked," Steve Helgeland said.

They said Moore's execution would be justice and, in a sense, closure. It's a feeling they've waited patiently for.

"It'll at least close the book and we won't have to hear about Mr. Moore anymore, although I think his story will continue to echo in the history books as the longest serving inmate on death row," Steve Helgeland said.

While Moore may leave the headlines, what he did will always weigh on Steve and Kenny Helgeland's hearts.

"It's always going to ring in my mind, what happened," Kenny said. "It's never going to go away, that bell."

The Helgelands traveled from South Dakota for the execution. They will not watch Moore die Tuesday, but said they'll be at the prison to reflect and honor their father and Van Ness.

They empathize with Moore's family members, but at the same time think about the years they've been without their father.

"(Moore's family has) had 39 years to reconcile that," Steve Helgeland said. "I didn't get that opportunity." In all these years, the Helgeland brothers said they've never heard from Moore and don't need to.

"May God have mercy on his soul," Steve said.

(source: KETV news)

ARIZONA:

Ducey will uphold the death penalty----"At the same time, I took an oath to uphold the law in Arizona. And I'm going to continue to uphold the law."

Gov. Doug Ducey said he will obey Arizona law and not Pope Francis who has now declared that the death penalty is unacceptable in all cases.

But the governor said that, at least for the moment, he doesn't have to make that choice.

The issue arises because the pope, in the strongest statement ever, said earlier this month that executions are "an attack" on human dignity. And Francis promised to work "with determination" to abolish capital punishment wherever it still exists.

"I, of course, am going to listen to what the pope says," Ducey said on Monday when asked about it. The governor is a practicing Catholic.

"At the same time, I took an oath to uphold the law in Arizona," he continued. "And I'm going to continue to uphold the law."

Anyway, Ducey said, it's not like this is something new.

"This has been the catechism for some time of the church," he said, referring to the beliefs, laid on in writing of the Catholic faithful, saying that Francis was only "adding a qualifying comment."

But that has not exactly been the case.

In his 1995 Evangelium vitae - the Gospel of Life - Pope John Paul II said that execution is only appropriate in cases of absolute necessity, "in other words when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society" through non-lethal means. That language provided enough of an escape clause of sorts for Catholic officials like the governor who must sign death warrants.

What Francis said earlier this month effectively closes any loophole, at least as far as Catholic doctrine.

The governor sidestepped questions of whether he is saying that state statutes - and his oath to obey them - are superior to God's law, at least as interpreted by the pope.

"We can have an interesting discussion about that and about life," Ducey responded. And he pointed out that, at least for the time being, he doesn't have to make that choice.

"Thankfully, there's nothing on the docket in front of me at the time," he said.

The last execution in Arizona was in 2014, under Gov. Jan Brewer. Since that time a series of legal actions about the penalty and the drugs used to execute inmates have resulted in a virtual moratorium.

There are currently 117 inmates on "death row," including 3 women.

(source: wmicentral.com)

IRAN----execution

Execution of a Prisoner on Drug-Related Charges

A prisoner was executed at Tabriz Central Prison on drug-related charges last Wednesday.

According to a close source, on the morning of Wednesday, August 8, 1 prisoner was executed at Tabriz Central Prison. The prisoner, sentenced to death on drug-related charges, was identified as Eyvaz Bidast, son of Mohammad Taqi.

The prisoner was transferred to the solitary confinement from ward 9 of Tabriz Central Prison. He was arrested on drug-related charges 12 years ago. There is no information regarding the exact amount and type of the drug the defendant was charged with and it is not clear why his case was not subject to the new drug law.

This is the 3rd drug-related execution that has been reported by Iran Human Rights (IHR) since November 14, 2017, when the new drug law was enforced. The new drug law includes a mechanism that leads to a decrease in the number of death sentences and reduces the sentence of the death-row prisoners and those sentenced to life imprisonment.

Another prisoner named Rasoul Mohtashami, who was sentenced to death on murder charges, was transferred to the solitary confinement along with Eyvaz Bidast. He returned to his cell by asking the plaintiffs for time.

The execution of Eyvaz Bidast has not been announced by the state-run media so far.

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

Abolfazl Chazani's Execution Confirmed by the State-Run Media in Iran

One of the Iranian state-run media published a report about Abolfazl Chazani Sharahi, a juvenile offender who was arrested at the age of 15 and executed at Qom Central Prison, and confirmed his execution after 43 days.

Ghanoon newspaper published a report about Abolfazl Chazani Sharahi and confirmed his execution. IHR had previously reported the execution. Abolfazl, son of Asghar, was born on January 16, 1999, and was arrested and sentenced to death on the charge of murder on December 26, 2013.

Abolfazl was examined by a forensic physician at the request of his public defender on July 20, 2014. According to the report, "The defendant, 15 years and 5 months old, committed murder in the winter last year and he is mentally mature and understands the nature of his action (murder)."

According to the report, Abolfazl was nearly executed 4 times during the time he was in prison while he was only 15 the 1st time he went to the gallows. Mohammad, Abolfazl's brother, said, "He didn't know that after being transferred to the solitary confinement, he would be executed. He would fearlessly wear a smile like a child and say, "Everything's going to be fine; I won't be executed."

Mohammad continued, "We see the victim's father (the plaintiff) every day. He feels terrible because he pulled the stool away in order to do the execution. Pulling the stool away and hanging someone is not something you can easily forget... My brother was only 14."

Iran is one of the few countries that execute juvenile offenders, although, based on Article 91 of the new Islamic Penal Code, approved in 2013, judges can potentially deny issuing a death sentence for juveniles who do not understand the nature of their crime.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iran has signed, clearly bans execution and life imprisonment of juveniles.

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

Iran Regime Threatens Execution for 67 Arrested on Financial Crimes Charges

The Iranian Regime has arrested 67 people and threatened them with the death penalty as part of a supposed campaign against financial crime, as the Iranian economy plummets towards bankruptcy, but many have advised that this will not solve the crisis as the corruption in the Regime goes right to the top.

On August 12, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said: "67 suspects have been arrested, some of whom were released on bail, and more than 100 people including government employees and officials, as well as private employees and others have been given travel bans."

Human Rights Watch (HRW) responded to this with a statement, criticising Iran for its human rights abuse.

The New York-based rights watchdog said: "Executions, an inhumane and inherently irreversible punishment, are never the answer, and in this case can only distract from other causes of this economic turmoil. Today, officials increasingly talk about the need to combat corruption at every level. Yet to do so requires an independent judiciary that ensures due process rights for all those accused."

This announcement came just one day after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved a request from the judiciary to set up special courts for financial crimes.

His statement, as quoted by Iranian media, advised that swift punishments should be imposed on those accused of economic corruption. Notably, the word used was accused and not convicted, which should tell you everything about the Iranian judicial system.

Judiciary head Sadeq Amoli Larijani had proposed previously that new Islamic revolutionary courts, which would be able to try all suspects including those affiliated with the Regime, be set up to impose maximum sentences, including the death penalty, on those "disrupting and corrupting the economy".

Last month, the judiciary said that they had detained 29 people for "disturbing" Iran's economy and its "money and currency systems."

Since December, Iran has faced widespread protests against the failing economy and massive governmental corruption, with protesters loudly calling for the Regime to go. These protests were reinvigorated after the US reintroduced sanctions against the Regime last week, following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May. That deal lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for supposed restrictions on its nuclear programme, which Donald Trump has said were ineffective.

The Iranian Regime, reluctant to admit its own faults, have blamed the US for tanking its economy, despite the fact that the financial situation in Iran was dire for a long time before sanctions were reintroduced. The reason that Iran is in such dire straits is that the mullahs spent billions of dollars supporting terrorist groups, instigating war, and funding their extravagant lifestyles.

(source for all: Iran Human Rights)

AUGUST 13, 2018:

TEXAS:

Closing arguments expected Monday in 'honor killings' death penalty trial

Prosecutors Monday are expected to weave together more than 20 years of bad acts to convince a Harris County jury to sentence a Jordanian immigrant to death for killing his son-in-law and orchestrating the slaying of his daughter's close friend in what prosecutors said were "honor killings."

Defense lawyers for 60-year-old Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan likely will try to paint a picture of a devoted and traditional Muslim father caught between the culture of his homeland where patriarchs control their offspring and the modern world.

Both sides will have about an hour to give closing arguments Monday capping an 8-week capital murder trial in state District Judge Jan Krocker's court.

Defense attorney Allen Tanner opened the trial 2 months ago by saying it was a "chaotic" case and jurors would have a hard time figuring out what happened during 2 slayings in 2012.

After 5 weeks of testimony, the jury took less than an hour to convict Irsan of the double homicide of his 28-year-old son-in-law, Coty Beavers, in November 2012, and Gelareh Bagherzadeh, an Iranian activist who was a close friend of Irsan's daughter, 11 months earlier.

The same jury then spent 2 weeks listening to testimony to determine whether Irsan should be sentenced to death or life without parole.

They heard that Irsan also killed a different son-in-law in 2012. Irsan testified that it was in self-defense. Other family members said he blasted the young man in the chest with a shotgun because he did not approve of the marriage, then planted a pistol on the body.

To sentence Irsan to die, jurors will have to decide that he would be a "future danger" to society.

(source: Houston Chronicle)

MISSISSIPPI:

Mississippi man who hid bodies in Russell Co. sentenced after death penalty voided

A man whose death sentence was overturned in 2014 has been resentenced to life in prison.

State prison records show 44-year-old Roger Gillett was resentenced in July.

Gillett and then-girlfriend Lisa Jo Chamberlin were convicted of killing Gillett's cousin and the cousin's girlfriend in 2004 because they wouldn't open a safe. Dismembered bodies of Vernon Hulett and Linda Heintzelman were found stuffed in a freezer on a farm near Russell, Kansas.

The Mississippi Supreme Court voided Gillett's death sentence, finding jurors wrongly considered Gillett's attempted escape from a Kansas jail.

Forrest County District Attorney Patricia Burchell consulted victim families before deciding against the death penalty.

Chamberlin's death sentence was reinstated in March after a federal appeals court dismissed accusations of racial bias in jury selection.

(source: Associated Press)

INDIANA:

Man rapes, kills, eats girlfriend's dead body

An Indiana man Joseph Oberhansley accused of raping, killing and eating parts of his ex-girlfriendís dead body is now mentally competent to stand trial, and is ready to tell the court all he knows about the incident, a state psychiatrist says.

Fox News reports that the 35-year-old Oberhansley, of Jeffersonville, U.S., has been committed at the Logansport State Hospital since October 2017, when a judge ruled that he wasn't competent to stand trial for the 2014 killing of girlfriend Tammy Jo Blanton.

Prosecutors alleged that Oberhansley broke into the Jeffersonville home of Blanton in September 2014, and raped her, fatally stabbed her and ate parts of her body.

"This matter has been going on for 4 years now, and it's high time that the victim's family saw justice done," Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Mull told the Courier Journal after the hearing.

The letter from the psychiatrist filed with Clark County Circuit Court noted that Oberhansley's competency has been restored since he was committed there last October to undergo competency restoration.

In some of his early court appearances after his arrest, Obserhansley had outbursts in court and said his name was Zeus, WAVE3 reported. Oberhansley's attorneys requested in court Thursday to have a month to talk with him and form an opinion on his competency. During the hearing, Oberhansley spoke up, telling the judge he needed to fire his attorneys, according to the Courier Journal.

"They're trying to control my thoughts," he said in court; they're trying to control my mind." Judge Vicki Carmichael told him he needed to work with his attorneys, and scheduled another hearing on Sept. 21 to discuss the matter. Prosecutors have previously said they will seek the death penalty for Blanton's killing.

Before his arrest in 2015, Oberhansley was free on parole for a previous killing when he was a teenager, according to WAVE3.

(source: vanguardngr.com)

TENNESSEE:

America Has Stopped Being a Civilized Nation----In 1985, Billy Ray Irick committed a hideous crime in Tennessee. Last week, the state of Tennessee responded in kind.

On Thursday morning, The Knoxville News Sentinel published a front-page story by Matt Lakin about the imminent execution of Billy Ray Irick. The inmate had been on death row since 1986, a year after he confessed to raping and murdering a 7-year-old child left in his care. The little girl was named Paula Dyer. She called her murderer "Uncle Bill." The print headline read, "Paula Dyer's last day on Earth."

Thursday was Billy Ray Irick's last day on Earth. His execution was the 1st in Tennessee since 2009.

The physical evidence against him was incontrovertible, and no one is questioning his guilt. But there are big questions about whether Tennessee should have executed him. As Nashville Scene's Steven Hale has reported in depth, Mr. Irick apparently suffered from severe mental illness. He spent much of his childhood in a home for abused and troubled children. He told people the devil was giving him orders. He chased another little girl down the street with a machete.

Based on post-trial affidavits from Paula Dyer's stepfamily, the psychologist who pronounced Mr. Irick fit to stand trial in 1986 later questioned that judgment. "Is he fit for execution? That combination of words," Mr. Hale writes, "like so many in the lexicon of the death penalty, twists the English language into a peculiar shape. But it is crucial." In the United States, executing an insane person is unconstitutional.

Another problem with this execution is Tennessee's new protocol for lethal injection. The 1st drug administered in an execution is supposed to put the inmate to sleep so he can't feel the effects of the other 2 drugs: the 1 that causes paralysis and the one that stops the heart. But midazolam, the sedative in Tennessee's execution cocktail, doesn't always render complete unconsciousness. It's possible for the inmate to feel the effects of the next 2 drugs, and what he feels is akin to being suffocated and burned alive at the same time.

The United States Supreme Court had declined to delay the execution, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor strongly dissented: "In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the state of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody," Justice Sotomayor wrote. "If the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we have stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism."

This is the unvarying pattern in death-penalty cases: arguments in favor of lenience, arguments in favor of severity and a perfectly realistic assumption that nothing at all will change. Some victims will be more sympathetic than others. Some death-row prisoners will be harder to hate. Defense attorneys will point out extenuating circumstances. Critics will list the pragmatic arguments against the death penalty - from its failure to deter crime to the racial disparities in its application to its terrifying permanence.

It would be a tiresome litany if not for the fact that a human life hangs in the balance. It would be a tiresome litany if not for the fact that in state executions, the executioner is always you.

Plenty of people are happy to play the role of public executioner. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that 73 % of white evangelical Christians supported the death penalty in cases of murder. Even among Catholics, 53 % believe capital punishment is an appropriate response to a crime like Mr. Irick's. This is a curious position, coming from people who drive cars bearing "Choose Life" bumper stickers. It is especially curious considering Pope Francis's recent unequivocal condemnation of the death penalty. "The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," the Catechism of the Catholic Church now reads. That dignity "is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes."

Then too, there is the matter of our own dignity, the dignity of those of us in whose name and for whose "protection" the state has decided - in cold blood, with calm premeditation - to take a human life. We are not doing it out of fear or rage or insanity. We are doing it out of a primitive need for vengeance.

Paula Dyer was a beautiful little girl who deserved a full and happy life, but Billy Ray Irick's death didn't give it back to her. His death did not erase her terrible suffering or bring her back to the people who have mourned her loss for more than 3 decades. Justice Sotomayor is right. We are not a civilized nation. We aren't even close.

(source: Opinion; Margaret Renkl is a contributing opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South----New York Times)

NEBRASKA:

How Carey Dean Moore's execution, Nebraska's 1st lethal injection, will be carried out

Nebraska's official death penalty procedure says this week's execution of Carey Dean Moore will be accomplished by the injection of substances in a quantity sufficient to cause death without the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.

If a federal appellate court doesn't halt Moore's execution between now and 10 a.m. Tuesday, the prison staff members responsible for what sounds like a straightforward task will be under a high degree of scrutiny.

Nebraska has carried out 37 state-sanctioned executions, but Moore's will be the 1st by lethal injection. Bill Clinton occupied the White House the last time the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services executed an inmate, using the electric chair.

Moore, 60, has served for 38 years on death row for the 1979 killings of Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland. He has recently told friends and family that he is ready to die and does not want his execution halted.

Another factor at play Tuesday: The state will give Moore a 4-drug combination never used before in an execution. Death penalty critics have said that raises the likelihood of a botched execution, meaning it could take longer than normal or Moore could experience excess pain.

"Nobody is hoping things go wrong," said Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. "Everybody is hoping, if it happens, it happens smoothly."

Corrections Director Scott Frakes declined a request to be interviewed for this story.

But a former high-ranking member of the department said no one wants the execution to go smoothly more than staff members who will serve on the execution team.

"My concern is that it's been so long," said Brian Gage, who spent 34 years with corrections and served as warden of Tecumseh State Prison. "The majority of them will be new to an execution."

Based upon the state's protocol document, the execution team conducts training sessions at least once a month throughout the year. But when an execution date has been set, the frequency of training increases to at least once per week.

The Nebraska Supreme Court set Moore's execution date on July 5.

Execution team members volunteer for the duty, and most have their identities shielded under state law.

With the execution just 2 days away, Moore will have been transported from death row at the Tecumseh prison to a holding cell at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Gage said. The penitentiary houses the execution chamber.

He will be under what's called death watch, which means he will be closely monitored so he doesn't commit suicide.

At least 48 hours before the execution, the IV team leader will examine Moore to find appropriate veins to insert the IV needle. The IV team leader must have completed training as an emergency medical technician and in needle insertion.

As the hour of his execution approaches, Moore will be given expanded visiting time with his minister, family and friends. He also will be afforded the chance to eat a "final meal," which Gage said is not an elaborate dinner ordered from outside the facility. Rather, he can make a choice of whatever happens to be on the cafeteria's full menu at the time.

When the time arrives, Gage said members of the escort team will accompany Moore to the execution chamber. When the state last carried out an execution, the inmate walked from the holding cell down a set of stairs to the execution chamber.

Moore will then be placed on the padded table, where his arms, legs and torso will be secured in place by restraints. The escort team will then leave the room.

The IV team leader will set primary and backup IV lines in 2 of Moore's veins. The team leader will test the lines using saline fluid and will attach a heart monitor to the inmate.

When the corrections director gives the order, the IV team leader will begin the lethal injection. The sequence of drugs and doses to be injected:

2 milligrams of diazepam (a sedative) per kilogram of body weight followed by additional doses until the inmate is unconscious. A 50 cc saline flush will follow the diazepam.

25 micrograms of fentanyl (a powerful opioid painkiller) per kilogram of body weight, followed by a 50 cc saline flush.

1.6 milligrams of cisatracurium (a paralyzing drug intended to stop the inmate's breathing) per kilogram of body weight followed by a 50 cc saline flush.

240 milliequivalents of potassium chloride (a drug that causes heart attack in high doses) followed by a final saline flush.

After the diazepam is given, the IV team leader must conduct a consciousness check of Moore. Common methods include pinching an eyelid or cheek and calling his name. The inmate must be unconscious before the remaining 3 drugs are injected.

Lethal injections without obvious complications typically take about 10 minutes to result in death, Dunham said. But some botched executions have taken significantly longer.

If the staff member who sets the IV misses a vein and the drugs flow into the inmate's muscles, death can be prolonged and extremely painful, he said. Or if the inmate regains consciousness, he can experience an intense, burning pain from the potassium chloride, the drug that stops the heart.

A coroner or medical professional will check to determine whether Moore is dead after the four drugs are injected. If the coroner determines he is still alive, the IV team leader must carry out the injection sequence a 2nd time.

In a lawsuit heard Friday in federal court, a lawyer for a Germany-based drug company said state documents suggest the paralyzing drug has not been stored at the proper temperature by corrections staff. The lawyer said if the drug has degraded as a result, it may not work as prison officials hope.

Eric Berger is a professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law who has studied lethal injection for over a decade. In an opinion piece published by The World-Herald, Berger wrote that if the inmate is not properly anesthetized by the first 2 drugs, Moore could experience a sensation that's been described as "being burned alive from the inside" when the final drug, potassium chloride, enters his bloodstream.

"Nobody disputes that the injection of potassium chloride alone would violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment," Berger said.

Frakes, the prisons director, said in a court affidavit filed this week that he relied on "opinions of qualified pharmacological and medical anesthesiology experts" to come up with the drugs and dosages. In addition, he said the drugs underwent lab testing to confirm their composition.

(source: Omaha World-Herald)

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

Execution Witness talks about Carey Dean Moore case

Brent Martin is the current News Director for Nebraska Radio Network, but before he worked in Nebraska he was in Missouri as a News reporter, where he witnessed 13 different death penalty executions throughout his career.

"Our news organization believed that we needed to be there, again if the state's going to exact the ultimate punishment we need to be there to report to the public," says Brent Martin.

Martin says witnessing all of those executions taught him how to strike a balance between his duty as a reporter and his emotions.

"I think it's obviously very emotional and it maybe easy for me to say because I've been through it and all of that, but I think you kinda need to keep your emotions in check and view it as it is," added Martin.

When it comes to being on hand for an execution, Martin says the actual act falls short of expectations.

"Everybody who I've ever talked to uses the same word without prompting, anti-climatic, because you go in and you understand what it is, you understand what you're going into witness, you understand how important it is, what your role is as a reporter but the actual lethal injection protocol of the execution goes against what you think it will be, what you conjure up in your mind," said Martin.

Martin says he doesn't have a position on capital punishment, but says it's his duty to report on it for the public.

"I know people are adamant on both sides of the issue. There's got to be someone that's there who observes it and reports to the public and that's my role" says Martin.

(source: KLKN TV news)

USA:

Helping an Execution Is a Bad Look for a Drugmaker----What if the profit concerns of a European company can help stop the death penalty in the U.S.?

On the surface it sounds like a sick joke. The German drug manufacturer Fresenius Kabi is suing to block an execution in Nebraska - not because it opposes capital punishment, but because it would be bad for the company's public relations for its drugs to be used to kill. It's not the 1st time. Other drug companies have also tried to block executions using their products for similar reasons.

A federal district judge rejected Fresenius's suit Friday, but the company has appealed. Regardless of whether the Nebraska execution, scheduled for Tuesday, is delayed or halted, the effort is worth examining.

There is something morally bizarre, even horrifying, about the idea that a human being should live or die based on the PR concerns of a company thousands of miles away. Yet these efforts demonstrate what you might call the banality of good: Their official worries are based on ordinary corporate profit, but their actions nonetheless play a meaningful role in the long, slow process of reducing and maybe ultimately eliminating executions in the U.S.

Lethal injection is just the latest in a long string of efforts to make capital punishment more "humane," a dubious aspiration that had its European birth sometime in the 18th century and is a classic product of Enlightenment.

Humane execution is a kind of paradox: We want to end a person's life as a punishment, but we want to do so with minimal pain for the subject and minimal horror for the public.

In the European Middle Ages, this paradox didn't exist. Execution was generally intended to create spectacle and convey moral condemnation. Pain and suffering were part of the equation.

Burning witches was biblically inspired (if not strictly biblical). Drawing and quartering, a particularly horrible practice, was the punishment for treason against the crown. Hanging, the prescribed English punishment for ordinary felons, often had a torture component when the drop of the gallows wasn't long enough to break the subjectsí necks and they strangled slowly instead.

The guillotine, named for the French doctor Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814) who helped create it, was popularized during the French Revolution as a "humane" method of execution appropriate to an enlightened age. In its aftermath, executions have reflected new technological innovations, from electricity to poison gas.

Seen in this historical light, the use of drugs to paralyze and kill convicted murderers should come as no surprise. We live in an age of big pharma and trust in medications. No wonder we think drugs are a solution to the execution paradox.

Enter the death-penalty abolitionists. Many, probably most, abolitionists think that it is always wrong to take a human life by execution - the view recently adopted for the Catholic Church by Pope Francis.

Yet because the strong abolitionist argument has not had the moral force to convince everybody, death-penalty opponents have long relied on various pragmatic arguments in public and in the courts.

When the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 declared what turned out to be a temporary moratorium on all executions, it didn't hold that capital punishment was inherently wrong. In fact, the justices in the case of Furman v. Georgia couldn't agree on a single rationale for why the death penalty was cruel and unusual. The key element in most of their opinions was the arbitrariness of how the death penalty was applied, with evidence drawn from racial disparities.

Death-penalty opponents have also focused on the fallibility of the judicial system. Successful attempts to show that some death-row prisoners were actually innocent have undoubtedly contributed to the gradual decline of the number of executions in the U.S. in recent decades.

That brings us to the European drug companies. They assert, accurately enough, that capital punishment is outlawed in the European Union. And they say that the public climate of condemnation there gives them a reason to intervene in U.S. courts. Fresenius also says that neither it nor its authorized distributors provide drugs for executions, so Nebraska's supply must have been obtained without its authorization. The company's strongest argument is probably that mishandling of the drugs might hamper their effectiveness.

Companies like Fresenius aren't lying when they say they worry about their reputations. They are responding to public pressure brought on them by abolitionists, who are themselves trying to come up with any creative angle to block executions.

Yet the companies don't want to take a firmly moral stand against the death penalty, presumably to avoid creating further public controversy and perhaps also to make their claims seem somehow more valid.

The upshot is that the companies find themselves in the strange position of insisting in court filings that they don't care about matters of life and death, but only about the bottom line.

That's not a great look for Fresenius, a German company that was founded in 1912 and flourished through World War II. 1

But advocates seeking social change must use all the tools at their disposal to get it. That includes the banal self-interest of German drug manufacturers. At least it's being invoked as a force for good.

What about Fresenius during World War II? A company history skirts the issue. This corporate-sponsored document, "100 Years of Fresenius," says that founder Eduard Fresenius did not join the Nazi Party and that the company did not employ forced labor. It did supply the German army with drugs however, and its "output increased temporarily."

(source: bloomberg.com)

IRAN:

Iran Arrests 67 People In Drive Against Financial Crim----The decision comes amid a plunging national currency that has lost about 1/2 of its value in past weeks following a decision in May by U.S. President Donald Trump to leave the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose tough sanctions.

Iran's judiciary says the authorities have arrested 67 people in a drive against financial crime as the country faces renewed U.S. sanctions and public outcry against widespread corruption.

"67 suspects have been arrested, some of whom were released on bail, and more than 100 people including government employees and officials, as well as private employees and others have been given travel bans," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said in remarks carried by state television on August 12.

The remarks come as a day after the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, approved a request by the judiciary to set up special courts to deal with financial crimes.

Iranian media quoted Khamenei as saying in a brief statement issued on August 11 that punishments for those accused of economic corruption should be "carried out swiftly and justly."

New Islamic revolutionary courts will be directed to impose maximum sentences on those "disrupting and corrupting the economy," judiciary head Sadeq Amoli Larijani had proposed in a letter to Khamenei.

The request by the judiciary said the courts should be eligible to try all suspects, including "official and military" people. The sentences can include the death penalty.

The decision comes amid a plunging national currency that has lost about 1/2 of its value in past weeks following a decision in May by U.S. President Donald Trump to leave the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose tough sanctions.

The Central Bank of Iran and the judiciary have blamed "enemies" for the fall of the currency.

The judiciary said last month that 29 people have been detained for "disturbing" the nation's economy and its "money and currency systems."

(source: Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)

MALDIVES:

Capital punishment talk has deterred murders, pres claims

The talk of enforcing the death penalty has put a stop to gruesome and premeditated murders in the Maldives, incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom claimed Monday.

Since taking office in 2013, president Yameen has been pushing to enforce the death penalty after ending the de facto moratorium that has been in place in the country for over 6 decades.

In June 2016, capital punishment regulations were amended to allow for hanging in addition to lethal injections as methods of execution.

President Yameen has since been giving several dates to begin capital punishment, last of which was nearly a year ago.

Despite failure to implement capital punishment, president Yameen speaking after inaugurating a water network in Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi island on Monday, insisted that premeditated and remorseless murders were unheard of in the country not so long ago.

The president alleged that major crimes had spiraled out of control during the government of main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) adding that there had been around 30 recorded murders when he took office in 2013.

However, major crimes including murders has since ended after his government announced plans to enforce the death penalty.

"I promised to re-introduce capital punishment because my government cannot accept people killing each other. Since we made the announcement it has acted as a deterrent. The time of gruesome murders and assaults are in the past," he added.

President Yameen's claims came after renowned local blogger Yameen Rasheed had been hacked to death in the stairwell of his own home in April last year, while another young man was stabbed to death inside a motorbike showroom last July.

(source: avas.mv)

BANGLADESH:

Death penalty for 5 Patuakhali war criminals

The International Crimes Tribunal has handed down the death penalty to 5 men from Patuakhali for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971.

A 3-member bench of the tribunal headed by Justice Md Shahinur Islam handed down the verdict on Monday, reports UNB.

The convicts are: Ishak Shikdar, Solaiman Mridha, Abdus Sattar Peda, Abdul Goni Hawladar, and Awal alias Moulvi Abdul Awal. All of them hail from different villages in sadar upazila.

The charges of murder and rape against the 5 war criminals were proved by the tribunal.

Earlier on Sunday, the tribunal set Monday to deliver the verdict.

On May 30, the tribunal kept the verdict pending after the concluding arguments from both sides of the case.

Previously, on November 19, the tribunal took into cognizance the charges against them for their involvement in the crimes against humanity.

On September 6, 2015, police arrested 5 accused war criminals, from different parts of sadar upazila in Patuakhali district, on charges of: looting, killing, torturing, and arson during the Liberation War.

On March 8, 2017, charges were framed against them for violating 15 biranganas, torturing 17 women, and vandalising 15 houses.

(source: Dhaka Tribune)

MYANMAR:

Myanmar cardinal backs pope's opposition to death penalty----Bo says this stance should include opposition to violent sports and 'incremental' death sentences through victimization

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon in Myanmar has hailed Pope Francis' admonition that imposing the death penalty is always abominable.

The Catholic Church should never compromise its fundamental belief in the right to life, including on the issue of capital punishment, Cardinal Bo said in a statement released on Aug. 10.

"Even those who committed heinous crimes do have a right to life," he said.

The cardinal said a pronouncement on the issue by Pope Francis was an affirmation of the Church adopting a moral stance.

On Aug. 2, the Vatican approved a change in the text of the Catholic catechism that previously accepted the death penalty as a "last recourse."

The new text acknowledges that the "dignity of a person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes."

Pope Francis maintains the death penalty is fundamentally against the teachings of Christ because it excludes the possibility of redemption, does not give justice to victims and feeds a mentality of vengeance.

Cardinal Bo, 70, in his statement elaborated that human slavery, discrimination and violent conflicts, as well as the abuse of women and children in the sex industry, could constitute a form of death sentences for victims.

He further complained that martial arts such as kick boxing unreasonably give rise to the legitimization of violence as sport and entertainment.

Civilized societies needed to move away from these barbarous sports that provoke violent behavior, especially in children, and could indirectly lead to mass killings, Cardinal Bo added.

The prelate said the courageous position adopted by Pope Francis against capital punishment should inspire governments and civil society groups around the world to strive for the banning of dangerous sports as well as curtailing "incremental death sentences" through victimization.

(source: ucanews.com)

KENYA:

Disparity in murder sentences shows urgent need for clarity

The recent sentencing of Ruth Kamande and Erastus Odhiambo has made me question whether there is any uniformity in sentencing when it comes to capital punishment.

Both cases involved domestic violence - albeit the facts differed in one way or another. The 2 overriding issues for me are that both defendants were 1st-time offenders and claimed to be remorseful.

However, one case led to the death sentence and the other a minimum prison term of 20 years. It is quite challenging to try and understand what criterion was used to reach such differing sentences.

Ruth's matter was constantly in the news - print, visual and digital formats - much more than that of Erastus's or any other murder case going on at the time. This is a case that was unsafe from the word go, given the level of exposure it got in the media.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The influence 'trial by media' has in a case cannot be underestimated. The judges and prosecutors are human and, clearly, also malleable to the pressures imposed by the views of the masses.

There were many armchair 'experts' who constantly took to social media to share their views on the Kamande case. That in itself left the offender exposed and vulnerable. One cannot help but wonder whether miscarriage of justice was inevitable in a case that had been tried and concluded elsewhere prior to the formal court hearing.

The issue of domestic abuse is one that also has many foggy areas in as far as the law is concerned. In the minds of most perpetrators, a slap here and there is alright. However, it is a matter that is much more complicated. It has branches of physical violence, emotional and psychological abuse, coercion and control, financial abuse and many other forms of abuse to be added on as we learn more about the matter.

SLOW BURNER

Provocation, when it comes to domestic violence, is one issue that has been problematic. However, a judge worth his salt should determine, all factors considered, the level of provocation involved.

To many victims or survivors of domestic abuse, provocation could be in form of a slow burner of emotional and psychological abuse. In other cases, it could be one instance of provocation that could lead to a fatality in a fit of anger.

In my opinion, provocation in homicide cases would need to be carefully scrutinised so that it meets the threshold of intention to murder. Death is an emotive issue, much more so in situations of domestic violence. Nonetheless, it is important to rise above the broad understanding of murder and look at the minutiae of details that led to murder in that situation.

MENTAL IMPAIRMENT

In some cases, homicide in domestic abuse has been linked to mental health impairment of perpetrators. It is, therefore, also crucial to fully grasp the mental state of the offenders before, during and after the incident to determine whether, indeed, the issue at hand would qualify to be murder, manslaughter or assault.

The mental impairment factor is also a rather challenging one. There is the whole notion of temporary insanity, which is possible in cases of provocation. However, there is also a clear case of having an offender who may, indeed, have had mental health impairment such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, psychopathy or sociopathy.

REHABILITATED

Mental health in a domestic violence setting is one area that has not been fully understood and needs attention to save many more lives from deranged violent partners.

In the cases of Ruth and Erastus, the difference in sentencing for nearly similar offence is of concern and has the potential to lead to further miscarriage of justice. For a young offender of murder, and a remorseful one for that matter, it is better to set charges that consider the fact that she would have time to reflect and be deterred from repeating the crime. In that, they can be rehabilitated to become useful members of the society.

The 2 cases challenge the fairness in the due process of the law. There is a need to review our sentencing guidelines to avoid further confusion and injustice. Death is the ultimate sentence and, in case of mistakes, it is one difficult sentence to undo.

CONSENSUS

The other disparity is in the confusion as to whether capital punishment should even be handed down in Kenya, when there has been consensus for it to be outlawed. It is more than 30 years since the last person was hanged in Kenya. It is also simply unjust to let people wallow in perpetual state of anxiety once the death sentence is passed but spend years waiting to be executed.

There is a need for urgent reform to review the death sentence and give clarity to judges and magistrates as it has the greatest potential of leading to miscarriage of justice. In itself, the death penalty should be outlawed. It is barbaric and inhumane.

(source: Kalltum Guyo, nation.co.ke)

AUGUST 12, 2018:

LOUISIANA:

On the death penalty and unanimous juries

Interestingly, a flawed and controversial decision by Pope Francis on capital punishment also yields some insights into whether Louisiana should require unanimous jury verdicts for felony cases.

Earlier this month, the pope announced a change in the Roman Catholic Church's Catechism, the document outlining basic church beliefs.

Francis said henceforth the Catechism would declare capital punishment entirely "inadmissible." The church had previously supported executions for dire cases that ensured protection of society. A Vatican official called the change needed to reflect the present "political and social situation" that made the death penalty an affront to "dignity of a person." The change is an explicit rejection of past doctrine that retribution may be just and even redemptive.

As theologically questionable as Francis' action may be, it still can provide a guidepost to thinking about capital punishment.

The death penalty becomes morally justifiable when it saves lives, largely through deterrence, as much high-quality, nonpartisan research amply demonstrates. This squares fully with the Catechism's instructions about "legitimate defense," affirming the morality of taking a life to preserve innocent ones.

Yet much of that same research shows the deterrent effect disappears when the death penalty falls into disuse. Logically, if a potential murderer believes chances of his execution for that crime approach zero, he doesn't fear capital punishment as much.

The odds of being executed fall greatly when death sentences get bogged down in endless appeals, which is the present state of affairs in Louisiana. Dozens of inmates here have languished on death row for decades.

Actually, few individuals have death sentences thrown out because a jury just got it wrong. Most reversals involve some other circumstance, such as prosecutorial misconduct, but in rare instances, post-trial evidence comes to light to corroborate the innocence of a death row inmate. If there are fewer close calls among jurors, there's a smaller chance of a mistake.

Convictions by split juries - currently, in Louisiana, for felonies only 10 of 12 jurors need to vote to convict - likely involve more of these close calls, as the clearer the evidence of guilt, the less likely any juror would dissent. So requiring jury unanimity bolsters confidence in the system, which should reduce obstacles to carrying out executions. That would give capital punishment more teeth, making it more of a deterrent.

This fall, Louisiana residents will vote on a proposal to amend the state constitution to require unanimous juries for felony convictions. They should. Requiring unanimous juries for felony cases could help prevent wrongful convictions. It would also strengthen the death penalty, making it more likely that potential killers think twice before ending the lives of innocent victims.

Meanwhile, Louisiana Catholics should pray that the Holy Father's rewriting of the Catechism on the death penalty doesn't undermine the church's claim of teaching eternal truths.

(source: Jeff Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, where he teaches Louisiana government----The Advocate)

TENNESSEE:

As I watched Billy Ray Irick executed, I could feel the heartbeat of another mom

As I watched Billy Ray Irick die Thursday, I couldn't stop thinking about Paula Dyer, the sweet little 7-year-old Knoxville girl he savaged and suffocated, and the mother who never got to kiss her goodbye.

I was supposed to be at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution to document Irick's death - to watch and witness how the state killed him.

A Knox County jury, way back in 1986, sentenced him to die for grabbing little Paula, forcing her into a bedroom, barricading the door as her siblings screamed, holding that child down, covering her mouth, raping her over and over, then casting her aside inside her Exeter Avenue home.

Thirty-three years after his crimes, I sat in a tiny room, a note pad and pencil in my hand with instructions to watch him die.

But my eyes kept shifting from the gurney where Irick was dying - with his eyes closed and his body barely moving - to a room just a few feet away from me where Paula's mother, Kathy Jeffers, sat watching, too.

I couldn't see her. The execution chamber is designed that way - to keep folks who know nothing of a survivor's pain away from their display of it. But I could feel her heart beat as a fellow mother.

We mothers do all we can to raise good kids and keep them safe. Kathy Jeffers certainly did. She was raising 5 children and working as a waitress at a truck stop to keep them fed. Little Paula was already an honor student and as friendly as she was adorable.

Irick was the bogeyman we mothers fear - a predator disguised as a friend, the monster - not in the closet or under bed - but in your neighborhood or even your home.

Of course, Irick didn't set out to be a monster. He was an innocent boy, too, before the bogeymen in his life - cruel caretakers and untreated mental illness - did their damage.

The seats in the witness room reserved for a condemned man's loved ones were empty. Irick's last kiss came from a lawyer. The mom in me hurt for him, too, as I watched him staring at the ceiling as his unseen executioners prepared the drug cocktail intended to kill him.

Whether he suffered as he died, I can't tell you. He didnít show signs of it. He closed his eyes. His breathing grew labored and raspy, a bit loud. But he never moved. His breathing slowed and quieted within minutes - others kept better notes on the timing of his death - and then he simply stopped breathing.

I didn't get to ask Kathy Jeffers what she felt when she watched a man, largely unrecognizable from that bogeyman he was 33 years ago, die for killing her innocent daughter. She's walked these years of grief privately and she did so again on Thursday - arriving and leaving quietly, avoiding the waiting cameras.

The journalist in me would have been compelled to ask her if justice had been served in that roughly 20 minutes of scripted death inside the execution chamber.

But the mom in me already knew that answer. The bogeyman is dead, but Kathy Jeffers is doing life without her precious Paula. There's no justice in that.

(source: Jamie Satterfield is a legal affairs investigative journalist for Knoxville News Sentinel, where this column first appeared----brinkwire.com)

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From gallows to gurney: 6 of East Tennessee's most infamous executions

Billy Ray Irick became the 6th man in Tennessee to die by lethal injection on Thursday night.

A total of 132 men have died like Irick - either by poison cocktail or electrocution - since Tennessee began carrying out executions at the main state prison in Nashville in 1916.

Before that, sheriffs hanged the condemned in the counties of their crimes. An estimate by the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks capital punishment in the U.S., places Tennessee's hangings through those years at 210.

Here's a half-dozen of East Tennessee's most infamous executions, from the gallows to the electric chair to the gurney.

John Bane was convicted in Memphis for the 1988 robbery and strangulation murder of Royce Frazier. Frazier's body was found in his bathtub.

From hoods to hanging

The spectacle offered everything but a big top on July 7, 1899, when men, women and children gathered on the courthouse lawn in Sevierville to see Pleas Wynn and Catlett Tipton hanged side-by-side.

The 2 Sevier County farmers had become the face of the masked vigilantes that terrorized rural communities for years in a kind of gangland war.

Farmers in the rural Emert's Cove community initially banded together for masked nighttime raids to drive out local prostitutes. A counter-vigilante group, the Bluebills, formed, and the rivalry spiraled into a series of fatal shootouts and ambushes.

The violence climaxed when whitecaps killed a tenant-farming couple, William and Laura Whaley. Their landlord had hired the men for $200 to force the couple out.

The killing sparked a crackdown by the state Legislature that led to the arrests of Wynn and Tipton, identified by Laura Whaley's sister, who'd watched the murders as she hid under a bed. Her testimony earned them a death sentence.

Wynn was led to the river to be baptized before the noose graced his neck. Each found the time to address the crowd before the trapdoor swung open.

"Let my evil deeds be forgotten," Tipton begged the spectators. "If I ever did any good, I hope it will be remembered."

Last man hanging

The crowd that gathered outside the Knox County Courthouse on Main Street went home disappointed on March 23, 1908, when Sheriff Lum Reeder decided to close the night's hanging to the public.

John McPherson, 24, became the last man hanged in the county. He fidgeted on the gallows inside the jail and asked the sheriff to loosen the rope as the clock ticked to the appointed hour.

McPherson had killed a deputy, William Walker, 2 years earlier as he made his getaway from killing another man, Grant Smith, in a drunken rage. He'd hidden in the coal mines of West Virginia for a year before authorities tracked him down.

"He drew a number of long breaths and inflated his lungs and held his breath when the trap was dropped," a reporter for the Knoxville Sentinel wrote. "He was a perfect specimen of humanity, and very strong."

4 in a day

The lights at the Tennessee State Prison dimmed 4 times the morning of March 1, 1922 - once for each of the men strapped into the electric chair inside an hour.

Tom Christmas, Charles Petree, John McClure and Otto Stephens sat down one after the other to pay with their lives for the robbery that killed George Andrew Lewis in Anderson County. It's the only recorded quadruple execution in Tennessee history.

The 4 kidnapped Lewis and taxi driver Andrew Crumley the night of May 30, 1921, and left them to die - bound and gagged with their throats slashed - near a gravel quarry in the Robertsville community. Lewis died. Crumley survived, worked himself free and found help at a nearby farmhouse.

The 4 used the taxi the next day as a getaway car in a failed robbery of the Oakdale Bank and Trust in nearby Roane County. They didn't count on being caught by an armed posse and identified by Crumley.

An Anderson County jury sentenced all 4 to die. Guards at the death house threw the switch first for Petree at 6:15 a.m. The lights blinked for the last time just before 6:50.

'Innocent as the sun that shines'

Maurice Mays never gave up proclaiming his innocence - not until the executioner's current cut his life short.

Mays died at age 35 in the electric chair March 15, 1922 - nominally for killing Bertie Lindsey, a white woman shot by an intruder in the bedroom of her North Knoxville home. But supporters suspected Mays' only true crime to be defiance of a segregated society.

Mays, a black man rumored to be the illegitimate son of Knoxville's white mayor, paid no mind to the written and unwritten laws of his day. He dated white women, ran back-alley bootleg and gambling operations, and helped organize black voters for the city political machine.

The night Lindsey died, police headed straight to Mays' home, led by Andy White, an officer who'd cursed and threatened Mays for years. The only witness to the shooting, Lindsey's cousin Ora Smyth, who'd been sharing a bed with her that night, took just one look at Mays under the dim glow of a streetlamp and pronounced him "the man."

A white mob blasted into the county jail with dynamite in a vain search for Mays the next day. He'd been spirited to Chattanooga by the sheriff. He stood trial less than a month later in front of an all-white jury that took 18 minutes to find him guilty.

A 2nd trial ordered by the state Supreme Court ended with the same verdict and sentence - death. Despite pleas from prominent Tennesseans white and black, Gov. Alf Taylor refused to intervene.

Mays, his health ruined by the years of confinement, walked his last steps to the electric chair on crutches.

"I am as innocent as the sun that shines," he said from the death seat. "I hope the politicians are satisfied."

He was still speaking when the current silenced him forever. Efforts to clear his name over the decades, including entreaties to Gov. Bill Haslam, have failed.

Shootout with the sheriff

Gus McCoig had 2 main skills: he could pick the guitar, and he could point a gun.

The guitar got him girls. The gun got him a seat in the electric chair.

McCoig made a name for himself as a young man hot-rodding the highways of Appalachia through the early 1930s with outlaws like Clarence Bunch, East Tennessee's counterpart to John Dillinger. Their exploits ended in 1934 with Bunch dead from a hail of bullets and McCoig behind bars in the Tennessee State Penitentiary. But McCoig wasn't ready to bow out.

He and fellow inmate Pete Dean kidnapped a deputy warden and escaped the prison, then made their way to New Tazewell, Tenn., where they and a third bandit, Frank Hopson, robbed the Citizens Bank on Dec. 6, 1935, and headed south on state Highway 33.

Union County Sheriff L.B. Hutchison was ready. He and a deputy staked out the highway at the bridge over the Clinch River and gave chase.

The sheriff wasn't ready when the getaway car stopped and McCoig shot him dead - just as a Greyhound bus full of passengers drove up.

The gang split up, and McCoig stayed on the run until February 1936. Officers finally caught up with him in a Cumberland County tourist camp, where they found him strumming his guitar and singing a prison worksong.

"Here I go to ride that long trail, not to come back," he sang as deputies led him away.

He was right. McCoig died in the chair April 3, 1937.

Last of a generation

William L. "Willie" Tines was less than 2 years from parole when he broke out of Brushy Mountain Prison. His escape route led him to the electric chair.

Tines was serving a 99-year sentence for killing 2 men in Knoxville when he and a couple of other inmates split from a wood-chopping detail April 23,1957, outside the prison near Petros. The next day, a black man wearing striped convict pants broke into a home on state Highway 61 near Harriman and walked in on a white housekeeper as she ironed clothes. A struggle knocked the phone off the hook, and neighbors on the party line heard her scream.

Officers found the woman beaten and bloody, with her eyes swollen shut and her nose broken. She said she'd been raped. As an armed posse fanned out along the highway, Tines flagged down a passing state trooper to give himself up.

He admitted he'd broken into the house. But he denied he raped the woman.

He signed a confession to rape. But he couldn't read or write.

The woman testified she couldn't swear what her attacker looked like. A Roane County jury deliberated 25 minutes before finding Tines guilty.

Three years of appeals and bids for clemency followed. On Nov. 7, 1960, Tines took his seat where 124 men had sat before.

"Pray for me," he asked as the guards fastened electrodes to his body.

7 minutes later, a doctor pronounced him dead.

"He stood up well at the end," the warden remarked later.

No one knew it then, but Tines's death marked the last inmate executed in Tennessee for a generation. Forty years would pass before the next inmate, Robert Glen Coe, died on the lethal-injection gurney on April 19, 2000.

(source: Knoxville News Sentinel)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

2nd drug maker joins lethal injection lawsuit against Nebraska

A 2nd drug-maker has joined the lethal injection fight.

Sandoz Inc. joined the appeal drug maker Fresenius Kabi filed after a judge denied their claims Friday. Judge Richard Kopf told the company there is no proof their drugs would be used in the execution of Carey Dean Moore, because the State of Nebraska has not revealed its suppliers.

Sandoz manufactures the muscle relaxant Cisatracurium. It is the 2nd of 4 drugs that will be used in the execution.

In the suit, the company said if the drugs did come from them, it wants them back. The company also requests a temporary restraining order on their use, which could put a stay on the upcoming execution.

There's still no word on when the appeals hearing will happen.

Moore's execution is still scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m.

(source: KETV news)

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History of the death penalty in Nebraska

1903 - Gottlieb Neigenfind is the 1st person to be executed by the state of Nebraska by hanging. Earlier executions were carried out by individual counties.

1913 - Nebraska's execution method changes from hanging to electrocution.

1972 - The U.S. Supreme Court struck down capital punishment statutes in Furman v. Georgia, reducing all death sentences pending at the time to life imprisonment.

1976 - Nationwide, the death penalty is reinstated.

1979 - Legislature repeals death penalty; vote is vetoed by Gov. Charles Thone.

1982 - Legislature excludes offenders younger than 18 from death penalty.

1994 - Harold Otey, who raped and murdered Omaha student and waitress Jane McManus in 1977 is the 1st person executed since Charles Starkweather in 1959.

1996 - John Joubert, who confessed to killing Danny Jo Eberle and Christopher Walden in Sarpy County, is executed.

1997 - Robert Williams is executed for the 1977 murders of Catherine Brook and Patricia McGarry of Lincoln.

1998 - Legislature excludes developmentally disabled offenders from death penalty. A year later Jerry Simpson and Clarence Victor are taken off death row because their IQs are less than 70.

1999 - Nebraska is the 1st state in the nation to pass a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty while it studies the fairness of its application. The Legislature unanimously overrides Gov. Mike Johanns' veto.

2000 - Nebraska Supreme Court vacates the death sentence of Randy Reeves because he was sentenced with improper procedures. Reeves had been sentenced to death for the drug-induced murders of Janet Mesner and Victoria Lamm in Lincoln in 1980. Reeves is sentenced to 2 life terms instead.

2001 - Peter Hochstein and Michael Anderson are taken off death row and given life in prison because their sentencing judicial panels could not reach a unanimous decision to impose the death sentence. Anderson and Hochstein had been sentenced to death for the 1975 murder-for-hire of an Omaha businessman.

2007 - Nebraska Legislature comes within 1 vote of passing a repeal bill.

2008 - Nebraska Supreme Court rules the electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment. Nebraska is the last state with electrocution as its sole means of execution.

2009 - During a special session, the Legislature makes lethal injection the state's new method of execution; appeals and lack of the drugs needed to implement it prevent the state from using it.

2012 - A Swiss pharmaceutical company recalls the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental held by Nebraska, because it says it was illegally obtained and sold by a middleman. The drug later expires.

2015 - The Legislature passes a bill abolishing the death penalty, which is vetoed by Gov. Pete Ricketts. The 49-member legislature overrides the veto, 30-19. It is the 1st time a state with a predominantly Republican legislature has repealed the death penalty since North Dakota abolished the death penalty in 1973.

2015 - The Food and Drug Administration halts delivery to Nebraska of execution drugs from a distributor in India. The state is later unsuccessful in attempting to be reimbursed for $26,700 it paid.

2016 - Nebraska voters approve a ballot question 61 to 39 % reversing the Legislature's repeal of the death penalty and restoring capital punishment in the state.

2018 - The Nebraska Supreme Court sets an execution date of Aug. 14 for condemned prisoner Carey Dean Moore.

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

Sandoz seeks to intervene in drug manufacturer's Nebraska execution lawsuit

Another drug company has jumped into the last-minute flurry of legal protests of the state's lethal injection drugs.

Sandoz Inc. filed a brief Saturday in federal court asking to intervene in a lawsuit filed last week by drug manufacturer Fresenius Kabi. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf ruled on that complaint Friday afternoon, denying a temporary restraining order and allowing the execution of Carey Dean Moore to go forward as planned on Tuesday.

Fresenius Kabi has appealed, and Sandoz's motion to intervene will be heard by Kopf on Monday at 10 a.m.

Sandoz is a manufacturer of cisatracurium, a muscle relaxant, and wants to force the state to identify the manufacturer of the drug to be used in Moore's execution.

"The use of cisatracurium in this unauthorized manner will cause substantial reputational and other harm to Sandoz, and compromise Sandoz's longstanding efforts to ensure its products are not used for capital punishment," the complaint said.

The drug has never been used in an execution, nor tested or approved for that purpose, the company said.

"The proposed misuse of the drug in executions is therefore experimental and without precedent establishing that it can be administered without causing unconstitutional suffering," it said.

Sandoz seeks an injunction to require the Nebraska Department of Corrections to disclose the drug's manufacturer and distributor.

Sandoz has for years been steadfast in disallowing use of its drugs for off-label use for lethal injection, the company said. In 2011 it took steps to prevent the sale of sodium thiopental in the U.S., a drug frequently used in lethal injection cocktails.

In 2013 it put restrictions on rocuronium bromide to prevent its capital punishment use. In 2017 it put those restrictions on Anectine, a paralytic. That same year, it began to add distribution restrictions for cisatracurium when customer agreements came up for renewal.

Sandoz sent a letter to Corrections Director Scott Frakes this year, and a 2nd one to Frakes, Gov. Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson in August, objecting and requesting they immediately disclose whether the cisatracurium to be used in Nebraska's protocol was manufactured by Sandoz.

The drug is made by multiple companies.

In his ruling on the Fresenius Kabi lawsuit, Kopf said he did not believe its reputation would be irreparably harmed if the execution proceeds using the drugs cisatracurium and potassium chloride, which the company believes are from its supplies.

But the state of Nebraska would be "greatly and irreparably harmed," he said, if he stopped the execution.

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

Untested drug concoction still on track for Nebraska execution

Condemned Nebraska prisoner Carey Dean Moore has made it clear he prefers not to stay on death row the rest of his life. He's ready to die.

Saying the time had come, after seven prior dates with death imposed but not carried out by the state, a federal judge on Friday accommodated Moore, ruling against a drug company that asked for a delay.

It's been 39 years since Moore took his little brother with him to rob a cabbie and kill his 1st victim, Reuel Van Ness Jr., then kill a 2nd man, Maynard Helgeland, by himself.

Although the drug company has appealed Friday's court ruling, Moore is not fighting his execution.

He has named his witnesses: His brother David Moore; a friend, Gary Cross; a niece, Taylor Brouillette; his spiritual adviser and friend, Bob Bryan. He has asked for the state to pay for his cremation, according to prison documents, and would like his ashes given to his brother David.

He is scheduled to die Tuesday morning, and the state appears ready to proceed, even with an untested combination of 4 drugs, 3 of which - fentanyl, diazepam and cisatracurium - have not been used in capital punishment. The protocol was put in place by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Outside of a short list of people with the need-to-know, no one else has been told details of how Director Scott Frakes and prisons staff came up with the protocol. Frakes said in an affidavit last week he relied upon "expert opinions of qualified pharmacological and medical anesthesiology experts." He also got legal advice from Nebraska assistant attorneys general.

The combination is an unusual one, in which there is no experience as to how the dosages and drugs will work together to cause death. The drugs actually are meant not to cause death, but to relieve pain, reduce anxiety, facilitate surgery or treat medical conditions.

* Diazepam, first marketed as Valium, acts as an anti-anxiety medication and has a sedative effect.

* Fentanyl citrate, a potent narcotic painkiller, is an opioid said to be 30-50 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine. It can cause respiratory depression, stop a person's breathing and render them unconscious.

* Cisatracurium besylate is a muscle relaxant and in high enough doses can paralyze the muscles, including those used for breathing.

* Potassium chloride is used to treat or prevent low potassium levels in the body. Too much can cause heart failure.

* * *

Attorney Eric Berger, associate dean and professor of the Nebraska College of Law, is concerned about the concoction of drugs. It's not clear, he said, that the initial drugs in the protocol can sufficiently prevent the pain - he called it excruciating pain - that the last 2, cisatracurium and potassium chloride, could cause.

"I'm not saying that the execution will necessarily be painful, but I am saying that the state has thrown together an especially novel and problematic protocol that raises serious questions," he said.

The paralytic to be used, Berger said, could conceal the pain an inmate might feel.

Compounding that, Berger said, it's not certain how competently the protocol will be carried out. The qualifications, training and procedures of those administering the drugs are unknown, he said. And prison officials have not revealed where they got the drugs, how they were manufactured and what testing assures they are what they purport to be.

Frakes has said only that the drugs were purchased legally from a pharmacy in the U.S.

Because Moore hasn't allowed his attorneys to challenge the protocol, the state thus far hasn't had to defend it in court, Berger said.

* * *

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, the state's highest profile opponent of the death penalty, has diligently worked behind the scenes to derail the execution, staying up late at night, getting up early in the morning.

He contacted manufacturers of drugs he thought might be used in Moore's execution to persuade them to attempt, through the courts, to stop the use of any of their drugs.

Companies have made successful arguments elsewhere defending their reputations and missions, and the fact that their medicines are meant to cure or enhance health and not to kill.

"Anything that can contribute to derailing this execution ought to be done," he said. "And that's a self-imposed obligation on me."

It's not enough to request any drugs to be used in an execution be returned, Chambers said. The companies have to go all the way to the mat with the state if they really mean to defend their reputations, integrity and mission, he said.

He was pleased Fresenius Kabi stepped in with a lawsuit, even if it was, so far, unsuccessful.

Fresenius Kabi sought to stop the use of what it believes are 2 of the drugs, cisatracurium besylate and potassium chloride, it makes and supplies to wholesalers and distributors.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf denied a temporary restraining order. The company has appealed.

On Saturday, Sandoz Inc. filed a brief with the federal court to intervene in the lawsuit, saying a Sandoz product, cisatracurium, could be used by the state in an unauthorized manner, and seeking an order to immediately force the state to identify the manufacturer of the drug.

Chambers, too, has been in close contact with Jeff Pickens, chief counsel of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, who represents Moore, to the extent Moore would allow.

And he wrote a letter to Chief Justice Mike Heavican, pointing out what he believed was the fatal flaw in the request from Attorney General Doug Peterson to set an execution date for Moore. The court would not read the letter, considered an ex parte communication, he said, but communication from the court said it would put it into the record.

"I didn't want to leave any stone unturned," Chambers said. "And if this bad thing had happened, I wouldn't want to look at it after the fact and say this I could have done. And if I could have done it, I should have done it. But that would be too late."

You never know when you might strike the right chord, he said.

* * *

Brent Martin, news director with Nebraska Radio Network, observed 13 lethal injection executions in Missouri between 1996 and 2005. He was selected by the Corrections Department to represent radio media for Moore's death.

All of the executions he witnessed were carried out with a 3-drug protocol: Sodium thiopental, which rendered the inmate unconscious; pancuronium bromide, which stopped breathing; and potassium chloride, which stopped the heart. Missouri has since moved to a 1-drug protocol, using pentobarbital.

Martin said every witness he has talked to says the same thing about lethal injection executions.

"You go into it the 1st time you ever witness one with so much foreboding. It is such a solemn, sober responsibility. ... It has a certain emotional weight that just is unlike anything you ever do as a reporter," he said.

But then to actually see it, lethal injection is so almost antiseptic, it becomes anticlimactic, he said.

In Missouri, condemned inmates could choose to have midazolam, marketed under the trade name Versed, before the execution as a sedative or to decrease anxiety. Midazolam has become controversial when used as part of an execution protocol.

The 1st drug, sodium thiopental, a fast-acting anesthetic, usually elicited the only response from the inmate, Martin said, a cough or a slight rising up from the gurney. After that, there was no movement until prison officials announced the execution was complete.

Normally, it took 5 minutes from the time the 1st drug was administered, Martin said. Frequently, however, there were delays before the start - sometimes minutes, sometimes hours.

If witnesses felt anxious about witnessing someone die, he said, they were told to review the case file of what the inmate did to get there.

"We always believed it was a solemn responsibility, when the state decided to exact the ultimate punishment, that we be there to view it for the public, and to ensure it was done correctly, humanely if that's applicable," he said.

* * *

The next condemned killer who has been notified of the drugs the state plans to use in his execution is Jose Sandoval, convicted of killing 5 people at a bank branch in Norfolk. But Sandoval, unlike Moore, could present a legal challenge against the execution protocol and tie the state up in litigation, Berger said.

The state has the upper hand in that kind of lawsuit, because both the U.S. Supreme Court and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals have shown hostility to inmates' legal challenges of lethal injection protocols, he said.

But the Nebraska protocol is so unusual, a judge might conduct a trial to get more information, he said.

"It is becoming increasingly unlikely that states can get their drugs from what might be called 'big pharma,' from major pharmaceutical companies," Berger said.

Those companies, like Alvogen, Hikma, Lundbeck, APP Pharmaceutical, Fresenius Kabi, Sandoz, are more and more unwilling to sell their drugs for a state's use in executions.

Frakes told the federal court last week in an affidavit that one of the department's drugs, potassium chloride, is set to expire this month, and the state doesn't have any way to buy more to comply with state law and protocol.

Some states started using just 1 drug, and Nebraska could try changing its protocol, which would require a public administrative hearing and approval by the governor and attorney general.

3 states have made available alternative methods for carrying out the death penalty. One of those is nitrogen hypoxia, a method available in Missouri, Oklahoma and Alabama.

Nitrogen hypoxia would cause death by the inmate breathing in pure nitrogen, which keeps the brain from getting enough oxygen. It would be a new method, never before used in executions.

If the state would move away from lethal injection as a method of enforcing the death penalty, it would require the Legislature to write a bill, hold a hearing, get it out of committee, debate it and pass it with at least 25 votes, or more than likely 33 to break a filibuster.

(source for all: Lincoln Journal Star)

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

Moore's execution must wait for state's answers

Carey Dean Moore deserves to die in prison.

He murdered Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland, 2 Omaha cab drivers, in 1979. The 1st killing came with his younger brother in tow; the 2nd was committed alone to callously prove that Moore could take a man's life on his own.

This is a man whose crimes against innocent victims must mandate he remains incarcerated until his final breath. However, Moore should not die under the circumstances he presently faces.

Moore is slated to be put to death for his crimes Tuesday morning at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. Questions about the efficacy of Nebraska's 4-drug lethal injection protocol - never before used in capital punishment and written in 1 draft without any external input - and the sources from which the state obtained those drugs remain unknown.

Yes, Moore broke the law in killing 2 men. That cannot be disputed. But the state has yet to definitely prove it can follow the law while killing him.

An open-records lawsuit filed by the Journal Star and other media outlets sought to prove if that were indeed the case. A judge ruled that most of the documents requested in the suit - including many surrounding the sourcing of the drugs - were in fact public records that should be released.

Quickly, the state appealed the decision. Around that same time, the Attorney General's Office took what appears to be an unprecedented step by challenging a subpoena issued by the Nebraska Legislature's Judiciary Committee to Corrections Director Scott Frakes.

The lengths to which state officials have gone to hide the details of this process should trouble all Nebraskans. Both of these court actions are indisputably designed to hide specifics of the state's death penalty protocol from the public, as if something unsavory lurks beneath the surface.

The open-records case remains on appeal, and the subpoena suit remains under advisement. It's unclear if either will be decided before Moore's execution - the 1st in Nebraska since 1997.

Thatís assuming everything occurs as scheduled, of course, never a guarantee with capital punishment.

The latest potential wrench came from a pharmaceutical company, which filed a lawsuit late Tuesday. The suit aims to prevent what it believes is its potassium chloride - since, again, the state refuses to identify where it bought the execution drugs - from being used in next week's lethal injection.

Unwarranted secrecy and unmerited opacity spite the esteemed words above the State Capitol's north door: "The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen." The citizens have done everything in their power to be watchful regarding capital punishment, only to be rebuffed by the state.

Too many grave concerns remain unaddressed for Moore's execution. Until the state provides the requisite answers and proves it's acting in accordance with the law, his death is a bridge too far.

(source: Editorial, Sioux City Journal)

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

How Carey Dean Moore's execution, Nebraska's 1st lethal injection, will be carried out

Nebraska's official death penalty procedure says this week's execution of Carey Dean Moore will be accomplished by the injection of substances in a quantity sufficient to cause death without the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.

If a federal appellate court doesn't halt Moore's execution between now and 10 a.m. Tuesday, the prison staff members responsible for what sounds like a straightforward task will be under a high degree of scrutiny.

Nebraska has carried out 37 state-sanctioned executions, but Moore's will be the 1st by lethal injection. Bill Clinton occupied the White House the last time the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services executed an inmate, using the electric chair.

Moore, 60, has served for 38 years on death row for the 1979 killings of Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland. He has recently told friends and family that he is ready to die and does not want his execution halted.

Another factor at play Tuesday: The state will give Moore a 4-drug combination never used before in an execution. Death penalty critics have said that raises the likelihood of a botched execution, meaning it could take longer than normal or Moore could experience excess pain.

"Nobody is hoping things go wrong," said Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. "Everybody is hoping, if it happens, it happens smoothly."

Corrections Director Scott Frakes declined a request to be interviewed for this story.

But a former high-ranking member of the department said no one wants the execution to go smoothly more than staff members who will serve on the execution team.

"My concern is that it's been so long," said Brian Gage, who spent 34 years with corrections and served as warden of Tecumseh State Prison. "The majority of them will be new to an execution."

Based upon the state's protocol document, the execution team conducts training sessions at least once a month throughout the year. But when an execution date has been set, the frequency of training increases to at least once per week.

The Nebraska Supreme Court set Moore's execution date on July 5.

Execution team members volunteer for the duty, and most have their identities shielded under state law.

With the execution just 2 days away, Moore will have been transported from death row at the Tecumseh prison to a holding cell at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Gage said. The penitentiary houses the execution chamber.

He will be under what's called death watch, which means he will be closely monitored so he doesn't commit suicide.

At least 48 hours before the execution, the IV team leader will examine Moore to find appropriate veins to insert the IV needle. The IV team leader must have completed training as an emergency medical technician and in needle insertion.

As the hour of his execution approaches, Moore will be given expanded visiting time with his minister, family and friends. He also will be afforded the chance to eat a "final meal," which Gage said is not an elaborate dinner ordered from outside the facility. Rather, he can make a choice of whatever happens to be on the cafeteria's full menu at the time.

When the time arrives, Gage said members of the escort team will accompany Moore to the execution chamber. When the state last carried out an execution, the inmate walked from the holding cell down a set of stairs to the execution chamber.

Moore will then be placed on the padded table, where his arms, legs and torso will be secured in place by restraints. The escort team will then leave the room.

The IV team leader will set primary and backup IV lines in two of Moore's veins. The team leader will test the lines using saline fluid and will attach a heart monitor to the inmate.

When the corrections director gives the order, the IV team leader will begin the lethal injection. The sequence of drugs and doses to be injected:

2 milligrams of diazepam (a sedative) per kilogram of body weight followed by additional doses until the inmate is unconscious. A 50 cc saline flush will follow the diazepam.

25 micrograms of fentanyl (a powerful opioid painkiller) per kilogram of body weight, followed by a 50 cc saline flush.

1.6 milligrams of cisatracurium (a paralyzing drug intended to stop the inmate's breathing) per kilogram of body weight followed by a 50 cc saline flush.

240 milliequivalents of potassium chloride (a drug that causes heart attack in high doses) followed by a final saline flush.

After the diazepam is given, the IV team leader must conduct a consciousness check of Moore. Common methods include pinching an eyelid or cheek and calling his name. The inmate must be unconscious before the remaining 3 drugs are injected.

Lethal injections without obvious complications typically take about 10 minutes to result in death, Dunham said. But some botched executions have taken significantly longer.

If the staff member who sets the IV misses a vein and the drugs flow into the inmateís muscles, death can be prolonged and extremely painful, he said. Or if the inmate regains consciousness, he can experience an intense, burning pain from the potassium chloride, the drug that stops the heart.

A coroner or medical professional will check to determine whether Moore is dead after the 4 drugs are injected. If the coroner determines he is still alive, the IV team leader must carry out the injection sequence a 2nd time.

In a lawsuit heard Friday in federal court, a lawyer for a Germany-based drug company said state documents suggest the paralyzing drug has not been stored at the proper temperature by corrections staff. The lawyer said if the drug has degraded as a result, it may not work as prison officials hope.

Eric Berger is a professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law who has studied lethal injection for over a decade. In an opinion piece published by The World-Herald, Berger wrote that if the inmate is not properly anesthetized by the 1st 2 drugs, Moore could experience a sensation thatís been described as "being burned alive from the inside" when the final drug, potassium chloride, enters his bloodstream.

"Nobody disputes that the injection of potassium chloride alone would violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment," Berger said.

Frakes, the prisons director, said in a court affidavit filed this week that he relied on "opinions of qualified pharmacological and medical anesthesiology experts" to come up with the drugs and dosages. In addition, he said the drugs underwent lab testing to confirm their composition.

(source: Omaha World-Herald)

CALIFORNIA:

California Has The Largest Death Row Population In The Country

California has the largest death row population in the country, though the trend showed an opposite effect nationally, according to a study released Friday.

Pew Research Center analyzed data from the Death Penalty Information Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where it found California's death row population in 2017 increased by almost 100 inmates since January 2000. The state currently has 744 inmates on death row.

"The increase reflects the fact that California juries have continued to sentence convicted defendants to death even as executions themselves have been on hold in recent years amid legal and political disputes," according to Pew.

California has not executed an individual since 2006, after courts halted a 3-drug execution process between February 1996 to January 2006. The courts struck it down because of fear defendants could face inhumane suffering if one of the drugs failed, according to a Los Angeles Times article on Nov. 6, 2015.

The state proposed a single-drug lethal injection on Nov. 6, 2015, though it has not been carried out, the L.A. Times reported.

Death by capital punishment became the 3rd leading cause of death in California, behind natural causes and suicide, due to the long-term deferral of the death penalty.

Federal death sentences have also increased by 37 inmates since 2003.

The number of deaths across the states, however, decreased from 3,682 to 2,792, or by 24 %, between 2000 to 2017, according to the NAACP.

The overall decrease in the death penalty could be due to the number of people sentenced to death row have decreased. Other factors include defendants dying from other causes or they were exonerated, according to Pew.

There were 31 states plus the federal government and military that used the death penalty, while 18 states and the District of Columbia did not, according to the study.

The 11 states that have capital punishment have not executed an individual for at least a decade and the U.S. Military has not done an execution since 1961, Pew reported.

Death Penalty Information Center is "an information clearinghouse that has been critical of capital punishment," while the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund follows death row populations for all 50 states, according to Pew.

(source: The Daily Caller)

USA:

Capital punishment stumbles ahead in US

3 news items this week illustrate the patchwork of capital punishment legislation in the United States.

On Thursday, a 59-year-old man, Billy Irick, was executed in the state of Tennessee for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old, a crime he had committed in 1985.

Tennessee, whose last execution took place in 2009, uses a cocktail of drugs to sedate and then kill the prisoner. Lawyers for prisoners on Tennessee's death row described this as inhumane, but the challenge was dismissed by the State Supreme Court. A last-minute challenge on grounds of mental incapacity failed in the US Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent: "If the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we have stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism."

The state of Oklahoma has not executed anyone for more than 3 years, partly because it cannot obtain the necessary drugs. After a botched execution in 2014, a 3-year moratorium was declared on lethal injections. In 2015 the legislature made nitrogen asphyxiation the preferred method of dispatching prisoners. However, this week it was announced that protocols for this new method had not been finalised; it is unclear when executions will resume. 16 inmates on death row have exhausted their appeals and await the dates of their execution.

The state of Nebraska is planning its 1st execution in 21 years - a 60-year-old man, Carey Dean Moore, who killed 2 taxi cab drivers in 1979. But a German pharmaceutical company has sued to stop the execution because it will suffer reputational damage if its drug is used. Fresenius Kabi claims that the state obtained 2 of its drugs through illegal channels.

Adding heat to the debate over capital punishment in the US was a recent move by Pope Francis condemning it as "inadmissible". He decreed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an authoritative reference for official teaching, should be amended to read: "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person". This came at an awkward time for Nebraska's governor, Pete Ricketts, a Catholic who is an ardent supporter of the death penalty.

(source: bioedge.org)

BOTSWANA:

The Paradox of Botswana's Death Penalty

In Sub-Saharan Africa, a region with no shortage of development challenges, Botswana stands out for its strong economy, stable democracy, and commitment to the rule of law. But by 1 measure - its support for capital punishment - Botswana is frighteningly narrow-minded. If the country of my birth is to retain its reputation as one of Africa's most liberal states, it must confront its affinity for the gallows.

According to Amnesty International, most of Africa is abandoning the death penalty. Today, just 10 African countries allow for capital punishment, and only a handful ever use it. Botswana - an affluent, landlocked, diamond-exporting state - is among the leading exceptions. After a lull in killings in 2017, Botswana has resumed executing convicted murderers; Joseph Tselayarona, 28, was executed in February, while Uyapo Poloko, 37, was put to death in May.

Botswana's legal system - and the basis for capital punishment - is rooted in English and Roman-Dutch common law. According to the country's penal code, the preferred punishment for murder is death by hanging. And, while the constitution protects a citizen's "right to life," it makes an exception when the termination of a life is "in execution of the sentence of a court."

But the country's relationship to the death penalty predates its current legal statutes. In the pre-colonial era, tribal chiefs - known as kgosi - imposed the penalty for crimes such as murder, sorcery, incest, and conspiracy. To this day, history is often invoked to defend the status quo. In a 2012 judgment, the Botswana Court of Appeals wrote that capital punishment has been imposed "since time immemorial," and "its abolition would be a departure from the accepted norm." After Tselayarona was executed, the government even tweeted a photo of then-President Ian Khama under a caption that read, "Death penalty serves nation well."

(source: mareeg.com)

INDIA:

Act allowing death sentence for rape of children gets President's assent----Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death, the Act says

President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, that provides for stringent punishment, including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.

The amendment replaces the criminal law amendment ordinance promulgated on April 21 after the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua and another woman in Unnao.

"This Act may be called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018. It shall be deemed to have come into force on the 21st day of April, 2018," a gazette notification said.

The Act will further amend the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The President's assent, given on Saturday, came after Parliament approved the amendments to the law last week.

The Home Ministry drafted Criminal Law (Amendment) Act stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years.

Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.

The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

According to the new law, in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts "natural life".

The punishment for gang rape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.

Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence.

Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death, the Act says.

The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial.

It has prescribed the time limit for investigation of all cases of rape, saying it has to be mandatorily completed within two months.

The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be 2 months.

A 6-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.

(soruce: Press Trust of India)

SRI LANKA:

Sri Lanka govt approves capital punishment for drug offences

The Sri Lankan Cabinet has unanimously approved a move to bring back for, a senior minister has said.

Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Minister of the Buddhist Order said that President had recently stated that he was under pressure to re-introduce capital punishment as a deterrent to serious crimes.

"The Cabinet in unison agreed to it. We cannot allow inmates in prison to destroy the country by directing crimes," Perera said yesterday, adding convicts carry out drug trade while still in prison.

Although capital punishment is in the statute, Sri Lanka had stopped hangings since 1976. Death row prisoners spend life terms in jail.

Executions have not been carried out as successive presidents in office since 1978 have refused to issue death warrants.

(source: cantoncaller.com)

IRAN:

Death Penalty Not The Answer To Iran's Economic Woes, HRW Says

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that Iranian officials are trying to head off a looming economic crisis with threats of "new rights-abusing policies," including applying the death penalty for economic crimes.

"Executions, an inhumane and inherently irreversible punishment, are never the answer, and in this case can only distract from other causes of this economic turmoil," the New York-based rights watchdog said in an August 10 statement.

Iran has faced growing economic difficulties since the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers in May, fueling a crash in the value of the national currency, the rial.

The United States on August 7 reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy that were lifted under the nuclear deal in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program. A 2nd round of penalties is due to come into effect in early November.

Meanwhile, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, as well as a number of hard-liner lawmakers and newspapers have called for executing people found responsible for contributing to the country's economic woes, which have triggered street protests in Tehran and other cities.

"Today, officials increasingly talk about the need to combat corruption at every level," HRW said. "Yet to do so requires an independent judiciary that ensures due process rights for all those accused."

The group added that the Iranian judiciary's "long record of violating detainees' rights and wanton application of the death penalty raises grave concerns."

Iran has sentenced to death and executed several people on "vague fraud charges with little transparency or due process," according to HRW.

It cited the case of Babak Zanjani, a wealthy businessman who is currently on death row on charges of withholding more than $2 billion in oil revenue channeled through his companies.

Iran is one of the world's leading executioners. Amnesty International said in April that 507 people were executed in the country last year, including at least 5 juvenile offenders.

(source: Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)

AUGUST 11, 2018:

SOUTH CAROLINA:

South Carolina Catholics pray against death penalty as 37 await execution

Before the state of South Carolina puts another person to death, Catholics will hold a vigil outside the governor's mansion in Columbia, pleading for mercy for a convicted killer.

By the time the execution begins at 6 p.m. - it always happens at 6 p.m. - the protesters will gather outside the Broad River Correctional Institution and fall silent in prayer or reflection.

The activists won't all be Catholic, but many will. Catholics have joined or led protests at each of the state's 43 executions since 1985.

As part of a continuing shift in doctrine in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis announced Aug. 2 that the death penalty is inadmissible in all cases, saying the practice is "an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person." Previously, the church taught that the death penalty was inadmissible in all but the most extreme cases.

Father Jeff Kirby, pastor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in the Charlotte suburb of Indian Land, said his parishioners were hardly surprised by the pope's pronouncement this month. It was a subtle, almost academic shift, and many lay members believed the church already stood in full opposition to capital punishment.

"In our tradition as Catholics being pro-life, we see it as being consistent with our opposition to abortion, our opposition to war. We see this as a single message," Kirby said.

South Carolina's estimated population of 200,000 Catholics has been on the rise in the past decade, fueled by migration from Northeastern states. Historically, the church's leaders in the state have taken consistent, sometimes lonely stands against execution.

Great migration from northeastern U.S. fuels Catholic growth in South Carolina

Ron Kaz, chairman of South Carolinians Abolishing the Death Penalty, is not a religious man but has stood side-by-side with Catholics at each of the protests outside the Broad River facility where the state stops men's hearts. While nothing has changed in the law and powerful South Carolinians still call for blood after high-profile murders, he said the protests are not in vain and will resume if the state decides to kill again.

"We used to be harassed at vigils - pickup trucks full of college kids driving by screaming, 'Fry the bastards.' There's been a dramatic drop in the intensity of people's support for the death penalty," Kaz said.

Maria Cordova Salinas, a Mount Pleasant resident and member of Charleston's Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, attended some of the earliest protests with Kaz in the 1980s and '90s.

She said she regularly meets South Carolinians who oppose abortion and support the death penalty at the same time, and she can't make sense of it. "Nobody has the right to terminate anybody's life."

Now she falls silent at home every time the state executes a criminal.

"It's an intense moment. As a Christian, you pray," she said. "Somebody's life is being taken away."

A long plea for mercy

Today, South Carolina has 37 people on death row and hasn't carried out an execution since 2011. The only thing preventing further executions is the refusal of pharmaceutical companies to sell U.S. governments the drugs used in lethal injections. The state's supply of pentobarbital expired in 2013, stalling any further executions.

Proponents of the death penalty have offered a few remedies. Some have promoted a so-called "shield law' that would keep the sellers of lethal injection ingredients a secret, but similar laws have been blamed for botched executions in other states, introducing the possibility of cruel and unusual punishment.

Others have suggested that the state bring back the electric chair (it's still an option, should inmates choose it) or the firing squad.

In the meantime, state leaders still beat the drum for death from time to time.

When Dylann Roof was convicted of the June 2015 mass murder at Emanuel AME Church, Gov. Nikki Haley called for the ultimate punishment. Bishop Robert Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston disagreed, siding with some of the victims' own family members in opposing the death penalty.

"The Church believes the right to life is paramount to every other right as it affords the opportunity for conversion, even of the hardened sinner," Guglielmone wrote in a public statement on Jan. 10, 2017. The next day, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel sentenced Roof to death by lethal injection.

Guglielmone's stance was consistent with that of his forebears.

Monsignor Charles Roland, 79, remembers the previous generation of Catholic leaders who stood in the brink against capital punishment. During 16 years stationed at a parish in Columbia, he visited death row several times to deliver Bibles and pray with men condemned to death.

He was also close with Monsignor Thomas Duffy - "Tommy," to friends - who publicly protested the death penalty and visited even the most hardened killers in their final hours. He recalls debriefing with his friend after Duffy had visited the infamous serial killer Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins on death row in 1991.

"He used the term 'evil,' but I would never use that term," Roland said. "Tommy would always believe that there's the last split-second for redemption."

Now serving the parish of Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Johns Island, Roland said he knows the church's teaching against execution can be a hard pill to swallow, particularly for parishioners whose loved ones have been murdered.

But he emphasizes that the church's teaching on the subject is nothing new.

'Love the enemy'

During a national moratorium on capital punishment that began in 1962, Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler of the Diocese of Charleston took a public stand against bringing the practice back. He spoke to a Congressional subcommittee in July 1978 opposing a bill that would have effectively reinstated the death penalty at the national level.

He was in the minority. A 1974 survey conducted by The State newspaper had found that 64 % of South Carolinians favored reinstating the death penalty, while 25 % opposed it and 11 % had no opinion.

Executions resumed in South Carolina in 1985 following state and national legal battles and a reinstatement of the death penalty by the state legislature.

The 1st man South Carolina executed under the new regime was Joseph C. Shaw, who happened to be Catholic and a former altar boy. He and 2 accomplices had been convicted of murdering and raping 3 victims in Columbia, including a 14-year-old girl whose corpse Shaw later had sex with.

On the day of the execution, Jan. 11, 1985, a crowd of 300 anti-death penalty protesters marched on the prison, the state Supreme Court and the Statehouse in freezing rain. Inside the prison walls, Monsignor Duffy of Charleston conducted mass for Shaw and his family after a final meal of pizza and salad.

Shaw made peace with God, according to his public testimony in the newspaper. He said in one of his final public statements, "Killing was wrong when I did it, and it is wrong when you do it."

The state killed Shaw in an electric chair over protests from Unterkoefler and the Rev. Joseph Clelland of Christ Sanctified Holy Church in Columbia, who had both pleaded with then-Gov. Richard Riley to spare Shaw's life.

South Carolina may not have drugs needed for December execution

A year later, the state took the life of James Terry Roach, convicted of rape and murder at age 17. This time the Catholic Mother Teresa and the Baptist former President Jimmy Carter joined an international plea for mercy. Riley again refused to grant clemency.

In January 1987, according to a Post and Courier report, Monsignor Duffy squared off with Charleston Police Chief Reuben Greenberg in a public debate about the death penalty at Charleston's Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The city's top cop favored the death penalty, telling the audience, "Logically and morally it follows that a killer should share his victim's fate."

Duffy was by then known as a vocal opponent of war, abortion and the death penalty. He spoke directly to one woman in the audience who said she supported the death penalty after being robbed at gunpoint three times while running a store on Meeting Street.

"Love the enemy," Duffy pleaded. "Love will heal me and love will heal my enemy."

The electric sofa

Not all Catholics agreed with the monsignor. In fact, prominent Palmetto State Catholics have come down vehemently on either side of the issue.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Charlie Condon rose to national prominence for aggressively pursuing capital punishment in Charleston-area cases starting in the 1980s. He sought the death penalty for four teenagers in a 1991 murder case, including one 14-year-old.

In another 1991 case, Condon successfully secured a death penalty for 35-year-old Bud Von Dohlen in the shotgun slaying of 21-year-old Margaret Smith McLean in a Goose Creek dry cleaning shop. Appealing to the jury in the case, he reportedly had tears in his eyes as he showed a black-and-white photo of McLean's naked, bloody body on the floor of the dry cleaner.

"Show him the mercy he showed Margaret McLean," he told the jury according to a May 29, 1991, report in The Post and Courier. In 2004, the State Supreme Court upheld Von Dohlen's conviction but overturned his death penalty.

Later, as the state's 1st Roman Catholic attorney general, Condon cheekily proposed constructing an "electric sofa" to speed up executions.

Another Catholic working in the Ninth Circuit, public defender Ashley Pennington, has fought the death penalty in numerous cases, including Roof's trial.

But Pennington says his opposition to the death penalty is based on legal and practical considerations, not religious ones. Capital punishment is often more expensive than housing a convict for life, and execution has been shown to be an ineffective deterrent to crime.

"Because it's so expensive and consuming of resources, it only gets used when people are the angriest. It often gets used when you have victims who are white, and it reflects the bias of the community to look after the victims who are the most favored," Pennington said.

In all, South Carolina has executed 282 people since 1912: 208 black and 74 white. Prior to Aug. 6, 1912, individual counties carried out executions by hanging.

(source: The Post and Courier)

FLORIDA----stay of impending execution

Justices block execution in Miami-Dade murder

The Florida Supreme Court has indefinitely put on hold Tuesday's scheduled execution of death row inmate Jose Antonio Jimenez, convicted of killing a 63-year-old woman nearly 26 years ago in Miami-Dade County.

A unanimous order by the court, issued Friday evening, did not give a reason for granting the stay of execution requested by Jimenez's lawyer, Marty McClain.

Gov. Rick Scott in July ordered Jimenez, now 54, to be put to death by lethal injection and scheduled the execution for Tuesday. The convicted murderer's execution would have been the 1st since the February lethal injection of Eric Branch, who reportedly screamed after being injected with the anesthetic etomidate, the 1st of the state's triple-drug lethal injection protocol.

In a motion for a stay of execution filed this week, McClain raised several issues, including the fact that he discovered 80 pages of records related to the investigation into the Oct. 2, 1992, death of Phyllis Minas that the North Miami Police Department had not previously provided to Jimenez's lawyers.

McClain was first given access to all of the records - more than 1,000 pages - on July 30, just 2 weeks before his client, who maintains his innocence, was scheduled to be executed.

The newly discovered records include pages of handwritten notes made by investigators identified as detectives Ojeda and Diecidue, who interviewed Jimenez following his arrest t3 days after Minas was murdered, according to court documents filed this week. The records contradict the detectives' testimony in Jimenez's case, according to McClain.

"Mr. Jimenez has found, to his mind, surprising and downright shocking information contained in the previously unseen notes," McClain wrote in a 5-page motion filed in Miami-Dade County circuit court Friday. "It appears that the notes of Detective Ojeda, the lead investigator, and Detective Diecidue if not lied, endeavored to deceive when they were deposed by Mr. Jimenez's trial counsel."

McClain wrote that he made the discovery within the past 10 days.

"And counsel is frnatical (sic) trying to piece these notes together and understand what occurred while the clock ticks down on Mr. Jimenez's life," McClain wrote.

The notes "show that Ojeda and Diecidue were willing (to) give false and/or misleading deposition testimony in order to facilitate Mr. Jimenez's conviction," McClain wrote in an 8-page amendment to a motion seeking to vacate his client's judgment and sentence filed with the Supreme Court this week.

"The new documents show dishonest cops, and the conviction is premised on Ojeda telling the truth," McClain told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview Friday evening.

In the motion seeking a stay, McClain also raised the issue of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case, known as Bucklew v. Precythe, which could have an impact on arguments about whether Florida's lethal-injection protocol is unconstitutional.

The Missouri case deals with a previous U.S. Supreme Court decision, in a case known as Glossip v. Gross, that focused on lethal injection protocols.

That ruling requires prisoners challenging lethal injection procedures to establish that "any risk of harm was substantial when compared to a known and viable alternative method of execution."

"... (I)t is clear that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to revisit and clarify the analysis to be used in a challenge to a method of execution. For that reason, a stay of execution would be more than appropriate in this case just as it was in Correll," McClain wrote, referring to Jerry Correll, who was put to death by lethal injection in 2015 in the first execution after the Supreme Court signed off on the use of the drug midazolam, which has now been replaced by etomidate in Florida.

The Florida Supreme Court's order Friday halting Jimenez's execution set a schedule for briefs to be filed by McClain and the state, ending with an Aug. 28 deadline for reply brief to be filed. "Oral argument, if necessary, will be scheduled at a later date," the order said.

McClain said he did not know the basis of court's indefinite stay.

"But the fact that it's until further order of the court, and it was unanimous, there's something up, but I don't know what it is," he said.

McClain said that an expert in a separate lethal-injection case had testified that the use of the drug etomidate could result in screams about 25 % of the time. The state has used the drug 4 times as part of a new lethal injection protocol, and Branch was the only inmate who screamed, lending credence to the expert's testimony, according to McClain.

"Is it OK to have your condemned people scream 25 % of the time? Are we comfortable with that? And what about the torture to those who are next, who know that 25 % of the time people are in pain and screaming? Are they going to be the one? And even if they're not, is it going to be torture for them to be aware of that?" he said.

(source: floridapolitics.com)

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Grand jury indicts Wisner Desmerat on 1st degree murder charges for Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller

A grand jury indicted Wisner Desmerat with 1st degree murder for the death of Fort Myers Police Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller. The charge means Desmerat faces the death penalty.

He also faces 7 other charges, including resisting an officer with violence, robbery and attempted 1st degree murder for another officer.

Desmerat's 1st court appearance is scheduled for Saturday morning. He will appear in court again on August 20th.

Desmerat is in the Lee County Jail, held with no bond.

(source: Fox News)

MISSISSIPPI:

Hattiesburg man sentenced to death for 2004 murders is resentenced to life without parole

A man sentenced to death for killing his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend in 2004, will no longer sit on death row.

Roger Gillett, 44, and his then-girlfriend Lisa Jo Chamberlin were convicted of 2 counts each of capital murder for the deaths of Vernon Hulett, 34, and Linda Heintzelman, 37, at Hulett's Hattiesburg home, then putting their dismembered bodies in a freezer and taking them to an abandoned farm in Kansas.

Each was sentenced to death.

Gillett appealed his 2007 conviction. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his convictions in 2014 but overturned his death sentence because Gillett's jury was allowed to consider inadmissible evidence that it otherwise would not have.

That "inadmissable" evidence was Gillett's attempted escape from the Kansas jail where he was held after his arrest. It was deemed irrelevant since it did not relate to the actual killings.

A jury must consider a number of factors when deciding whether to sentence someone to death, including the severity of the crime, for instance if it was particularly heinous or committed during another felony such as robbery or rape. Escape or attempted escape may be considered if the capital crime was committed to help the perpetrator escape, but not in Gillett's case.

In the Supreme Court's 6-3 decision, justices said not every escape is considered a crime of violence under Kansas law. Former Justice Ann Lamar, who wrote the majority opinion, said the Kansas crime cannot be used to support a death sentence in Mississippi.

On Sept. 18, 2014, the court denied the state's motion for a rehearing, sending the case back to Forrest County Circuit Court.

Four years later, Gillett was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Before Gillett was resentenced, court documents show the victims' families were consulted by the district attorney, who "has carefully considered all matters pertinent to this case and that she will not seek the death penalty."

Forrest County District Attorney Patricia Burchell said she could not comment on the case at this time.

Chamberlin's convictions were vacated in March 2017 by a 3-judge panel in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals only to be reviewed 6 months later by the full court, which decided in March the convictions would stand.

Chamberlin, convicted in 2006, is listed as an inmate at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County. She is the only female inmate on Mississippi's death row.

(source: Hattiesburg American)

TENNESSEE:

Bishops, faith leaders condemn Tennessee's 1st execution in 9 years

2 Tennessee Catholic bishops called the execution of Billy Ray Irick Aug. 9 "unnecessary."

"Tonight's execution of Billy Ray Irick was unnecessary. It served no useful purpose," Bishop J. Mark Spalding of Nashville and Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville said in a statement after Irick was executed at Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville.

"In this time of sadness, that began many years ago with the tragic and brutal death of Paula Dyer and continues with another death tonight, we believe that only Jesus Christ can bring consolation and peace," the bishops said. "We continue to pray for Paula and for her family. And we also pray for Billy Ray Irick, that his final human thoughts were of remorse and sorrow for we believe that only Christ can serve justice."

They also said they prayed that the people of Tennessee "may all come to cherish the dignity that his love instills in every person - at every stage of life."

Irick, 59, died at 7:48 p.m. CDT after Tennessee prison officials administered a lethal combination of chemicals. According to press reports, before he died Irick was coughing, choking and gasping for air and his face turned dark purple as the lethal drugs took effect.

He was the 1st person executed in Tennessee since 2009 and the 1st person executed in the United States since Pope Francis announced Aug. 2 that he had ordered a change in the Catechism of the Catholic Church declaring that the death penalty is inadmissible in all cases.

Irick was convicted in 1986 for the murder and rape of 7-year-old Paula Dyer of Knoxville and had been on death row ever since.

Attorneys for Irick had filed a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a stay of his execution until their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Tennesseeís lethal injection protocol could be heard by the state Court of Appeals.

5 hours before the execution, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal, with a dissent filed by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the state of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody, while shrouding his suffering behind a veneer of paralysis," Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.

On a humid night at sunset, spiritual leaders led prayers and read Scripture to the group. Others who knew Irick from visiting him on death row shared memories about him.

"Being in that physical proximity, knowing that behind all the concrete walls and barbed wire a killing is going on is a very sobering thing," said Deacon James Booth, director of prison ministry for the Diocese of Nashville, who stood outside the prison with a group of about 20 fellow anti-death penalty activists as Irick was executed.

Before the execution, Booth was planning how he would minister to death-row inmates in the coming days. "I will let them speak," he said, to say whatever they want in order to process the emotions and the grief they might feel, akin to losing a family member.

While the men on death row are guilty of horrific crimes including rape and murder, Booth believes, and the Catholic Church teaches, that they still retain their human dignity and capacity for forgiveness and redemption.

Tennessee's bishops, in the weeks before the execution, issued two statements calling for the end of the death penalty and condemning Irick's execution.

Spalding, Stika and Bishop Martin D. Holley of Memphis also wrote a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in July, urging him to halt Irick's execution and the 3 other executions scheduled before the end of the year.

Irick's execution had been stayed twice before, in 2010 and 2014, as attorneys argued the state's lethal injection protocol constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" and that Irick's history of severe mental illness was not taken into adequate consideration during his sentencing or throughout the lengthy appeals process.

The timing of the execution, just 1 week after Francis announced that he was officially changing the Catechism to oppose capital punishment in all instances, is disheartening to Booth.

"When the head of the largest Christian denomination in the world speaks out forcefully against the death penalty ... that should be kind of a force that should stay the hand of revenge, and it's hard to see this as anything but revenge," Booth said of Irick's execution.

(source: cruxnow.com)

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Research: After decades of decline, support for death penalty increases

Tennessee executed its 1st death row inmate since 2009 on Thursday.

The state put Billy Ray Irick to death for the 1985 rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer. He was on death row for more than 30 years.

If you believe in the death penalty, you are not alone.

Research shows after decades of decline, support is increasing -- no matter your religion.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, more than half of Americans support the death penalty. That's up from just under half 2 years ago, when support was at its lowest in 40 years.

According to the research, more than 70 % of white Evangelical Protestants support the death penalty, as do more than 1/2 of Catholics.

This is in contrast with Pope Francis's clarification of the Church's stance on capital punishment, in which he said it was "inadmissible."

"For some Catholics this was really difficult, particularly for some American Catholics it was hard to hear because many support the death penalty particularly in the most egregious cases," said Dr. Tricia Bruce, a professor of sociology at Maryville College.

Christianity and other religions have a variety of takes on the death penalty. For instance, a 2009 Pew Research forum reports Judaism does not support it, but some Muslim-majority countries live by Shariah law, where punishment by death is accepted.

In the U.S., Bruce says research shows support for the death penalty tends to increase among certain groups.

"Republicans as opposed to Democrats, it's more true of men than it is of women, it's more true of white Evangelicals than it is of those who are unaffiliated," Bruce said. "And given that we have a growth in the religiously unaffiliated, that actually may portend some lower levels of support for the death penalty at large."

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Death penalty vs. life in prison: The costs----An analysis by the office of the Tennessee comptroller found that the average cost of death penalty trials cost almost 50 percent more than both trials with life without parole and life with the possibility of parole.

While ethical and legal objections are the most common reasons critics oppose the death penalty, the cost of capital punishment is growing as a reason some are citing to oppose the method of punishment.

While some people argue that the death penalty saves tax payers money compared to having a convict serve a life sentence, research shows a different narrative according to former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Penny White, Director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution at the UT College of Law.

"It's a fallacy that executions are cheaper," she said. "People think, 'Well, we're done with them once we eliminate them through execution, we no longer have to pay the cost of incarceration,' but that is an over-simplistic view that doesn't take into account all other costs."

The last study of the cost of the death penalty was released by the state comptroller's office in 2004.

The analysis found that the average cost of capital trial cost almost 50 % more than both trials with life without parole and life with the possibility of parole.

The comptroller's report cited the greater expense on the increased complexity of the case, the increased number of agencies in people involved in the case, more time spent by both the prosecution and defense for preparation and more steps in the appellate process.

The study says the appeals process has 13 steps, beginning with the prosecution's decision to seek the death penalty.

"The truth is they can be used in any case that raises a constitutional issue, it's just that people are more likely to go through the processes when we're talking about killing someone," White said.

When the comptroller's report was published in 2004, only 1 person had been executed in the previous 44 years. Robert Glen Coe's execution in 2000 was the only data used to determine the incarceration cost differences in his execution versus serving life without parole. He was 44-years-old when executed.

Compared to a life expectancy of 77 years, Coe's execution at 19 years on death row saved the state $773,736. The study authors noted that since only one inmate had been executed since the death penalty was reinstated, the estimated incarceration costs should be reviewed with caution.

More recent national studies show that the cost of capital punishment is even greater than Tennessee 2004 study indicated.

A 2016 study at Susquehanna University found that on average death row inmates cost $1.12 million more than general population inmates.

"I think when we talk about costs we have to talk about benefits," White said. "States that have repealed the death penalty have actually seen a decrease in their homicide rates and there is absolutely no information to suggest that the death penalty in any way deters violent crime."

While Texas has drawn the most attention for its high number of executions, White says the interest in Billy Irick's case has brought the conversation into the discussion in Tennessee.

"Now that we are about to witness an execution in our state I do hope that it's rekindled interest and hopefully rekindled the debate about what we're doing, particularly in cases like those whoa re facing execution in the next few weeks here, the mental health issue, the other issues in those case that really suggest that executing is not the correct punishment for those individuals," White said.

(source for both: WBIR news)

OKLAHOMA:

Oklahoma Prosecutor Seeks Death Penalty for Texas Man

An Oklahoma prosecutor has filed court documents saying he will seek the death penalty for a Texas man in the stomping death of an acquaintance.

Court records show Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn filed a bill of particulars Aug. 1 against 29-year-old Joseph Alliniece of Missouri City, Texas.

Alliniece is charged with 1st-degree murder in the April death of 27-year-old Brittany Young at Young's apartment in Norman.

In court documents, Alliniece says he has no recollection of what happened the day Young died.

Mashburn's filing says the crime "was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel," that Alliniece has a prior felony conviction for violence, is a continuing threat to society and that he knowingly created a great risk of death to more than 1 person.

(source: Associated Press)

SOUTH DAKOTA----(new) execution date

South Dakota sets execution for man in prison guard's death

A man who pleaded guilty to the 2011 killing of a South Dakota prison guard is set to be executed in the fall, the state's attorney general said Wednesday.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement that Rodney Berget, 56, is scheduled to be executed between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3. Jackley's office said the warden of the state penitentiary will choose the specific time and date, which will be announced within 48 hours of the execution.

Circuit Court Judge Bradley Zell issued a warrant of execution for Berget, who would be the 1st person put to death in South Dakota in roughly 6 years.

"We will be ready to carry out the order of the court," Department of Corrections Secretary Denny Kaemingk said in a statement.

Berget pleaded guilty in April 2012 to killing Ronald "R.J." Johnson in a failed prison escape attempt in April 2011 along with fellow inmate Eric Robert, who was executed in 2012.

An attorney for Berget wasn't immediately available to comment to The Associated Press. Berget's mental status and death penalty eligibility have played a key role in court delays.

Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw the appeal against the advice of his lawyers, the Argus Leader reported.

"I want this to be the last day I appear in court," Berget said at a September 2016 hearing.

The last execution in South Dakota was the lethal injection of Donald Moeller on Oct. 30, 2012, for the killing of Becky O'Connell.

State Department of Corrections policy says lethal injections involve 1 to 3 drugs, depending on drug availability and the date of the prisoner's conviction. State law makes a drug supplier confidential.

Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, said U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers have distribution policies that prohibit the sale of their medicines for non-therapeutic uses. The "secrecy" provision in South Dakota law raises serious questions about how the drugs are obtained, Dunham said.

"The big problem is that with secrecy we can't have any assurances," Dunham said. "Given the history of behavior of many of the states that have carried out executions, 'Trust me I'm the government,' is not a satisfactory explanation."

(source: Associated Press)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

Judge won't stop Carey Dean Moore execution set for Tuesday

The execution of Carey Dean Moore will go forward Tuesday after the decision of a federal judge on Friday afternoon.

Anti-death penalty supporters had hope, but U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf dashed that hope by rejecting drug manufacturer Fresenius Kabi's request to at least temporarily stop the use of two drugs the company believes the state intends to use Tuesday.

The company immediately appealed Kopf's decision to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court is standing by and will not be surprised by the appeal, said attorney Mark Christensen, of the law firm Cline Williams and representing Fresenius Kabi.

Kopf said although Moore was not a party to the lawsuit, filed this week, he was at the center of it, and common decency required that he not be forgotten. He has made his wishes to go ahead with the execution known by no longer fighting it and asking his attorneys not to interfere.

He also took into account the public interest, the judge said, saying that weighed heavily in favor of the state.

"Many people of good faith object to the death penalty," Kopf said. "However, the electoral processes of Nebraska have worked as they were intended."

Assistant Attorney General Ryan Post had argued Fresenius Kabi failed to show irreparable harm to its company, its reputation and business relationships.

The judge said he did not believe the company's reputation would be irreparably harmed if the execution proceeds using the drugs cisatracurium and potassium chloride, which the company believes is from its supplies. Kopf called the harm to Fresenius Kabi if he rejected the temporary restraining order "vanishingly small to none at all."

But the state of Nebraska would be "greatly and irreparably harmed," he said, if he stopped the execution.

"Sure, the plaintiff just might, although it is very doubtful, suffer harm to its reputation," he said. "But the public interest is far broader than corporate self-interest. In this case, it has everything to do with the functioning of a democracy."

He concluded there was no evidence that the cisatracurium to be used was manufactured or distributed by the company, although the state has not denied it.

Department of Corrections Director Scott Frakes said in an affidavit the drugs were obtained from a licensed pharmacy in the United States, and the department did not circumvent Fresenius Kabi's distribution controls. They were not obtained through fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, he said.

He also said the state has no other way to buy lethal injection drugs that comply with state law and the department's execution protocol.

Frakes said he had tried to purchase additional execution drugs from the supplier of the current substances and that supplier is unwilling to provide them.

The department's supply of potassium chloride will expire Aug. 31. Frakes said he has no other source or supplier for the drugs to be used next week or any time in the future.

It is unknown how that would affect any potential execution of Jose Sandoval, convicted of killing five people inside a Norfolk U.S. Bank branch, and who has also been notified the same drugs would be used to put him to death. No execution date has been set in his case.

The drug company said in court documents that stopping the use of its drugs would not negate the state's death penalty. Alternative methods do exist.

Fresenius Kabi also argued Frakes' authority to procure drugs for lethal injection does not give him a license to violate the rights of others.

The department has not revealed the sources of its lethal injection drugs, despite a district court order, which it has appealed.

State inventories of the drug show the potassium chloride, which could be used to stop Moore's heart, are in 30-milliliter vials. The company alleged it is the only one with vials of the drug distributed in that size.

Christensen said it should be no surprise, after multiple communications, that Fresenius Kabi objected to the use of its drugs and was ready to take legal action to prevent the use of its drugs.

"If the (state) had been upfront and honest about their intentions, this lawsuit would have been filed months ago and the case decided without a pending execution that makes everything more dire and urgent," Christensen said.

Steve Helgeland, the youngest son of Maynard Helgeland, 1 of Moore's victims, lauded the judge's decision.

"We are grateful the judge ruled the way he did," he said. "We are hopeful it will allow us to move on and close this chapter."

Helgeland and his older brother Kenny, both of whom live in South Dakota, will be in Lincoln on Tuesday. Kenny said he plans to be a witness and will be wearing a T-shirt that says, "Happy Cab 63," on the front. That was the company their father worked for and the number of the cab he was driving when Moore killed him.

Meanwhile, the ACLU of Nebraska commended Fresenius Kabi for taking action to ensure its products were not obtained illegally or used for illicit purposes.

"Had the Nebraska Department of Corrections conducted their grave business in compliance with our strong tradition of open government, this action may have been avoided," said Executive Director Danielle Conrad.

She said the organization will continue its work to oppose the death penalty on all fronts, including "defending Nebraskaís proud tradition of open government as the state seeks to carry out its ... grave and irrevocable function."

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)

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Judge Rejects Drugmaker's Attempt to Block Nebraska Execution

A federal judge on Friday refused to block the State of Nebraska from carrying out its 1st lethal injection despite a German pharmaceutical company's lawsuit that says the state illicitly obtained its drugs.

The judge, Richard G. Kopf of the District of Nebraska, denied the company's request to temporarily block state prison officials from executing Carey Dean Moore, one of the nation's longest-serving death row inmates. Mr. Moore is scheduled to die Tuesday in Nebraska's 1st execution since 1997 with a combination of drugs that has never been tried.

Mr. Moore, 60, who was convicted of killing 2 cabdrivers 5 days apart in 1979, has stopped fighting the state's efforts to execute him. Judge Kopf said granting the drug company's request would "frustrate the will of the people," referring to the 61 % of Nebraska voters who chose to reinstate capital punishment in 2016 after lawmakers abolished it.

"I will not allow the plaintiff to frustrate the wishes of Mr. Moore and the laws of the state of Nebraska," Judge Kopf said during the hearing.

Lawyers for the drug company, Fresenius Kabi, filed a lawsuit this week arguing that state officials improperly obtained at least 1 of the company's drugs. Mark Christensen, 1 of the lawyers, said the company planned to appeal.

In Nevada, a judge indefinitely postponed an execution last month after the drugmaker Alvogen filed a similar lawsuit over one of its products.

Mr. Moore is scheduled to be executed with a combination of 4 drugs: the sedative diazepam, commonly known as Valium, to render him unconscious; fentanyl citrate, a powerful synthetic opioid; cisatracurium besylate to induce paralysis and halt his breathing; and potassium chloride to stop his heart.

Fresenius Kabi argues that it manufactured the state's supply of potassium chloride and possibly the cisatracurium. Nebraska state officials have refused to identify the source of their execution drugs.

Fresenius Kabi said Nebraska's use of its drugs would damage its reputation and business relationships. The company said it takes no position on capital punishment, but strongly opposes the use of its products for use in executions.

(source: Associated Press)

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National Anti-Death Penalty Advocate Speaks Out Against Moore Execution

A national anti-death penalty advocate is questioning Gov. Pete Rickett's ability to be a 'moral leader' by continuing to support the upcoming execution of Carey Dean Moore.

Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known advocate against the death penalty, is known best as the spiritual advisor for Patrick Sonnier, a Louisiana inmate who was executed in 1984 after being convicted of killing 2 teenagers.

Prejean went on to write a novel about her experience with Sonnier and Louisiana's execution process in "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty." The book was later adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.

Prejean is familiar with the controversies surrounding Nebraska's death penalty, ranging from Rickett's personal efforts to override a 2015 repeal of the death penalty to a lack of transparency regarding where the lethal drugs being used in Moore's upcoming execution are coming from.

"In all my time working with the death penalty in the United States, I don't think I've ever seen a governor like Ricketts go to such extreme costs or trouble to have a human being executed," Prejean said.

Prejean highlighted a 2016 study by Creighton economist Ernest Goss, which found that Nebraska's maintenance of the death penalty cost the state $14.6 million annually, with each additional death penalty arraignment costing the state around $1.5 million.

"...It baffles me, it just really baffles me," she said.

Prejean has also been outspoken in the lack of transparency regarding the drugs to be used in Moore's upcoming execution. A lack of transparency and unwillingness from state officials to identify the source of the drugs to be used in the upcoming execution has led a German pharmaceutical company to file a lawsuit against the state and the Department of Correctional Services.

The company, Fresenius Kabi, suspects the Nebraska State Penitentiary pharmacy is in possession of 2 of the company's drugs, potassium chloride and cisatracurium. The company questions whether the drugs were acquired legally.

A federal judge ruled Friday afternoon the state could proceed with plans to execute Moore Tuesday, despite objections from a German drug manufacturer their drug was obtained improperly. The state denies that allegation.

Prejean said she questions whether Nebraska can be viewed as a "pro-life" state in the midst of controversy surrounding the Moore execution.

"What does it mean for our morality if we say we're pro-life that you could have the life of a human being hanging on such a fine point of a legality around a drug," Prejean said.

Prejean likened the controversy surrounding Moore's execution to a 2015 incident in Oklahoma, where a death row inmate was issued a stay of execution due to last-minute questions by the state's governor regarding the chemicals being used for lethal injection.

"We have a terrible problem in the United States where we have a Supreme Court that is allowing states to experiment with different drugs to kill people and there is hardly any transparency in that," Prejean said.

Ultimately, Prejean said she questions the benefits and importance of the upcoming execution, and whether the people of the state will actually be safer.

"'An important tool,' Gov. Ricketts calls it," Prejean said. "A tool for what? To show that we're capable as a state of imitating the worst possible violence under the worst possible conditions, the most pre-meditated death of a human being you can imagine?"

"What's going to happen after the execution, after Tuesday, is anybody really safer? Has it really helped the state? All these things come to mind when I think of this and what's about to happen in Nebraska," she said. "Nothing will be accomplished by it, and that's hardly what you call pro-life"

NET News tried to reach Gov. Ricketts for comment, but our emails were not answered immediately.

(source: netnebraska.org)

COLORADO:

DNA links Nevada prisoner to multiple 1984 cold case murders, including 3 family members, authorities say

Authorities have used DNA to link four cold case murders from 1984 in Colorado to a man already serving time for attempted murder and deadly assault charges in Nevada.

Prosecutors from Arphahoe and Jefferson Counties as well as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director John Camper announced Friday that investigators used DNA matching to connect four brutal murders in the state -- including a home invasion that left three family members dead -- to 57-year-old Alexander Christoper Ewing, who is currently in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Authorities were able to obtain DNA from Ewing after a change to a Nevada state law that previously prohibited it, Camper said in a news conference.

On Jan. 10, 1984, a man entered the home of 50-year-old Patricia Louise Smith in Lakewood, Colorado, and sexually assaulted and bludgeoned her to death, The Denver Post reported.

6 days later, a man armed with a hammer and a knife entered the Aurora home of Bruce and Debra Bennett and bludgeoned the entire family, killing 3 members, according to The Post.

The killer also sliced Bruce Bennett's neck, raped Debra Bennett and the couple's 7-year-old daughter, Melissa Bennett, The Post reported. The couple's youngest daughter, 3-year-old Vanessa, was beaten in the head and face but survived. Bruce Bennett's mother, Connie Bennett, stumbled upon the gruesome scene the next day and found her granddaughter alive, according to The Post.

The family had just celebrated Melissa Bennett's birthday, The Post reported.

DNA evidence from the scene of the Bennett case was first uploaded into a database in 2001, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said. Almost a decade later, in 2010, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was able to develop a DNA profile from Smith's murder and found that it matched the DNA in the Bennett case, Brauchler said.

A few weeks ago, the state of Nevada uploaded Ewing's DNA to the FBI's national database, and a match with the Smith and Bennett cases came the next day, Camper said.

Smith faces 3 counts of felony murder and 2 counts of violent crime in Jefferson County in connection with Smith's death, Jefferson County District Attorney Pete Weir said Friday. Formal charges are expected to be filed next week.

"Justice has been delayed, but justice is not going to be denied," Weir said, adding that it's possible that Ewing could face the death penalty in Smith's murder.

Former Arapahoe County District Attorney Jim Peters had obtained an arrest warrant for a John Doe in the Bennetts' murder cases based on the DNA, charging the unknown killer with 18 counts related to the massacre, including six counts of first-degree murder, Brauchler said. It is unclear when authorities will reach a resolution in the Bennett case, Brauchler said.

The prosecutors will file paperwork asking Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to extradite Ewing from Nevada.

The state of Colorado is urging all states to pass laws to obtain DNA from incarcerated inmates to help solve cold cases, authorities said.

"Every state has unsolved cases," Brauchler said. "... Do this for the victims that have gaping holes of crimes that have not been solved."

Ewing is already serving a 40-year prison term in Nevada for 2 counts of attempted murder and 2 counts of assault with a daily weapon, according to The Post.

Several months after the Colorado murders, Ewing entered a home in Kingman, Arizona, through an open door and attacked a man nearly to death with a 20-pound boulder, The Post reported.

Ewing was later arrested by Kingman police on charges of attempted murder, and on Aug. 9, 1984, while being transferred for a trial hearing, he escaped the jail van when it stopped at a gas station for a restroom break, according to The Post.

Ewing then ran into a K-Mart and changed clothes and later that night entered a home in Henderson, Nevada, armed with an ax handle and attacked the couple living there, The Post reported.

Ewing was eventually captured 2 days later after a massive helicopter and foot search, according to The Post. He was convicted by the 8th District Court in Las Vegas in 1985 and is being housed at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City, prison records show.

(source: ABC News)

USA:

11 states that have the death penalty haven't used it in more than a decade

Tennessee carried out its first execution since 2009 this month and Nebraska soon may carry out its 1st since 1997. The 2 states underscore the fact that while a majority of jurisdictions in the United States have capital punishment on the books, a considerably smaller number of them use it regularly.

Most states have the death penalty, but significantly fewer use it regularlyOverall, 31 states, the federal government and the U.S. military authorize the death penalty, while 19 states and the District of Columbia do not, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an information clearinghouse that has been critical of capital punishment. But 11 of the states that allow executions - along with the federal government and the U.S. military - haven't had one in at least a decade.

Nebraska, in fact, is among 7 states that have the death penalty but haven't carried out an execution in at least 15 years. New Hampshire hasn't executed an inmate since 1939; the other states in this category are Kansas (last execution in 1965), Wyoming (1992), Colorado and Oregon (both 1997), and Pennsylvania (1999). Executions have occurred somewhat more recently - though still more than a decade ago - in California, Montana, Nevada and North Carolina (all in 2006).

The last federal execution also took place more than 15 years ago, in March 2003. While the U.S. military retains its own authority to carry out executions, it hasn't done so since 1961.

All 11 states that have the death penalty but haven't used it in at least a decade have inmates on death row, as do the federal government and U.S. military. The size of these death row populations ranges from just one inmate each in New Hampshire and Wyoming to 744 in California, which has by far the largest death row in the nation.

California's death row population has increased by nearly 1/3 since 2000California's death row has grown by nearly 100 inmates, or 15%, since January 2006, when it carried out its last execution, and by nearly 30% since 2000, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which tracks death row populations for all states. The increase reflects the fact that California juries have continued to sentence convicted defendants to death even as executions themselves have been on hold in recent years amid legal and political disputes.

One stark reflection of the longtime suspension of capital punishment in California is that executions now rank behind natural causes and suicide as the third most common cause of death for those on death row there, according to data from the state's corrections department. Just 15 of the 128 California death row inmates who have died since 1978 were executed.

The federal government's death row has also grown substantially since the last federal execution. There are currently 63 federal inmates sentenced to death, up from 26 in January 2003 (just before the federal government's most recent execution).

The increases in the number of people on death row in California and at the federal level are notable because they run counter to the national trend. Nationwide, the number of inmates on death row fell 24% between 2000 and 2017, from 3,682 to 2,792, according to the NAACP's figures.

A variety of factors explain this decrease. For one thing, 867 executions were carried out between 2000 and 2017, including 346 in Texas alone, according to a database compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center. Many other death row prisoners have died of other causes. Another 78 were removed from death row between 2000 and 2017 because they were exonerated, whether by acquittal, dropped charges or pardons. And the number of new defendants sentenced to death has declined sharply, from 223 in 2000 to just 39 last year.

Legal and political factors have played a prominent role in several of the states that have the death penalty but have not carried out an execution for 10 years or more. In California, for example, courts struck down the state's lethal injection protocol in 2006 and the state did not propose a replacement method until years later. In 2016, California voters approved a ballot initiative intended to speed up the death penalty process.

In Nebraska, the state legislature abolished capital punishment in 2015, only for voters to reinstate it at the ballot box in 2016. That has paved the way for the planned execution of Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of murdering 2 men in 1979. The execution still may be postponed, however, due to a late court challenge over how the state acquired its lethal injection drugs.

Nebraska's Catholic governor, Pete Ricketts, is a supporter of capital punishment and has vowed to move forward with executions in the state despite Pope Francis' announcement earlier this month that the Catholic Church would oppose the death penalty in all circumstances.

(source: pewresearch.org)

SAUDI ARABIA:

EYE FOR AN EYE---- Paralysis, eye gouging and crucifixion -- the Medieval and grotesque punishments faced by criminals in Saudi Arabia; Saudi Arabia continues use barbaric methods of execution claiming they are justified by the Quran and its traditions

Saudi Arabia has some of the most barbaric and bizarre punishments in the world. Public beheadings, amputations, eye for an eye retribution and flogging all form part of the justice system.

As The Sun reported this week, a murderer was crucified after being found guilty of repeatedly stabbing a woman, his body hung on a cross after execution.

Crown Prince Salman wants to make the desert kingdom a tech savvy 21st century nation and has introduced liberal reforms.

Yet for all his ambitions, the country still has the trappings of one caught in a altogether different era, particularly when it comes to its justice system.

Saudi Arabia retains the death penalty for a large number of offences including drug trafficking and "sorcery" as well as murder.

The majority of death sentences are carried out in public by beheading, drawing comparisons with the shocking brutality of the Islamic State.

The system is based on Shariah law, which the Saudis say is rooted in Islamic tradition and the Quran.

While they insist trials are conducted to the strictest standards of fairness, evidence has emerged from the country to suggest the opposite.

Trials are reported to have lasted a day and confessions extracted under torture.

The country has no written penal code and no code of criminal procedure and judicial procedure.

That allows courts wide powers to determine what constitutes a criminal offence and what sentences crimes deserve.

The only means of appeal is directly to the King, who decides whether the condemned lives or dies.

The list of punishments makes for grim reading.

Beheading

Last year the kingdom year carried out 146 executions, the 3rd highest rate in the world behind China and Iran, according to Amnesty International.

In the first 4 months of this year alone it has carried out 86 beheadings, 1/2 of them for non-violent crimes such as drugs offences.

There has been a surge in executions since last month, with at least 27 people executed in July alone, say Amnesty International.

Beheading remains the most common form of execution and the sentence traditionally carried out in a public square on a Friday after prayers.

Deera Square in the centre of the capital Riyadh is known locally as "Chop Chop Square".

The work maybe grim but country's chief executioner appeared to take pride in his work.

After visiting the victim's family to see if they want to forgive the prisoner, they are then taken for beheading.

"When they get to the execution square, their strength drains away," the BBC reported Muhammad Saad al-Beshi as saying.

"Then I read the execution order, and at a signal I cut the prisoner's head off.".

A recent surge in rate of executions led to ads place for an 8 executioners on the civil service jobs website.

In Saudi Arabia, the practice of "crucifixion" refers to the court-ordered public display of the body after execution, along with the separated head if beheaded.

In one case pictures on social media appearing to show 5 decapitated bodies hanging from a horizontal pole with their heads wrapped in bags.

The beheading and "crucifixion" took place in front of the University of Jizan where students were taking exams takes place in a public square to act as a deterrent.

Paralysis

The ability of courts to decide for themselves sentences that fit the crime has led to sentences of "qisas" or retribution.

The most high profile example was that of Ali al-Khawahir, who was 14 when stabbed a friend in the neck, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.

10 years later was sentenced to be paralysed unless he paid a million Saudi riyals to the victim.

At the time Amnesty International said the sentence was "utterly shocking" even for Saudi Arabia.

In such cases, the victim can demand the punishment be carried out, request financial compensation or grant a conditional or unconditional pardon.

Stoning

Stoning remains a punishment for adultery for women in Saudi Arabia.

According to 1 witness, the accused are put into holes and then have rocks tipped on them from a truck.

In 2015 a married 45-year-old woman, originally from Sri Lanka, who was working as a maid in Riyadh, was sentenced to death by stoning.

Her partner, who was single and also from Sri Lanka, was given a punishment of 100 lashes after being found guilty of the same offence.

Eye Gouging

Abd ul-Latif Noushad, an Indian citizen, was sentenced to have his right eye gouged out in retribution for his role in a brawl in which a Saudi citizen was injured.

He worked at a petrol station and got into an altercation about a jump lead a customer wanted a refund for and in the ensuing struggle struck the other man on the head, hitting his eye.

A court of appeal in Riyadh has reportedly merely asked whether the Saudi man would accept monetary compensation instead, according to Human Rights Watch.

On September 16, 2004, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that a court in Tabuk ordered the right eye of Muhammad `Ayid Sulaiman al-Fadili al-Balawi to be gouged out.

The court gave him the option of paying compensation within one year and it was reported he had raised the 1.4 million riyals required.

Another Saudi newspaper, ArabNews, reported on December 6 that a court had recently sentenced an Egyptian man in to having his eye gouged.

He was accused of throwing acid in the face of another man, who subsequently lost his eyesight.

Flogging

Those convicted of insulting Islam can also expect to be flogged.

In a case that has brought international condemnation, blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 lashes as well as 10 years behind bars.

Video shows a crowd cheering as the first 50 lashes of his sentence was carried out, an ordeal which his wife Ensaf Haidar, who says nearly killed him.

Last year a man was sentenced 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing his atheism on Twitter.

The 28-year-old reportedly refused to repent, insisting what he wrote reflected his beliefs and that he had the right to express them.

(source: thesun.co.uk)

ZIMBABWE:

Bulawayo 'serial killer' gets death sentence

BULAWAYO "serial killer" Rodney Tongai Jindu yesterday pulled another shocker when he pleaded for assisted suicide before he was eventually sentenced to death for the callous murder of 2 of his friends last year.

Jindu (27) of Glengarry suburb in the city was arrested 8 months ago in connection with the deaths of Mboneli Joko Ncube and Cyprian Kudzurunga.

He shot dead Kudzurunga (28) of Queens Park East on January 29, buried him in a shallow grave in Burnside suburb and sent a message to the deceased's mother pretending to be her son who had suddenly decided to leave the country.

He also shot Ncube and maimed his body and set the parts on fire before burying them in 4 shallow graves in Burnside.

During trial, Jindu told the court that he was sent by the devil to kill 2 of his victims and threatened to unleash the evil spirit on prosecutors.

He said when he committed the 2 murders, he was under the influence of heroin and methamphetamine (crystal meth) which created an urge for him to kill.

Jindu also confessed that he ate the pair's raw livers and cooked the brains before consuming them.

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo ignored Jindu's "unreasonable plea" when she convicted him of murder with actual intent.

In sentencing Jindu, Justice Moyo said capital punishment was the most appropriate sentence.

"The accused person is convicted of 2 counts of murder with actual intent. You killed 2 people in a space of 3 weeks. You mutilated the body of the deceased in count 1; you took away property belonging to the deceased in count 2.

He (Jindu) executed the murders meticulously by first of all carrying a gun which should have been kept at his mother's home. He then tried in a very clever way to conceal the murders by first sending text messages to the relatives of his victims as to the deceased whereabouts. He also deceived the police," she said.

Justice Moyo said Jindu then came up with a flowery story that Lucifer commanded him to murder the 2.

"He even refused to divulge intricate details of the murders hiding behind his fabricated Lucifer image. He cannot be found to be remorseful. His Lucifer version means that he is still bent on tricking the court right up to the end," she said.

Justice Moyo said Jindu committed murder with 4 aggravating features: mutilation of the deceased's body in count 1, 2 series of murders in a short space of time, pre-planning and theft of a laptop which amounts to a robbery in relation to the deceased in count 2.

"The accused played God when he decided when his 2 friends would die. He breached the trust they bestowed upon him when he decided to end their lives," she said.

Justice Moyo ruled that under the circumstances, Jindu deserved nothing else other than capital punishment.

"If the accused person does not deserve capital punishment or if he is spared capital punishment then it means the relevance of capital punishment as enshrined in our law will become meaningless," she said.

"There is no weighty mitigation that has been submitted neither has there been any glaring facts in the court record that could outweigh the meting out of capital punishment in these circumstances. It is for these reasons that the court finds that the only punishment that befits the circumstances of this case is capital punishment".

Asked if he had any reasons or objection as to why the death sentence cannot be passed on him, Jindu responded: "It's fine, it's fine, it's fine".

Justice Moyo told him that he has a right of appeal against both conviction and sentence.

As Jindu's lawyer, Mr Dixon Abraham, was presenting his mitigation, Jindu abruptly interjected and asked for assisted suicide much to the shock of his lawyer.

"My Lady, I don't mean to be disrespectful but could I get assisted suicide?" pleaded Jindu.

However, Justice Moyo quickly interjected and said he would get a chance to speak.

In mitigation, Mr Abraham appealed for a lesser sentence saying Jindu had been remorseful as he had apologised to his mother and the deceased's families.

"How does it benefit society or the court to extinguish another life?" he said.

The State represented by Chief Public Prosecutor Mrs Tariro Rosa Takuva and prosecutor Ms Nokuthaba Ngwenya pushed for the death sentence saying the murders were committed in aggravating circumstances.

(source: bulawayo24.com)

MALAYSIA:

Man gets death sentence for killing PKR man Bill Kayong

A 30-year-old man, accused of murdering Miri PKR secretary Bill Kayong 2 years ago, was sentenced to death by the High Court here today.

The punishment was meted out by High Court Judge P. Ravinthran after the accused, Mohamad Fitri Fauzi was found guilty of fatally shooting the native rights activist on June 21, 2016.

The offence, under Section 302 of the Penal Code, carries the mandatory death penalty.

Ravinthran also ruled that the prosecution that the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.

According to the charge sheet read by Deputy Public Prosecutor Nur Nisla Abdul Latif, Mohamad Fitri was accused of committing the offence at a traffic light junction at Jalan Miti-Kuala Baram on June 21, 2016 at 8.20am.

Bill Kayong or Mohd Hasbie Abdullah died of gun shot wounds at the scene.

4 suspects, including Mohamad Fitri and a 'Datuk', were detained since 2016 to facilitate police investigations into the murder.

3 of them were freed on June 6, last year, as there was insufficient evidence linking them to Mohamad Fitri and the crime.

(source: nsst.com.my)

IRAN:

Iran's Judiciary Threatens Executions for Economic 'Crimes'

Iran's senior officials are attempting to head off a looming economic crisis - triggered by the return of US sanctions - with threats of new rights-abusing policies.

Tehran's prosecutor, Jafari Dolatabadi, on Wednesday warned that importers who abuse government subsidies could be charged with "corruption on earth," which carries a possible death sentence.

Several hardliner newspapers and parliamentarians have echoed Dolatabadi's call to execute people found responsible for contributing to the country's economic instability.

After the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran, the economy is in dire straits. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the Iranian rial has lost 70 % of its value since May. Possible massive corruption will not help protect people's economic rights. Amidst these deteriorating economic conditions, Iranians have sporadically protested economic conditions, government corruption, and lack of social and political rights since late December 2017.

While Iranian officials have called on the judiciary to prosecute economic crimes, the threat of applying the death penalty is very alarming. Iran is notorious for executing people for crimes that do not meet the basic international standard of limiting capital punishment to the most serious offenses. According to Amnesty International, in 2017 alone, Iran executed at least 507 people, including those who were convicted for crimes they committed as children.

Iran has also executed several people on vague fraud charges with little transparency or due process. In 2014, authorities executed Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, a billionaire businessman at the heart of a US$2.6 billion state banking scam in Iran, without even informing his lawyer. Today, Babak Zanjani, a businessman, is on death row on charges of withholding billions in oil revenue channeled through his companies as part of Iran's efforts to evade sanctions.

The Iranian economy became increasingly non-transparent while it was under heavy international sanctions between 2010 and 2013. Today, officials increasingly talk about the need to combat corruption at every level. Yet to do so requires an independent judiciary that ensures due process rights for all those accused.

The judiciary's long record of violating detainees' rights and wanton application of the death penalty raises grave concerns. Executions, an inhumane and inherently irreversible punishment, are never the answer, and in this case can only distract from other causes of this economic turmoil.

(source: Human Rights Watch)

AUGUST 10, 2018:

OHIO:

Cleveland man whose 2002 death sentence overturned can't have jury hear new sentencing, court rules

A convicted serial rapist and killer whose 2002 death sentence was overturned on appeal must have his re-sentencing hearing heard by a 3-judge panel and not a jury, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The ruling overturned a March 2017 decision by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams to grant Kelly Foust's request to have a jury, rather than a panel of judges similar to the one that originally sentenced him, recommend his new sentence.

Foust waived his right to a jury trial at the beginning of his case and the Supreme Court ruled that Ohio law bars a defendant from revoking that waiver.

The ruling comes after a protracted legal battle between lawyers representing Foust, Collier-Williams and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.

Foust was convicted in the March 2001 murder of Jose Coreano and the rape of a 17-year-old girl. A 3-judge panel sentenced Foust to death in January 2002.

Foust broke into the house looking for his estranged girlfriend. He beat the sleeping Coreano to death with a claw hammer and set the house on fire.

Foust waived his right to have a jury hear the guilt and sentencing phases of his trial.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Foust's death sentence in 2011 and ordered him to be re-sentenced after justices found that Foust's lawyers did not present evidence of "horrific" childhood abuse.

Prosecutors and Foust's lawyers have been locked in legal battle since then over whether Foust could rescind his jury waiver for his new sentencing phase.

A team of Ohio Public Defenders that represents Foust filed a new request to have a jury recommend his sentence after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Florida's death penalty statute. They argued that decision guarantees defendants facing the death penalty "an unequivocal right" to have a jury determine facts necessary to impose a sentence of death.

But the court rejected that argument, pointing to Ohio law that lays out who should preside over a re-sentencing of defendant whose death sentence was overturned.

"If the offender was tried by a jury, the trial court shall impanel a new jury for the hearing," the law says. "If the offender was tried by a panel of three judges, that panel or, if necessary, a new panel of three judges, shall conduct the hearing."

Collier-Williams "clearly and unambiguously" lacked authority to impanel a jury, the court found.

"Judge Collier Williams sought to ensure the court's compliance with Mr. Foust's constitutionally protected right to a jury trial in accord with law handed down by the US Supreme Court," Larry Zukerman, who represented Collier-Williams before the Supreme Court in the case, said in an emailed statement.

After his imprisonment, Foust was tied to 3 other sexual assaults, including the 1 at the heart of his initial arrest. He pleaded guilty to 3 counts of felony sexual battery in 2016. Collier-Williams sentenced him to 5 years in prison in that case.

(source: cleveland.com)

TENNESSEE----execution

Tennessee Executes Inmate With Controversial Drugs Despite Sotomayor's Powerful Dissent----Justice says the U.S. is "accepting barbarism" as the execution of Billy Ray Irick is allowed to go forward.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a blistering dissent that we are "accepting barbarism" after the Supreme Court refused to halt Tennesee's execution Thursday night of Billy Ray Irick, 59, using a controversial drug combination.

Irick was put to death for the 1985 rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer. He coughed, choked and gasped for air after the 3-drug cocktail was administered, The Tennessean reported. His face turned dark purple as he died.

Before the lethal drugs were injected, Irick said, "I just want to say I'm really sorry and that, that's it." Blinds between the execution room and witnesses were opened at 7:26 p.m. Central time, and Irick was declared dead at 7:48.

Sotomayor accused the U.S. of no longer being a civilized nation and "accepting barbarism" in a blistering dissent after the high court refused Thursday to stop the execution using drugs that had resulted in painful, botched executions in the past.

Irick and several other death row inmates sued early this year to halt the execution, arguing that the state's new death cocktail, including the controversial sedative midazolam, would be tantamount to torture and a violation of the Constitution's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment."

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan denied a request to stay Irick's execution.

"In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the Court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the State of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody," Sotomayor wrote in her moving dissent Thursday.

During a trial in state court, medical experts "explained in painstaking detail how the 3-drug cocktail Tennessee plans to inject into Irick's veins will cause him to experience sensations of drowning, suffocating and being burned alive from the inside out," she wrote. "The entire process will last at least 10 minutes and perhaps as many as 18."

If the law "permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we have stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism."

Irick, who had a history of mental illness, was the 1st inmate killed by the state since 2009 and the 1st to be executed with the new drug cocktail.

Medical experts testified in Irick's court case that midazolam is not powerful enough to sedate prisoners who are experiencing deadly, caustic chemicals being pumped into their veins. Experts described midazolam as something given to hospital patients to relax them before anesthesia. The drug is not powerful enough to prevent inmates from feeling pain from a 2nd paralytic drug (vecuronium bromide), and then the death agent potassium chloride, which has been described by the Supreme Court as "chemically burning at the stake."

In 2014, an inmate in Oklahoma grimaced and kicked during his 2014 deadly injection including midazolam. Authorities called off the execution, but he died shortly after. One Arizona execution using the drug lasted 2 hours.

Ironically, the death row prisoners lost their case in part because they could offer no court-accepted alternatives for more effective drugs.

Europe, which opposes the death penalty, has refused to sell more effective drugs to the U.S. that have been traditionally used for executions. Domestic drugmakers have also objected to their drugs being used in executions, according to The Washington Post.

Irick was living with Paula Dyer's mother and stepfather in 1985 when he attacked the girl. The family reported that Irick heard voices and was "taking instructions from the devil," according to court records.

Irick is the 133rd person executed in Tennessee since 1916.

(source: Huffington Post)

**********

Tennessee executes Billy Ray Irick, 1st lethal injection in state since 2009

Death row inmate Billy Ray Irick died at 7:48 p.m. Thursday after Tennessee prison officials administered a lethal dose of toxic chemicals. He was 59.

His execution, the 1st in Tennessee since 2009, comes after his 1986 conviction in Knox County for the rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer.

Witnesses to the execution included members of Paula's family, Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones, Tennessee Deputy Attorney General Scott Sutherland, Irick's attorney Gene Shiles and 7 members of the media.

Irick is the 133rd person put to death by Tennessee since 1916. Before Irick, all but 6 executions occurred before 1961.

Moments before officials began administering the fatal doses, Irick, held down by straps over his chest and arms, muttered his final words: "I just want to say I'm really sorry. And that ... that's it."

The execution began later than scheduled, the blinds to the execution room being lifted at 7:26 p.m., 16 minutes later than the expected time of 7:10 p.m.

Irick, dressed in a white prison jumpsuit and black socks, was coughing, choking and gasping for air. His face turned dark purple as the lethal drugs took over, media witnesses reported.

"I never thought for one moment that it would come to this," Shiles said inside the prison before the execution began. "I never did."

Witnesses entered the execution viewing chamber at 6:43 p.m., where prison officials turned out the lights until the blinds to the glass were lifted.

Shiles and Deputy Attorney General Scott Sutherland left the viewing room at 7:12 p.m., presumably to go into the execution chamber and observe Irick's IV being adminsitered.

When the 2 men returned into the observation room around 7:25 p.m., Shiles told witnesses that he kissed Irick and touched him.

Moments later the blinds lifted and Irick made his statement, the administration of a combination of powerful and deadly medications commenced.

First the executioner injected Irick with midazolam, a drug intended to render Irick unconscious.

After Riverbend Warden Tony Mays determined Irick was unconscious, the executioner injected vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. The drugs are intended to stop Irick's lungs and heart.

Around the country, death row offenders have writhed, screamed, groaned and gasped as lethal injection drugs take longer than expected to work - or don't work at all.

At least twice in Ohio, the state had to call off executions after prison staff could not find a viable vein for the intravenous injection of the drugs.

Irick was a heavy-set man. Tennessee does not change its execution protocol depending on the body type of the condemned. But midazolam has a different effect on different people.

Before his death, Irick ate his last meal. Shiles said earlier Thursday that Irick was in good spirits and understood he would be executed.

Irick lived with Paula's mother and stepfather, Kathy and Kenny Jeffers, in 1985. Although the family allowed the then-26-year-old Irick to live with them for some time, years after the crime they reported he exhibited signs of mental illness.

Kathy Jeffers was among the small group of Dyer's family members seen quietly coming and going from Riverbend Maximum Security Institute Thursday evening, walking out after the execution with a tissue in her left hand.

She chose not to speak at a news conference being held afterward outside the prison.

Jeffers had warned her husband she didn't want to leave the children with Irick the night of Paula's killing, that she'd seen him muttering to himself in a half-drunk rage on the porch before she left for work.

Court records show the family reported Irick heard voices and was "taking instructions from the devil." He also reportedly, while carrying a machete, chased after a young girl in Knoxville in the days proceeding Paula's death.

On April 15, 1985, Irick called Kenny Jeffers to say Paula would not wake up.

Her parents found Paula dead on their bed. An autopsy showed she died of asphyxiation. Irick initially tried to hitchhike out of town, but was caught by police the day after Paula's death.

Before and during his 32 years on death row, Irick repeatedly attempted to convince courts he was too mentally ill to be executed or that the drugs set for use in a lethal injection would violate his constitutional right not to be tortured to death.

While courts did delay his execution several times, most recently in 2014, no court decided to weigh in to prevent his death this time.

People came out to the site of the execution of Billy Ray Irick Andrew Nelles and Holly Meyer

"I thought somebody would actually look at the facts," Shiles said Thursday just before the execution, referring to evidence supporting Irick's mental illness. "I was wrong."

Roughly 5 hours before Irick's death, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan denied his request to delay his execution. However, fellow Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the decision not to delay the execution while the state reviewed its lethal injection method.

"In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the Court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the state of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody, while shrouding his suffering behind a veneer of paralysis," Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.

"I cannot in good conscience join in this 'rush to execute' without first seeking every assurance that our precedent permits such results ... if the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism."

Thursday afternoon, Catholic bishops in Nashville and Knoxville noted Pope Francis' recent rebuke of the death penalty to condemn Irick's execution.

"The state has the obligation to protect all people and to impose just punishment for crimes, but in the modern world the death penalty is not required for either of these ends," wrote Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville and J. Mark Spalding of Nashville.

Appeal continues against Tennessee's lethal injection protocol

It's unclear what impact Irick's execution will have on a pending legal challenge to the state's lethal injection protocol.

Irick joined 32 other death row inmates in a lawsuit arguing the 3 drugs Tennessee uses for lethal injections would violate their constitutional right to not be tortured to death. Experts at a trial in Davidson County argued the 1st drug, midazolam, does not always work as intended to render an offender unconscious and unable to feel pain.

If the midazolam does not work, then the second and third drugs will cause pain similar to being burned alive and drowned, argued experts and attorneys for the death row offenders.

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle agreed the condemned may feel pain as he or she dies, but noted there is no legal right to a painless death.

She rejected the inmates' lawsuit, prompting an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Citing a procedural bar for the first time, a majority of the state's high court determined the inmates had a low chance at succeeding and therefore Irick's execution should not be delayed.

"By applying the law and requiring satisfaction of this legal standard, we are not 'rush(ing) to execute' Mr. Irick. In fact, this suggestion is astonishing, actually, given that Mr. Irick was convicted and sentenced 32 years ago and has obtained multiple stays over the years," the 4-member majority wrote in a footnote of their opinion.

In a relatively unusual move, Justice Sharon Lee dissented.

"The harm to Mr. Irick of an unconstitutional execution is irreparable," Lee wrote in a forceful break with the majority. "Yet the harm to the State from briefly delaying the execution until after appellate review is minimal, if any."

Immediately after the state Supreme Court's decision, Gov. Bill Haslam also announced he would not intervene.

"My role is not to be the 13th juror or the judge or to impose my personal views, but to carefully review the judicial process to make sure it was full and fair," Haslam said in a news release earlier this week. "Because of the extremely thorough judicial review of all of the evidence and arguments at every stage in this case, clemency is not appropriate."

In January, the Tennessee Supreme Court scheduled an Oct. 11 execution for Edmond Zagorski and a Dec. 11 death date for David Earl Miller.

Irick becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death in Tennessee since the state resumed capital punishment in 2000.

Irick becomes the 15th condemned inmate to be put to death in the USA this year and the 1480th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(source: The Tennessean & Rick Halperin)

OKLAHOMA:

Execution protocol misses deadline; no date to resume

Despite promises to have a new execution protocol drafted by July, officials said this week that implementation remains unfinished with no planned date for executions to resume.

Officials with the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Corrections, meanwhile, now say there is no estimated completion date for the state's new nitrogen hypoxia protocol.

"I don't know that there's necessarily been a holdup," said Matt Elliott, a corrections spokesman. "We're still working with the AG's Office in developing a protocol that is effective and humane."

In March, Attorney General Mike Hunter and Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh announced Oklahoma would stop using lethal injection because the execution drugs were increasingly difficult to obtain.

The officials said they planned to implement a 2015 law that allows executions using nitrogen hypoxia. If successfully implemented, Oklahoma would become the first state to execute inmates using the untried method of inert gases.

At the time, the men said they hoped to have the new gas protocols drafted within 120 days. Executions would resume as soon as possible after that. State law also allows for executions by firing squad or electric chair.

Executions have been on hold since 2015 following several mishaps. A bungled procedure in 2014 left an inmate writhing on the gurney. In 2015, an execution was reportedly carried out with the wrong drug, and a 2nd halted after a similar issue was discovered.

Meanwhile, 16 death row inmates have exhausted all appeals and are awaiting execution dates, according to state records. A 17th inmate, who also had exhausted all appeals, committed suicide earlier this year.

"It's really just about getting it right," said Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for the AG's Office. "It's important to get it right. And (the Department of Corrections) is still working on the protocol."

Hunter's office will review the protocol after it's completed.

Typically, officials don't tell anyone when states start working on new execution protocols, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. The nonprofit provides information and analysis on death penalty issues.

Oklahoma officials had to reveal their plans because the state remains under court order not to conduct any executions until it has a new protocol in place that can survive legal challenges, he said.

"It reached the point that it had to say something to show it was doing something to move forward," Dunham said.

Still, it's not unusual for states to spend at least a year developing protocols, he said.

What is unusual is that Oklahoma publicly said it could develop a protocol for new execution method within 120 days, he said.

"I think that they did not appreciate the difficulty in ironing out all the details, and I think that's in large measure because the Legislature acted first and left it to the department to investigate what was really necessary to bring it to reality," Dunham said.

He said Oklahoma officials may be grappling with concerns about how to safety administer the deadly, odorless gas without poisoning prison employees and execution bystanders as well as design and cost questions.

"It did not appear that the Oklahoma (Legislature) had taken into consideration all of the difficulties in using nitrogen hypoxia in carrying out executions," Dunham said. "The bill rocketed through the Legislature without much critical thought."

(source: Tahlequah Daily Press)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

Nebraska Plans 1st Execution in 21 Years. Not So Fast, Drug Company Says.

Carey Dean Moore, who faces the death penalty next week for killing 2 taxi drivers in Omaha in 1979, has stopped fighting his looming execution. But his life may be extended by a German drugmaker that says it produced 2 of the drugs that are to be injected into Mr. Moore's veins.

Fresenius Kabi, one of Germany's largest companies, has asked a judge to block the use of its drugs in Nebraska's 1st execution in 21 years and its 1st-ever lethal injection. Use of the drugs, the company says, will cause grave harm to its reputation if products intended to help treat people are used to kill.

A hearing is planned for Friday afternoon in Federal District Court in Lincoln, and if the judge grants the company's request for an injunction it could delay the execution, scheduled for Tuesday.

2 drugs Fresenius says it manufactured, along with 2 other drugs, are set to be used in Mr. Moore's execution.

Fresenius says it takes no position on capital punishment, but that it has strict contracts with distributors that ban sales to prisons for executions or to anyone other than hospitals and other medical users. It says Nebraska illegally obtained both a muscle relaxant and a drug that, when given at extremely high doses, can stop a beating heart.

In Nebraska, any delay could further complicate matters because the state's supply of 1 of the drugs, potassium chloride, expires in 3 weeks, and its supply of the other, cisatracurium, expires on Oct. 31, according to Scott R. Frakes, the state corrections director. The drugs used in lethal injection have become increasingly difficult to obtain as pharmaceutical companies try to clamp down on their use and death penalty opponents argue that new drug protocols are unproven or inhumane.

On Thursday night, Tennessee carried out its 1st execution since 2009, putting Billy Ray Irick to death for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in 1985. The state used a combination of drugs that Mr. Irick's lawyers had argued could make the condemned feel like they were burning alive and drowning.

According to The Tennessean newspaper, Mr. Irick "was coughing, choking and gasping for air" and "his face turned dark purple as the lethal drugs took over."

In its lawsuit, Fresenius has raised the specter that use of the drugs could lead to a botched execution, saying that its drugs, when obtained improperly, are at risk of being handled or transported in ways that leave them adulterated and chemically altered. For example, it says cisatracurium, the muscle relaxant, loses effectiveness when not refrigerated in the carton between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, but that Nebraska's execution protocols call for the drugs to be stored at "room temperature storage conditions."

The company says it determined it was the maker of the potassium chloride because an inventory of drugs kept by the state showed that its stockpile came in vials of 30 milliliters. Fresenius says it is the only manufacturer that packages the drug in vials of that size.

"We made no sales to the Department of Correctional Services, nor have any of our authorized distributors," Fresenius Kabi wrote in a statement. "So we can only conclude Nebraska may have acquired this product from an unauthorized seller."

Nebraska is fighting separate legal efforts to force it to disclose where it got the drugs. A statement issued by Attorney General Doug Peterson said the drugs "were purchased lawfully and pursuant to the state of Nebraska's duty to carry out lawful capital sentences."

But neither the statement, nor state officials on Thursday, said which company manufactured the drugs, what temperature they are being stored at or whether an injunction would delay the execution. The offices of Mr. Peterson and the Nebraska governor, Pete Ricketts, did not respond to messages on Thursday.

The planned execution of Mr. Moore, 60, is also notable because it would be the first-ever lethal injection in the United States that uses fentanyl, a powerful opioid that is at the heart of the nation's overdose crisis. Mr. Moore has ceased efforts to prevent his execution.

It is also the 2nd time in a month that pharmaceutical manufacturers have sought to block a state from using their drugs in an execution.

In July, the execution of Scott Dozier in Nevada was delayed after a drug maker, Alvogen, said 1 of the drugs in the state's execution protocol had been obtained illicitly. 2 other companies that also make drugs that Nevada wants to use in the execution, Sandoz and Hikma Pharmaceuticals, have also sought to block the state from using their products.

Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, a human rights organization in London, said there is now consensus in the pharmaceutical industry that it should fight to prevent its products from being used in executions.

"We've come to a tipping point in terms of the industry's desire to see their contracts and rights respected and enforced," Ms. Foa said.

On top of that, she said, state governments are undermining public health by using murky or illegal drug distribution channels to traffic in powerful narcotics and other drugs.

"That's scandalizing in a climate where we're seeing a hundred people dying every day from the opioid epidemic," she said.

The drug companies' aggressive maneuvers have put officials in some death penalty states on the defensive. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Nevada Supreme Court in the Dozier case, 15 other states contend that the drug companies' arguments are groundless.

Their lawsuits "do not even need to succeed on the merits in order to achieve the desired outcome and prevent an execution," their brief states. "Instead, they merely have to obtain an injunction preventing a state from carrying out an execution on the scheduled date. And that alone might delay an execution long enough that a state's drugs could expire."

Leslie Rutledge, the attorney general of Arkansas, one of the 15 states, argued that the companies "are being pressured by anti-death-penalty advocates to stop supplying the drug to carry out lawful executions," adding: "The families of these victims deserve justice."

The other states supporting Nevada's effort to execute Mr. Dozier over the drug companies' objections are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

(source: New York Times)

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

With no other drug source, execution window closes Aug. 31, Nebraska prisons director says

Nebraska's prisons director said Thursday the window to execute Carey Dean Moore closes Aug. 31 because the state has no other source for the lethal injection drug that expires on that date.

So granting a restraining order to block next week's execution would have the effect of changing the death sentence "into a de facto sentence of life in prison for Carey Dean Moore," said Scott Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Frakes filed an affidavit Thursday in response to allegations raised in a federal lawsuit filed this week by drug manufacturer Fresenius Kabi. The German-based corporation has asked a court to block Nebraska from using potassium chloride it manufactured in Tuesday's execution of Moore.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, the company alleged the state obtained the drug improperly or illegally.

A federal judge will hold a hearing at 3 p.m. Friday in Lincoln to rule on a temporary restraining order sought by the drug company.

Frakes said in his affidavit that the state legally purchased its four death penalty drugs from a licensed pharmacy. Frakes said he found the pharmacy after contacting at least 40 suppliers and 6 states in an unsuccessful search for drugs.

"That supplier is unwilling to provide additional substances," Frakes stated. "I do not, at present nor at any time in the future, have an alternative supplier for any of the four substances to be administered for execution by lethal injection."

Moore, who has spent 38 years on death row, says he's ready to die in a lethal injection scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday. He has not participated in the drug lawsuit or other legal challenges to prevent his execution.

One of the longest serving death row inmates in the nation, Moore, 60, was sentenced to death for the 1979 slayings of Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland in Omaha.

(source: Omaha World-Herald)

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

Nebraska prisons director says state can't buy execution drugs again

Nebraska prisons Director Scott Frakes has told a federal court it did not obtain any drugs to be used in Carey Dean Moore's execution by fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, as an Illinois-based drug manufacturer says.

Furthermore, Frakes said, if the court prevents the state from carrying out Tuesday's scheduled execution, it would likely change the death sentence into a de facto life sentence for Moore.

The state doesn't have any other way to buy the drugs that comply with Nebraska law and the department's protocol, Frakes said.

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services responded Thursday to a legal request by drug manufacturer Fresenius Kabi to stop the use of 2 drugs in Tuesday's execution.

A hearing on the matter is set for 3 p.m. Friday to decide whether to grant a temporary restraining order.

Manufacturer Fresenius Kabi filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday saying the cisatracurium and potassium chloride the state plans to use next week are manufactured by the company.

State inventories of the drug show the potassium chloride, which could be used to stop Moore's heart, are in 30-milliliter vials. The company alleges it is the only one with vials of the drug distributed in that size.

The department has not revealed the sources of its lethal injection drugs, despite a district court order, which it has appealed.

In his affidavit filed Thursday with the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, Frakes said the drugs were obtained from a licensed pharmacy in the United States, and it did not circumvent Fresenius Kabi's distribution controls.

The department's supply of potassium chloride will expire Aug. 31. Frakes said he has no other source or supplier for the drugs to be used next week or any time in the future.

The people of Nebraska have waited more than 20 years to carry out Moore's sentence, Frakes said. Moore has raised no objections to the sentence or tried to stop or delay it, he said.

"Lethal substances used in a lethal injection execution are difficult, if nearly impossible, to obtain," Frakes said in the affidavit.

It's a problem not only here but in other death penalty states, he said.

Frakes said he has tried to purchase additional execution drugs from the supplier of the current substances and that supplier is unwilling to provide them. He has no alternative supplier for any of the four drugs, he said.

Fresenius Kabi contends the department obtained the drugs improperly or illegally, and allowing their use would injure the company's reputation and damage business and investor relationships.

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)

BOTSWANA:

The Paradox of Botswana's Death Penalty

In the global effort to end capital punishment, Amnesty International calls Sub-Saharan Africa a "beacon of hope." But one country that typically ranks near the top of regional governance indexes continues to defend the practice.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, a region with no shortage of development challenges, Botswana stands out for its strong economy, stable democracy, and commitment to the rule of law. But by one measure - its support for capital punishment - Botswana is frighteningly narrow-minded. If the country of my birth is to retain its reputation as one of Africa's most liberal states, it must confront its affinity for the gallows.

According to Amnesty International, most of Africa is abandoning the death penalty. Today, just 10 African countries allow for capital punishment, and only a handful ever use it. Botswana - an affluent, landlocked, diamond-exporting state - is among the leading exceptions. After a lull in killings in 2017, Botswana has resumed executing convicted murderers; Joseph Tselayarona, 28, was executed in February, while Uyapo Poloko, 37, was put to death in May.

Botswana's legal system - and the basis for capital punishment - is rooted in English and Roman-Dutch common law. According to the country's penal code, the preferred punishment for murder is death by hanging. And, while the constitution protects a citizen's "right to life," it makes an exception when the termination of a life is "in execution of the sentence of a court."

But the country's relationship to the death penalty predates its current legal statutes. In the pre-colonial era, tribal chiefs - known as kgosi - imposed the penalty for crimes such as murder, sorcery, incest, and conspiracy. To this day, history is often invoked to defend the status quo. In a 2012 judgment, the Botswana Court of Appeals wrote that capital punishment has been imposed "since time immemorial," and "its abolition would be a departure from the accepted norm." After Tselayarona was executed, the government even tweeted a photo of then-President Ian Khama under a caption that read, "Death penalty serves nation well."

To be sure, the number of executions in Botswana pales in comparison to the world's leaders. Of the 993 executions recorded by Amnesty International last year, 84% were carried out by just 4 countries - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan. The total does not include China, believed to be the world's largest executioner, because death-penalty data there are classified as a state secret. By contrast, Botswana has executed roughly 50 people since independence in 1966. And yet the very existence of capital punishment will remain a stain on the country until it is abolished.

According to Amnesty International, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty. In its most recent death-penalty survey, the group pointed to Sub-Saharan Africa as a "beacon of hope" in the global effort to eradicate the practice. Last year, Kenya took a positive step by ending mandatory imposition of the death penalty for murder. And Guinea became the 20th country in the region to abolish capital punishment for all crimes. When will Botswana follow suit?

Botswana has been in the vanguard on human-rights issues before. For example, after South Africa's threat to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in October 2016, Botswana's leaders defended the ICC and reaffirmed their commitment to international law. Then, in February 2018, Khama broke the silence among African leaders and called for Joseph Kabila, the autocratic president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to "relinquish power." The same month, the Botswana government criticized the UN Security Council for its handling of the crisis in Syria.

Taking a progressive stance on the death penalty would seem a natural step in the evolution of Botswana's liberal agenda. But the government has only dug in deeper, and contradictory international laws mean that Botswana is under no great pressure to change course. While both the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights contain de facto prohibitions on capital punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognizes a state's authority to retain the practice. An "optional" auxiliary amendment to the ICCPR, adopted in 1989, sought to close this loophole, but Botswana did not sign it.

Public opinion also favors preserving the status quo. According to an online survey conducted by the national newspaper Mmegi, support for capital punishment remains high among voters, which explains why the issue has never gained traction in Parliament.

And yet there is simply no evidence to support the authorities' argument that the death penalty lowers rates of violent crime. Convincing the public of this will require visionary leadership, not to mention more legal challenges that force the courts to take up and debate the issue.

Botswana's would-be abolitionists need not look far for inspiration. When South Africa's Constitutional Court ended capital punishment in 1995, opponents of the decision argued that the court was not in tune with public opinion; some even called for a referendum. But the framers of South Africa's post-apartheid constitution, which entered into force in 1997, held their ground and the practice was abolished.

As the South African court wrote in its opinion: "Everyone, including the most abominable of human beings, has the right to life." The goal for leaders in Botswana must be to convince their constituents - and perhaps also themselves - to embrace the universality of that sentiment.

(source: Mary-Jean Nleya is an associate fellow of at the Royal Commonwealth Society and founder of The Global Communique, a digital current-affairs magazine. Previously, she was a contractor at the International Criminal Court, and, in 2015, she was selected as one of Africa's 100 brightest young minds by Brightest Young Minds, South Africa----Commentary; Project Syndicate)

INDIA:

HC upholds death penalty to rapist Says punishment may convey message to such predators

Observing that the extreme punishment may convey a message to predators (rapists) that they cannot get reprieve in the guise of humanity the high court's principal bench at Jabalpur upheld on Wednesday a death penalty awarded to a 23-year-old rapist who had killed his victim too.

The division bench of chief justice justice Hemant Gupta and justice Vijay Kumar Shukla said, "It is an act of extreme depravity when the appellant prompted a young child whose only fault was that she believed the appellant to be her well-wisher. The crimes against the girl child are on rise, therefore, extreme punishment may deter the other criminals indulging in such crime."

The bench said, "The extreme punishment may convey a message to these predators that it is not a soft state where the criminals committing such serious crimes may get reprieve in the guise of humanity. The humanity is more in danger in the hands of the persons like the appellant. Therefore, we find that the capital punishment awarded to the appellant is one of the rarest of rare cases where the extreme capital punishment is warranted."

As per copy of the judgment the crime was committed at a village in Shahdol district, 592 kilometers east of Bhopal, on May 13, 2017. The child's father is a labourer who was out of his house on his routine job when the girl was reported missing from her rented house in the morning. A frantic search for the girl led to no result.

During investigation wife of the landlord told the police that she had seen the accused Vinod alias Rahul Chaudaha taking the girl with him on the pretext of giving her biscuit and chocolate.

After arrest by police the accused confessed to have committed the crime and led the police team to a place where he had buried the girl's body. Forensic laboratory confirmed the DNA test as positive.

The district and sessions judge, Shahdol convicted the accused and sentenced him to death penalty on February 28, 2018 under sections 302 and 376A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 5/6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

(source: Hindustan Times)

SRI LANKA:

Noose looms large for Sri Lankan drug dealers----Activists and religious leaders oppose the government's decision to hang persistent offenders

Many drugs are smuggled into Sri Lanka on fishing vessels. A Sunday school teacher claims her fisherman father is innocent after drugs were found on his boat.

Harshi Sudarshani, a Sunday school teacher in Negombo, and her younger brother have faced strained relationships with their friends since their father was arrested on a drug charge.

The fisherman was arrested after packets of heroin were found on the boat in which he spends long periods at sea in search of tuna.

Sudarshani, who joined religious leaders on an anti-drug protest with thousands of others in Negombo in February, denies her father's involvement in drug trafficking and blames the businessman owner of the boat.

(source: La Croix International)

PAKISTAN:

Murder convict sentenced to death in Sargodha

A court sentenced a man to death sentence on Thursday for his involvement in a murder case in Sargodha. The judgment was announced by Additional District and Sessions Judge Javed Iqbal Ranjha.

The prosecution told the court that Ansar Iqbal, in connivance with Ghulam Murtaza, gunned down his uncle Muhammad Akram over a family dispute in 2016.

The local police registered a case against the accused and presented the challan before the court. After hearing the arguments, the judge handed down a death sentence to Ansar and imposed a fine of Rs0.3 million on him.

However, the court acquitted the other co-accused, giving him the benefit of doubt.

Earlier, a court awarded death penalty to a convict for his involvement in a murder case in Faisalabad. Additional Sessions Judge Asadullah Siraj announced the verdict.

(source: The Express Tribune)

IRAN:

Execution of at Least 2 Prisoners Including an Afghan Citizen

At least 2 prisoners were executed at Rajai Shahr Prison on murder charges. According to a close source, on the morning of Wednesday, August 8, at least 2 prisoners were executed at Rajai Shahr Prison. The prisoners, sentenced to death on murder charges, were transferred to the solitary confinement in a group of 6 on Sunday, August 5. The other 4 prisoners returned to their cells by either winning the consent of the plaintiffs or asking for time.

1 of the prisoners who was executed was identified as Mohammad Abdi from ward 10. He was arrested on the charge of murder 12 years ago.

A close source told IHR, "The plaintiffs didn't want to be present at the time of the execution, only their lawyer was there."

The other prisoner who was executed was an Afghan citizen who was sentenced to death on murder charges. He has not been identified so far.

The execution of these prisoners has not been announced by the state-run media so far.

According to confirmed reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR), at least 36 people were executed in different Iranian cities in the month of July, 24 of whom were sentenced to death on murder charges.

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

4 Afghan Citizens Scheduled to Be Executed

4 Afghan citizens who were sentenced to death on the charge of "armed drug trafficking and the murder of a police officer" are scheduled to be executed at Birjand Central Prison in the next few days.

According to a close source, 4 Afghan citizens are going to be executed at Birjand Central Prison in the next few days. The prisoners are named Shah Mohammad Miran Zehi, Eid Mohammad Miran Zehi, Mohammad Miran Zehi, and Ahmad Shah Saghzehi. The prisoners were sentenced to death on the charge of "armed drug trafficking and the murder of a police officer".

A co-defendant of the prisoners named Seraj Gavkhor, has been sentenced to 25 years and 1 day. All 5 prisoners are currently held at ward 105 of Birjand Central Prison. Their verdict was delivered to them on Saturday, August 4, and they were told that their sentence would be implemented before August 15.

Mohammad Miran Zehi told IHR, "They tortured and forced a confession out of us. They didn't find any weapons or drugs on us. We were unaware of the incident. We were tortured and made to accept the accusations. We denied the murder charge in the court but the judge didn't care. We didn't kill the guard. We were accused of killing him after we trespassed the border."

He continued, "They told us to admit to murdering a border guard in an assault, which we didn't. Then they told us that if we admitted to trafficking drugs from Afghanistan, they would save us from execution, but we didn't accept it. We only accepted the charges under torture but, in the court, we said that we were unaware of what happened and we were not involved in the murder at all."

The prisoners were sentenced to death on the charge of "armed drug trafficking" at branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Birjand.

A close source told IHR, "The defendants were in a village named Bandan when the border guards attacked them while they possessed no drugs or weapons. But they were charged with armed possession of 142 kilograms of opium and 2 Kalashnikov rifles." He added, "6 years ago, they were trying to cross the Iranian-Afghan border illegally when they were attacked by some border guards. A few days before that, a guard was murdered in an assault, that is why they tortured and made the defendants confess to murdering the guard."

It's worth mentioning that Birjand Central Prison is located in Birjand, South Khorasan province.

Iran Human Rights expresses its concern about the lack of a fair trial for these Afghan citizens and demands that Iranian judicial authorities should stop the execution of these prisoners immediately and hold a fair trial.

(source for both: Iran Human Rights)

AUGUST 9, 2018:

LOUISIANA:

Man sentenced to death for 1995 slaying of Metairie cab driver to get new trial

The stage is set for a man who was sentenced to death for the 1995 slaying of a cab driver in Metairie to receive a new trial later this year.

Teddy Chester did not have adequate legal representation when he was convicted for the killing, so he needed to be either retried or set free by Oct. 9, a federal judge in New Orleans ruled on June 11.

Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick's office had until Friday to appeal U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan's decision. But the office indicated Wednesday that it will not exercise that option, according to both the agency and Chester's attorney, Cecelia Kappel.

Kappel said her client is due at Gretna's 24th Judicial District Court on Thursday for a preliminary hearing ahead of the new trial. She maintains Chester's innocence, reiterating that convicted co-defendant Elbert Ratcliff was the killer. Ratcliff is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after exhausting his appeals.

"It's our position justice has been served and that this case should be closed," said Kappel, with the Promise of Justice Initiative.

Connick's office declined to elaborate on how it may move forward with Chester's case.

Chester, who lived in Kenner, was found guilty in 1997 of 1st-degree murder and sent to death row for the killing of 34-year-old John Adams 2 days after Christmas in 1995, when Chester was 18.

Authorities found Adams in his taxi on Calhoun Street in Metairie. He had been shot once in the back of the head. His business cards were scattered around him, and he had $300 in his pockets.

Fingerprints on the business cards led authorities to Ratcliff, who had fled with Chester. Ratcliff was later convicted of 2nd-degree murder and sentenced to life.

In turn, Ratcliff led investigators to Chester, with each of the men claiming they had climbed into Adams' cab to try to sell him something when the other man killed the victim to rob him.

Chester, now 40, pursued an appeal in Louisiana's state court system reluctantly. He repeatedly expressed a desire to end his appellate efforts and face execution before the state Supreme Court upheld his conviction in late 2016.

In extraordinary remarks, Supreme Court Justice Scott Crichton wrote that if it were solely up to him, he would have granted Chester his wish.

But, with help from Kappel's team, Chester soon filed for what is known as post-conviction relief in the federal court system, which sent the case to Morgan.

According to Morgan's ruling, Chester's team of court-appointed attorneys deprived him of his constitutional right to effective legal representation by missing key opportunities during the trial to undermine the prosecution's theory that Chester fired the gun that killed Adams.

A man named Anthony Curtis said he was driving down the street when he heard Adams' shooting and saw Ratcliff emerge from the cab. Ratcliff, who had just rummaged through the cab, tucked a gun in his waistband, Curtis said in filings presented to Morgan.

But the defense team led by attorneys Graham da Ponte and Cesar Vazquez did not call Curtis to testify about what he saw, which would likely have been favorable to Chester's defense, Morgan said.

Furthermore, the defense didn't call a blood spatter expert to challenge the state's theory that 2 drops of blood on Chester's cap proved he was the shooter. A blood spatter expert consulted during the appellate process testified that the blood on the cap actually supported Chester's claim that he was a bystander and not the triggerman, Morgan noted.

The defense team also didn't challenge the prosecution's assertion that it had used a DNA test to establish that the blood on the cap belonged to Adams. In fact, the test showed it was possible but "highly unlikely" that Adams was the source of the blood drops.

The defense team didn't call any witnesses during the trial. It called 1 witness during the sentencing phase: Darren Chester, whose testimony essentially was that his brother Teddy didn't say anything to him about a killing.

Da Ponte on Wednesday said she was pleased to learn Chester would get a new trial. Vazquez couldn't be reached Wednesday.

The team that prosecuted Chester was led by Ronald Bodenheimer, who went on to become a Jefferson Parish judge and later to serve time in federal prison following a corruption scandal at the Gretna courthouse.

Bodenheimer on Wednesday said Vazquez and da Ponte were good attorneys and that his devout Catholic faith made pursuing the death penalty against Chester a difficult task.

"My whole career, I never sought the death penalty without talking to a priest first," Bodenheimer said.

Former Judge Martha Sassone presided over Chester's trial.

(source: The Advocate)

TENNESSEE----impending execution

Death watch inmate gets new attorneys for appeal to federal courts, days before execution date

Death watch inmate Billy Ray Irick is asking the U.S. Supreme court to delay his execution and review the evidence in his murder conviction.

A new team of attorneys is claiming that Irick was severely mentally ill at the time of his offense. They argue that executing a mentally ill person is cruel and unusual punishment and violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Federal public defender Kelley J. Henry from Nashville is now representing Irick before the U. S. Supreme Court.

Irick's motion for a new attorney to argue his case in federal court was approved earlier Tuesday by a federal judge from the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee.

Unless the Supreme Court intervenes to delay his execution, Irick is scheduled to die at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison on Thursday at 7 p.m.

(source: WKRN news)

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

Former Tennessee Supreme Court justice shares history of death penalty

Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade says the decision to put someone to death is not an easy one. The state carried out 4 executions during his time in office. "I remember all 4 vividly," he said.

But upholding a death sentence does not come without moral conflict.

"I have concerns, as I think many other judges do," Judge Wade said. "And the question in their own minds is whether they can continue to be fair and impartial and impose the penalty of death even if their inner feelings suggest otherwise."

The history of capital punishment in Tennessee dates back to 1796. The 1st method of execution: by hanging. It wasn't until the 1900s when electrocution became the law of the land for death penalty cases in Tennessee.

In 1986, convicted killer and child rapist Billy Ray Irick was ordered to be put to death by this method, but it was during a period when death penalty was not administered in the state.

"At that time, there were unusual delays in the middle district of Tennessee and for whatever reason, many believe that the federal judge at that time closest to Riverbend was opposed to the death penalty," Wade said.

Tennessee resumed capital punishment in 2000, and by then, lethal injection was the new method of execution. It continues to be used today despite moral challenges.

"It's always been upheld and more recently, the opinions suggest that a little pain whether it's lethal injection or electrocution is not a basis in which to find the penalty is cruel and unusual," Wade said.

The most recent state-ordered date with death was in 2009.

"In my view, the reason for the delay has been nothing more than the lack of availability of the drug and that's become an increasing problem for states that maintain the death penalty," Wade said.

And now, if all goes as planned, Billy Ray Irick will be the 1st person in Tennessee to die by death penalty in nearly a decade, bringing justice to a high profile case after 32 years.

"It sends the message of accountability," Wade said, "that should a jury return a sentence of death, that it is likely to happen."

Irick is scheduled to be put to death Aug. 9 in Nashville at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

(source; WATE news)

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

First conservative TN Supreme Court in decades changed rule, paving way for Irick execution

A Tennessee Supreme Court with a conservative-leaning majority for the 1st time in decades took direct aim at death penalty opponents in its refusal to block convicted killer Billy Ray Irick's scheduled execution.

The high court earlier this week turned aside Irickís last-minute bid to avoid death in the 1985 rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer in Knox County via a challenge of the state Department of Correction lethal injection protocol

'Convincing drug companies'

In a footnote in a decision by a majority of Republican appointees, the high court blamed "anti-death-penalty advocates" for robbing TDOC of sources of supply for lethal injection drugs and creating legal battles as a result.

"It bears noting at this point that TDOC's revisions of its lethal injection protocol since 2010 have been necessitated by the success anti-death-penalty advocates have had in convincing drug companies not to provide certain drugs for use in executions," the panel's majority opinion stated.

Stacy Rector, executive director of the Tennesseans Against the Death Penalty advocacy group, said death penalty opponents she works with don't lobby drug makers or suppliers.

"We don't do that," she said.

Instead, Rector said, they lobby voters and policymakers.

"Our focus is education," she said. "We think the whole policy is broken and dysfunctional, and not working in Tennessee. Regardless of the method of execution, we are working to end the death penalty as a policy, period."

Ideological shift

The make-up of the state Supreme Court changed in 2015 when Democratic appointee Gary Wade stepped down as justice. That was the same year the high court enacted a rule that the now conservative-leaning majority is using to bar Irick from a reprieve.

The panel changed the rule without inviting public comment by approaching it as an amendment. The change created a legal barrier for last-minute reprieves for the condemned for matters that have nothing to do with whether they are guilty or should be executed for their crime.

The condemned now must prove they can win an appeal of their "collateral" legal argument using a "likelihood of success" standard, which mirrors current U.S. Supreme Court case law and streamlines the appellate process for the condemned in Tennessee.

"The present case is the first case presented to this Court governed by the amended version of (the rule)," the majority wrote in its denial of the stay.

"Consequently, to obtain a stay at this time, Mr. Irick must establish a likelihood of success, and he has failed to satisfy this standard."

Justice Sharon Lee was the lone dissenter in denying Irick, 59, a stay. She and Justice Cornelia A. Clark are the sole Democratic appointees on the 5-judge high court panel.

She conceded she was on the panel that approved the rule change. But she accused the majority of a "rush to execution" and pushed for a brief delay - to allow Irick to live long enough for a full appellate review of the lethal injection drug protocol he and 32 other condemned inmates are challenging as too painful to pass constitutional muster.

The majority pushed back.

"In fact, this suggestion is astonishing, actually, given that Mr. Irick was convicted and sentenced 32 years ago and has obtained multiple stays over the years," the majority wrote.

The majority opinion does not bear the name of the author and is supposed to reflect the collective opinion of the 4 justices in the majority - Chief Justice Jeffry S. Bivins and Justices Holly Kirby, Roger Page and Clark.

More powers, less precedent

The majority - with Lee often the sole dissenter - has been tilting in its decisions and rulemaking toward drawing Tennessee law into line with U.S. Supreme Court decisions and standards - even when the state's Constitution has been interpreted by liberal-leaning Tennessee Supreme Court panels as providing greater protections for the accused than its federal counterpart.

In the past 2 years, the high court has approved the limited use of a federal exception for law enforcers who make mistakes in drafting or executing search warrants, overturning the court's own decades-long precedent that afforded no such break.

The court has broadened law enforcers' authority to carry out warrantless searches and - as shown in Irick's case - raised the hurdle for the condemned trying to outrun execution.

Veteran defense attorney Stephen Ross Johnson has watched high courts tilt - in Tennessee and across the country - in recent years toward what he called a reverse federalism.

"The modern trend is for state courts to adopt federal constitutional standards in interpreting state constitutions and other legal standards," he said. "In relatively recent times, Tennessee has followed suit."

Swinging pendulum?

Johnson said when the U.S. Supreme Court decades ago began tilting in its rulings toward broader police powers and fewer protections for accused, state supreme courts and state legislatures across the country beefed up protections in their own laws.

"The pendulum has now swung the other way in Tennessee and elsewhere," he said Wednesday. '... in an effort to have uniformity of law, many state courts are reversing decades of their precedent and tacking to federal decisions.

"In my opinion, this trend is not a positive one, since it concentrates too much power in too few decision makers - namely nine judges in Washington, DC - and further removes the states from the individual laboratories of democracy they were intended to be by our nation's founders," he said.

Irick is now under death watch. He is scheduled to be executed Thursday evening in Nashville.

(source: Knoxville News Sentinel)

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

Death Penalty In Tennessee - The Cost To Us And A Solution

I am going to wade off into the deep waters of public discourse for the 1st time. Favor me with a few moments.

Billy Ray Irrick is scheduled to die by the hand of the Tennessee state government Thursday night August 9, 2018. There is much debate regarding this case on a state and national level as well as others waiting in the wings for the same fate.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this case there is more information on the 11alive website. Please, only read this if you have a strong stomach. I studied it last night. I wish I hadn't, I did not sleep well.

In reading the information, if you are so inclined, you will see enough blame to go around, poor decisions by the family of the child, less than stellar living conditions, human suffering and yes, a tragic end to the life of a very young girl. Ultimately though, Mr. Irrick is responsible as has been determined repeatedly.

For over 30 years he has dodged the reaper, now his time is 'nigh. And still there are those who fight for this person. The legal arguments in his defense have ran the gamut from 'mental incompetence', poor upbringing, drug, and alcohol addiction and finally in the world we live in today, the fear he will suffer due to an ineffective mixture of drugs to be administered to him.

While I understand the Constitution and the prohibition of 'cruel and unusual punishment' rule I do not understand the misplaced compassion for this person. Yes, he is a human, Yes, he deserves careful debate in the court of law as to his fate. But he has had all of that. And then some.

I'll not go into the old 'eye for an eye' chestnut, just too Old Testament for me. What I will say is this: he has had more than his share of 'days in court', he has been found and verified guilty time and again. His time has run out. Now he must pay.

Be that right or wrong is irrelevant to my opinion here, what matters to me, and should to you, whichever side you take is this simple thing. The relevance of the debate over the drugs used to kill him. We are not talking about a short rope and a tall tree here, but a lethal dose of drugs, some may say 'cobbled together at the whim of a power that is'. That is fair enough. Suffering at the end, whether you say, 'too bad' or 'oh no', matters not. Quite simply it doesn't have to be. And I'll tell you why.

There is a much simpler solution, readily available to us in bulk. It is so simple in fact I'm surprised others who are much smarter than me haven't thought of it. It is staring us in the face.

Fentanyl.

Each year the state of Tennessee spends several millions of dollars combating this drug, every year people die from it, each month it is seized in quantity, not only in this state but others. It is everywhere. Each year some tens of thousands of people die nationwide from it. It is deadly, it has a proven track record.

It works.

So, put it to use.

Instead of the last-minute arguments over this drug mixture or that. Just choose the obvious substance that has been proven beyond a doubt to absolutely, without fail, work every time. It's just that easy. There has been an abundance of it seized. It will be burned or disposed of somehow, so use it.

We are spending money hand over fist on interdiction, seizure, prosecution, and Narcan. It's time we finally found a way to save money on both execution drugs and lawsuits. I can't see anyone saying, 'It may not be effective!'. It is. It's time.

Stop wasting money and use the best tool available.

Russ Donegan

(source: Opinion, The Chattanoogan)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

Drugmaker seeks to block Nebraska from using execution drugs

A German pharmaceutical company has filed a lawsuit to prevent Nebraska from using lethal injection drugs next week in what would be the state's 1st execution in more than 2 decades.

The federal lawsuit filed late Tuesday could delay the Aug. 14 execution of Carey Dean Moore, who was sentenced to death for killing 2 Omaha cab drivers in 1979. The company, Fresenius Kabi, opposes the use of its drugs in executions and alleges that the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services' supply of potassium chloride was made by the company.

Moore has stopped fighting the state's efforts to execute him , leaving death penalty opponents with no real options other than to hope a drug manufacturer challenged the state's use of its products. In Nevada, a judge indefinitely postponed an execution last month after drugmaker Alvogen filed a similar lawsuit over one of its products.

Nebraska state officials have refused to identify the source of their drugs, but Fresenius Kabi alleges the state's supply of the drug is stored in 30 milliliter vials. Fresenius Kabi said it's the only company that supplies potassium chloride in vials that size. The company said it may also have manufactured the state's supply of cisatracurium, and that Nebraska's use of its drugs would damage its reputation and business relationships.

"While Fresenius Kabi takes no position on capital punishment, Fresenius Kabi opposes the use of its products for this purpose and therefore does not sell certain drugs to correctional facilities," company attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

The company said it only sells those products to wholesalers and distributors who sign a contract agreeing not to supply the drugs to correctional departments.

"These drugs, if manufactured by Fresenius Kabi, could only have been obtained by (the corrections department) in contradiction and contravention of the distribution contracts the company has in place and therefore through improper or illegal means," the company said in the lawsuit.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said the lethal injection drugs were purchased lawfully "and pursuant to the state of Nebraska's duty to carry out lawful capital sentences."

A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nebraska has never carried out an execution by lethal injection, and the state plans to use an untried combination of four drugs during Moore's scheduled execution. The state's last execution, in 1997, used the electric chair, which the Nebraska Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional.

Nebraska's current execution protocol calls for 4 drugs: the sedative diazepam, commonly known as Valium, to render the inmate unconscious; fentanyl citrate, a powerful synthetic opioid; cisatracurium besylate, which induces paralysis and halts the inmate's breathing; and potassium chloride to stop the heart.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, a leading death penalty opponent, praised the company's intervention and chastised the state for refusing to release documents identifying the supplier. State officials have done so in the past without objection.

"While more states are turning away from the death penalty, Nebraska officials are rushing to carry out an execution cloaked in secrecy with an untested 4-drug scheme that carries immeasurable risks for unnecessary pain and a botched execution," said Danielle Conrad, the group's executive director.

The lawsuit is not Nebraska's 1st run-in with Fresenius Kabi. Last year, a company spokesman told The Associated Press that state officials had obtained a batch of its potassium chloride in 2015 because one of its distributors made a mistake.

A company spokesman said at the time that Fresenius Kabi discovered the sale through an internal audit and requested that the Department of Correctional Services return the drugs, but state officials never did. Those drugs expired in January 2017.

(source: Associated Press)

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

Ex-public defender: Nebraska death row inmate's sentencing may have been unconstitutional

Former public defender Robert Dunham thinks the sentencing of Nebraska's longest-serving death row inmate, Carey Dean Moore, may not have been legal.

Dunham, who is the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says Nebraska's death penalty system is not like those in some states - judges rather than juries decide whether a defendant should be sentenced to die - and that could raise grounds for a constitutional challenge.

"In Nebraska, the sentencing is done by a 3-judge panel and the United States Supreme Court has ruled that a defendant in a death penalty case has a constitutional right to have a jury determine the facts that make him eligible for the death penalty, and that didn't happen in his case," Dunham told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising."

Dunham is referring to the 2002 case Ring v. Arizona.

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona's capital sentencing procedure violated the Sixth Amendment's jury trial guarantee by entrusting a judge to find the factors necessary for imposing the death penalty.

But since Moore has not authorized his lawyers to attack this particular aspect of the state's system, Dunham said, "it's probable that he was unconditionally sentenced to death."

Moore has tried to challenge his death row sentence on multiple occasions, and also tried to escape death row by attempting to swap clothes with his then-incarcerated twin brother.

But the 60-year-old inmate has since accepted his punishment and has made it clear to his lawyers that he doesn't want to fight his scheduled execution on August 14.

Moore was sentenced to death for the murder of two Omaha cab drivers in 1979. If the state follows through, it would mark the state's f1st execution in more than 2 decades.

Nebraska, like many states, has been struggling with the financial and moral obligations of the death penalty for some time. The Nebraska Legislator overrode Gov. Pete Rickettsís (R) veto and repealed the death penalty in 2015. But it was reinstated a year later after Ricketts personally bankrolled a referendum to bring it back.

(source: thehill.com)

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

Ricketts: State will move forward with execution

Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday said he expects the state's Department of Corrections will carry out the execution of Nebraska's longest serving death row inmate on schedule next week.

"I'm not aware of anything that will delay the execution," Ricketts said Wednesday after acknowledging a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a pharmaceutical company seeking to prevent Nebraska from using its drugs as part of a lethal injection.

"Our plan is to continue to move forward," Ricketts added.

Carey Dean Moore, sentenced to death for the 1979 slayings of Omaha cab drivers Reuel Van Ness Jr. and Maynard Helgeland, would be the 1st Nebraska inmate to be executed since 1997.

Last week, Pope Francis changed the Catholic Church's stance on capital punishment, calling it "inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person."

Protesters gathered outside of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha, where Ricketts is a parishioner, on Sunday, 12 days before Moore's scheduled execution date of Aug. 14.

Ricketts said he wasn't bothered by the protests or the communication appealing to his faith, saying he swore an oath to uphold the constitution and laws of the Nebraska.

He also said he doesn't have any control over the decisions made by the church or its officials, but that his "conscience is that we need to have capital punishment in this state."

"There's a number of people expressing their difference of opinion with regard to this, but the people of Nebraska have been very clear," the governor said.

A statewide referendum in 2016, funded in part by $300,000 of the governor's personal money, reinstated the death penalty in Nebraska a year after the Legislature had abolished it over a veto from Ricketts.

The repeal of the death penalty was rejected by a 61 to 39 percent margin, which Ricketts called "absolute proof" of the state's will to protect citizens, law enforcement and corrections officers and even other inmates.

"The people of Nebraska spoke loud and clear that they wanted to retain capital punishment as part of our overall state laws to protect public safety," Ricketts said. "Our job is to carry that out."

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)

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

Son of Carey Dean Moore victim speaks ahead of scheduled execution

Steve Helgeland was 13 years-old when he was pulled out of his junior high classroom and told his father had been murdered.

His father, Maynard Helgeland, was 1 of the 2 taxi cab drivers murdered by Carey Dean Moore in August of 1979.

Steve Helgeland remembers arriving in Omaha and learning the news.

"One thing I recall vividly is the gurney with my dad's body on the news as they wheeled it away," Helgeland said.

Helgeland says his father, an Air Force veteran, struggled for years with alcoholism and depression.

At one point, he lost both his feet to frostbite after drunkenly passing out in his cab.

But Helgeland says his father was starting to turn his life around when he was shot several times by Moore who allegedly was looking for drug money.

"It was just a straight up act of evil," Helgeland said.

Nearly 4 decades have passed since, along with seven scheduled executions for Moore which have failed to materialize.

Those years have been frustrating for Helgeland and his family.

He says it's "ridiculous" that the state hasn't taken action in the case.

Moore faces execution once again on Tuesday, but Helgeland thinks the result will be the same as it's always been.

"I just don't have any faith in the state of Nebraska for making it happen," he said. "They haven't been able to do it in 38 years."

Helgeland says time hasn't healed the pain of his father's murder.

He says he's angry and that he just wants that horrific chapter of his life to finally be over, whether that be by Moore's execution or a decision to keep him imprisoned for life.

Helgeland will be in Lincoln the day of Moore's execution, but says he doesn't want to watch it.

"I don't have any interest in watching another human being die," he said. "It won't provide me with any... closure as people like to say."

(source: KLKN TV news)

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

German drug maker claims US state illegally obtained its product for execution

German drug maker Fresenius Kabi is suing to halt a planned execution in Nebraska, claiming the US state illegally obtained the company's drugs to use for the lethal injection procedure.

Fresenius Kabi filed the lawsuit Tuesday evening, saying the state was planning to use two of its drugs on August 14th to put to death convicted killer Carey Dean Moore.

Moore is sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of 2 taxi drivers. He is not contesting his execution order, but it could nevertheless be delayed by the lawsuit.

If carried out, the execution would be Nebraska's 1st in 21 years and its 1st ever lethal injection.

The state plans to use 4 drugs - the sedative Diazepam, the powerful narcotic painkiller fentanyl citrate, the muscle relaxer cisatracurium and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Fresenius Kabi believes it is the source of the latter 2 drugs and is asking a federal judge to issue an order either temporarily or permanently blocking the state from using the injectable medications.

"While Fresenius Kabi takes no position on capital punishment, Fresenius Kabi opposes the use of its products for this purpose and therefore does not sell certain drugs to correctional facilities," the company said in its civil complaint.

"These drugs, if manufactured by Fresenius Kabi, could only have been obtained by defendants in contradiction and contravention of the distribution contracts the company has in place and therefore through improper or illegal means."

The drug maker claims that with state executions regarded negatively among the majority of the European public, it could suffer "great reputational injury," if its drugs are used for capital punishment.

The state of Nebraska has released limited information about the drugs and has not disclosed their source -- reflecting a general dilemma for US states that continue to carry out the death penalty via lethal injection.

Injectable drugs have become harder to acquire amid public opposition and a reluctance -- or outright hostility - among drug manufacturers to sell their products to prisons for use in executions.

"Nebraska's lethal injection drugs were purchased lawfully and pursuant to the State of Nebraska's duty to carry out lawful capital sentences," the state attorney general's office said in a curt statement.

Last month, a similar lawsuit by drug maker Alvogen at least temporarily halted an execution in Nevada.

(source: thelocal.de)

SOUTH DAKOTA----new execution date

Rodney Berget to be executed this fall for killing prison guard R.J. Johnson

Rodney Berget, 1 of 2 men convicted of murdering a South Dakota State Penitentiary guard in 2011, is scheduled to be put to death this fall.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said Berget is slated to face execution by lethal injection during the week of Oct. 28-Nov. 3, 2018. The exact date and time will be announced by the penitentiary warden 48 hours before the execution.

Berget, 55, pleaded guilty in 2012 to killing Ronald "R.J." Johnson in a failed prison escape attempt in 2011 with fellow inmate Eric Robert. Berget was scheduled to face execution in 2015, but his execution was stayed.

Robert was executed in 2012.

A 3rd inmate, Michael Nordman, was sentenced to life in prison for providing plastic wrap and a pipe used to kill Johnson.

Berget's mental status and eligibility for capital punishment have played a central role in delaying the court process. Berget in August 2016 appealed his death penalty sentence, but in September 2016 asked to withdraw his appeal.

"I want this to be the last day I appear in court," Berget said in court in September 2016.

Berget's attorney, Eric Schulte, disagreed with his client's decision to drop the appeal. Schulte told the court he wanted to review Berget's functionality and mental capacity to see if he was eligible for the death penalty.

Berget in 2017 sent a letter to the court saying he wants his death sentence to be carried out because he was worried the death penalty will be repealed in South Dakota, and he didn't want to spend the rest of his life "in a cage."

A judge ruled in February that Berget does not have an intellectual disability and is eligible for his original death penalty sentence.

Delays are still a possibility in the case: issues or questions could be filed - either from Berget's attorneys or questions from the Governor's Office, state or federal judges - between now and October.

Jackley said he is confident in the timing of the warrant of execution. There are no pending actions in the case, and the conviction and sentence have been deemed appropriate by the trial judge, state Supreme Court and habeas court.

Jackley, who also prosecuted Robert's case and witnessed Robert's execution, has been in communication with Johnson's family throughout the process and consulted with them before issuing the warrant of execution.

"I've seen firsthand the struggles and challenges RJ Johnson's family - wife, children and grandchildren - have gone through," Jackley said Wednesday. "It's important to continue to move this case forward to help bring some level of closure for RJ Johnson's family."

At a February hearing in Minnehaha County, Lynette Johnson, RJ Johnson's widow, shared the anguish over her family's ordeal.

"It has been an emotional, torturous roller coaster," she said at the hearing. "We just try to get through it the best that we know how."

(source: Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

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

South Dakota sets execution for man in prison guard's death

A man who pleaded guilty to the 2011 killing of a South Dakota prison guard is set to be executed in the fall, the state's attorney general said Wednesday.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement that Rodney Berget, 56, is scheduled to be executed between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3. Jackley's office said the warden of the state penitentiary will choose the specific time and date, which will be announced within 48 hours of the execution.

Circuit Court Judge Bradley Zell issued a warrant of execution for Berget, who would be the 1st person put to death in South Dakota in roughly 6 years.

"We will be ready to carry out the order of the court," Department of Corrections Secretary Denny Kaemingk said in a statement.

Berget pleaded guilty in April 2012 to killing Ronald "R.J." Johnson in a failed prison escape attempt in April 2011 along with fellow inmate Eric Robert, who was executed in 2012.

An attorney for Berget wasn't immediately available to comment to The Associated Press. Berget's mental status and death penalty eligibility have played a key role in court delays.

Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw the appeal against the advice of his lawyers, the Argus Leader reported .

"I want this to be the last day I appear in court," Berget said at a September 2016 hearing.

The last execution in South Dakota was the lethal injection of Donald Moeller on Oct. 30, 2012, for the killing of Becky O'Connell.

State Department of Corrections policy says lethal injections involve 1 to 3 drugs, depending on drug availability and the date of the prisoner's conviction. State law makes a drug supplier confidential.

(source: Associated Press)

UTAH:

Funds authorized for defense of Ogden couple in death penalty case

Weber County commissioners have agreed to continue covering the cost of public defenders for 2 Ogden parents charged with murdering their toddler in a potential death penalty case.

The county's 3-member commission unanimously approved new contracts for the attorneys at its Tuesday meeting, but not without some reluctance.

"This is frustrating," said Commissioner Jim Harvey. "People in the community make horrible decisions each county taxpayer, their property tax, has to pay for, because of state code. That bothers me."

A judge early in the case decided Brenda Emile, 23, and Miller Costello, 26, could not afford to hire lawyers and appointed them public defenders. State law requires the county to foot the bill.

But Weber's existing contracts with defense attorneys do not cover death penalty cases, because of the vast amounts of time and work they can take, so a new deal was needed, deputy Weber County attorney Bryan Baron told the board.

The contracts provided by the county show a lead attorney for each parent will receive $170 per hour, and a second attorney will make $140 an hour. Attorney fees for each defendant are capped at $100,000, or $70,000 if prosecutors decide before a trial to no longer pursue a death penalty.

Baron said the total cost of the case is a "shot in the dark." But he reviewed the cost of defense in nine other capital cases in Utah and found they cost an average of $220,000 apiece, he said.

Weber County officials previously decided not to contribute to a statewide defense fund that helps local government covers such costs because of the price tag, Baron said Tuesday, but he didn't know the exact fee.

The new contracts will help inform the commission's decision when it next considers whether to buy into a state indigent defense fund, but no immediate decision has been made, Harvey said Wednesday.

Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty if the couple accused of beating, burning and not feeding their daughter Angelina is convicted of a charge of aggravated murder, a 1st-degree felony. The pair has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court in Ogden Aug. 13.

(source: Deseret News)

NEVADA:

Nevada death-row inmate: 'Just get it done'

A Nevada death-row inmate whose execution has been postponed twice said a legal fight over his fate is taking a tortuous toll on him and his family and he just wants his sentence carried out.

The state should "just get it done, just do it effectively and stop fighting about it," Scott Raymond Dozier told The Associated Press.

"I want to be really clear about this. This is my wish," Dozier said in a brief telephone call from Ely State Prison. "They should stop punishing me and my family for their inability to carry out the execution."

Dozier's comments Wednesday came a month after a judge in Las Vegas postponed his execution at nearly the final hour.

Nevada law calls for capital punishment by lethal injection. But pharmaceutical companies nationwide have objected to their medicines being used in executions.

On Thursday, a 3rd drug company is due to ask Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez to let it join with 2 other firms suing to block the use of their products for a 3-drug lethal injection.

State Attorney General Adam Laxalt's office is expected to ask Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez on Thursday to reject the Sandoz Inc. bid to join case.

State Deputy Solicitor General Jordan T. Smith has argued that the maker of a muscle paralytic agent that officials plan to use as the 3rd drug didn't object before Dozier's execution was postponed in November and is now jumping on a public relations wave with drugmakers Alvogen and Hikma Pharmaceuticals.

Gonzalez last week allowed Hikma, a maker of the powerful opioid fentanyl, to join Alvogen, producer of the sedative midazolam, in a lawsuit on a speedy track toward a Sept. 10 hearing.

The companies say they publicly declared they didn't want their products used in executions and allege that Nevada improperly obtained their drugs.

Nevada, which hasn't executed an inmate since 2006, has become a model of the trouble that death penalty states have had in recent years obtaining drugs for lethal injections.

Prison officials want to reschedule Dozier's execution for mid-November, and are asking the Nevada Supreme Court to quickly consider and overturn Gonzalez's temporary order not to use midazolam.

15 states are siding with Nevada before the state Supreme Court in a battle pitting prominent pharmaceutical firms against more than 1/2 the 31 states in the U.S. with the death penalty.

Dozier, 47, called the fight over his fate a legal "maelstrom."

He said he wants to go through with his lethal injection and he really doesn't care if he feels pain. Critics have said he's seeking state-assisted suicide.

"I don't even really want to die," Dozier said, "but I'd rather die than spend my life in prison."

The inmate said he was not contesting his convictions and sentences. But he also denied committing the 2002 drug-related murders in Phoenix and Las Vegas for which he was convicted and sentenced in 2007 to death.

"For the record, I'm asserting my innocence," Dozier said. But, "I'm not going to be the guy in prison who is going to complain, 'This is an injustice.' That's over. I had my chance."

(source: ajc.com)

USA:

Allowing death penalty is Catholic doctrine and cannot be overturned: 2 Catholic profs

2 U.S. Catholic professors who authored what many consider to be a rigorous defense of Catholic teaching on capital punishment say that Pope Francis' new teaching on the subject appears to be "contradicting scripture, tradition, and all previous popes." And, he may be "committing a doctrinal error."

It's been a busy week for Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette, joint authors of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment. Published by Ignatius Press in May 2017, the work is a comprehensive guide to the teaching of the Catholic Church on the death penalty. Thanks to Pope Francis' surprise alteration to the Catechism of the Catholic Church last week, both men are now in the spotlight.

Feser, an assistant professor of philosophy at Pasadena City College, told LifeSiteNews that the new teaching, "like many of Pope Francis's doctrinal statements, is obscure."

"On the one hand, the CDF letter announcing the change asserts that the new teaching 'is not in contradiction' with previous teaching. On the other hand, the pope is saying that the death penalty should never be used -- which goes beyond John Paul II's teaching that it should be 'very rare' -- and Francis justifies this claim on doctrinal grounds, rather than the prudential grounds that John Paul appealed to," he said.

"Moreover, Pope Francis claims that the use of capital punishment conflicts with 'the inviolability and dignity of the person,' which makes it sound like it is intrinsically contrary to natural law. So, the actual substance of the teaching seems to be that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong. If that is what the pope is saying, then he is contradicting scripture, tradition, and all previous popes, and is therefore committing a doctrinal error, which is possible when popes do not speak ex-cathedra [from the chair]," he added.

To believe that the Church can contradict its doctrines, whether concerning artificial contraception or capital punishment or other moral teachings, is "not compatible with what the Church says about herself."

'We are defending the integrity of the Church'

Feser said that when their book came out, he and Joseph Bessette received a torrent of personal attacks, criticism he calls "childish nonsense."

"We are defending the integrity of the Church," he said.

Feser pointed out that many defenders of the Church's perennial doctrine, like the late Cardinal Avery Dulles and Cardinal Charles J. Chaput, are themselves personally opposed to the death penalty. Nevertheless, they do not deny the teaching.

"I't's so odd that so many people want to make it personal," the philosopher said. "Just look at the arguments."

Feser sees Pope Francis's change to the catechism as highly problematic.

"As in other instances in the past 5 years, ambiguity is a factor," he said. "But I think it is worse than that."

He notes that Cardinal Ladaria presented an introductory letter stating that Francis's change is "not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium' but not explaining how it isn't a rupture. And if it is true that capital punishment is inadmissible because it is "an attack on dignity", then it follows, Feser said, that the Law of Moses was "an attack on dignity" and that Pope John Paul II's assertion that capital punishment was legitimate in rare circumstances was an "attack on dignity."

In Pope Francis's defense, the philosopher said that it was possible that the pontiff was just not interested in doctrine. Feser was unsure this was a defense, however, as "safeguard of doctrine is the pope's job." However, given remarks Pope Francis made last October, when he said that capital punishment was "per se contrary to the Gospel", the change to the catechism is "less bad than what it looked like we were getting", Feser believes, as this earlier formulation made it sound as if capital punishment were "intrinsically evil."

In terms of a truly authentic development on Church doctrine on capital punishment, Feser argues Pope John Paul II took it as far as he could take it, and moreover that he didn't take it as far as people think. Although many people believe JP2 restricted it to only to prevent the direct endangerment of the innocent, "if you actually read [Evangelium Vitae], it's not really there," the philosopher said. The perennial doctrine of the Church is that capital punishment is legitimate also as a deterrent and as retributive justice.

"The only thing that can be done is recommending against [the death penalty] in practice," Feser said. The principle, however, must remain.

He underscored that these are not just his "assertions."

"We analyse this in painstaking fashion in our book," Feser said and voiced some frustration with how little his and Bessette's critics are willing to engage with their arguments. They are not only unable to grasp the evidence, not only that the Church has never decreed that capital punishment is intrinsically evil, but that many social scientists do believe it has a deterrent value. Feser said that it was "rash" and "irresponsible" for Churchmen with no sociological expertise to "throw out bromides" about human dignity. If the death penalty is a deterrent, then those who wish to abolish it are "risking the lives of the innocent."

'Pro-life' is not a 'magic theological bullet'

Impatient of sentimentality and anti-intellectualism, Feser is similarly dismissive of those who say that people who are against abortion but support the death penalty aren't really pro-life.

"'Pro-life' is a modern American political slogan," Feser declared. "It has no philosophical or theological content at all."

The word is not a "magic theological bullet," he stressed. He pointed out that one could just as easily tell someone that they aren't "pro-freedom" because they support the incarceration of people guilty of crimes. Scripture is very clear that one can lose the right to life through murder; there is a difference between protecting the right to life of the innocent and that of the guilty, just as there is a difference between unjustly depriving the innocent of their freedom and justly locking up the guilty in prison.

Feser was raised a Catholic, but his philosophical studies gradually led to atheism. However, the history of philosophy, ancient and medieval, brought him back to the faith.

The philosopher's interest in the death penalty was prompted by Pope John Paul II. Feser had supported the use of capital punishment, both as an atheist and as a Catholic, but he noticed that John Paul II's personal opposition was changing people's perceptions of what the Church actually taught.

"I saw people being pushed to an extreme [abolitionist] position," Feser said.

He was troubled by what he saw as "an attack on the rationality and consistency" of the Catholic Church, when it was that very rationality and consistency that he admired. He had previously been looking for "wiggle-room" on the teaching against artificial contraception, but had been impressed that Paul VI had affirmed the teaching "when the whole world was against him."

"I was impressed by the sheer intransigence," he chuckled.

Feser's co-author Joseph Bessette, a professor of government and ethics at Claremont McKenna College in California, told LifeSiteNews via email that he first became interested in capital punishment while growing up in Massachusetts, where it was a "hotly debated topic" in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Later, in the early 1980s I worked in the prosecutor's office in Chicago. That's where I first learned from prosecutors of the gruesome details of the relatively few murders that resulted in a death sentence," Bessette recalled.

When he began to teach a course on "Crime and Public Policy" in the early 1990s, Bessette devoted three weeks to the death penalty, but didn't pay close attention to Church doctrines on the topic, as he knew the Church had "always taught that the death penalty could be a legitimate punishment for heinous crimes if necessary to secure public safety."

But a student's remark inspired him to take another look.

"One day a student in my course said, 'Well, I am a Catholic. So I am against the death penalty.' I affirmed the Church's traditional teaching and then sought to learn more about the Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae (1995) and the revision in the language in the Catechism between 1992 and 1997."

'The simple fact is that the death penalty saves lives'

Bessette believes that in revising the Catechism to state the death penalty is "inadmissible", Pope Francis has attempted to "overturned" 2 millennia of Church teaching.

"Moreover, by strongly implying that Catholics must support the abolition of the death penalty, he has allied the Church with a public policy that would undermine just punishment and cost the lives of innocent human beings," he asserted. "The simple fact is that the death penalty saves lives."

Bessette says that he and Feser present a "large body of evidence" in their book to support this conclusion.

"Unfortunately, Pope Francis and many Catholic clerics simply presume that public safety would not be jeopardized if capital punishment were abolished," he continued.

He said he did not expect Catholic priests "no matter what their rank" to be experts in criminal justice, and that unless a public policy is intrinsically evil, it is up to citizens and government "to decide how best to promote the common good."

"This is what the Church has always taught," Bessette stressed. "By falsely claiming that the principles of Catholicism call for rejecting the death penalty in all circumstances, the pope undermines the authority of the Magisterium, preempts the proper authority of public officials, and jeopardizes public safety and the common good."

In defense of those who seek to protect the unborn while supporting capital punishment, Bessette said there was no contradiction.

"There is absolutely no inconsistency between being pro-life and pro-death penalty," he said. "The Church has always taught that it is never licit to take an innocent human life."

Bessette cited John Paul II, saying the pope affirmed this principle unambiguously in Evangelium Vitae.

The late pontiff wrote: "[T]he commandment 'You shall not kill' has absolute value when it refers to the innocent person. . . . [T]he absolute inviolability of innocent human life is a moral truth clearly taught by Sacred Scripture, constantly upheld in the Church's Tradition and consistently proposed by her Magisterium... Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral (EV 57)"

"Similarly," Bessette added, "the current Catechism says, 'The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation' ([CCCC] 2273)."

"Killing in self-defense or killing a vicious murderer has absolutely no relationship to this prohibition of intentionally killing the innocent, and the Church has always understood and taught this."

(source: lifesitenews.com)

JAPAN:

The Aum Shinrikyo Executions and a Society in Denial----On July 6, former Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Asahara Shoko (Matsumoto Chizuo) was put to death, along with 6 of his senior followers. Executions of the remaining 6 death row prisoners in the case followed on July 26. Asahara never spoke during his trial, and now that he is dead the possibility of ever learning what motivated the cult's attack on the Tokyo subway has gone with him.

On the morning of July 6, Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Asahara Shoko (originally named Matsumoto Chizuo), who was sentenced to death for his part in a series of deadly crimes including the sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway in 1995, finally went to the gallows. 6 other senior figures in the cult were executed the same day.

The Ministry of Justice does not normally go out of its way to disclose details of executions, but on this day the ministry released the names of the executed prisoners to the press almost in real time. It was an exceptional case.

Why did the ministry depart from its usual modus operandi and allow the executions to become a public drama in this way? One popular explanation is that the ministry was acting on instructions from the prime minister's office. Whether this theory is true or not, I can't say. But if the theory is correct, as many people in the media insist, then the implications are clear. The prime minister or those around him must have decided that giving the go-ahead for a mass execution of those responsible for the Aum attack would help to bolster the prime minister's wilting public support. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the real reason why the government cooperated with the media to ensure maximum coverage.

No group in postwar Japanese history has been so reviled as the Aum Shinrikyo cult. The group represents Japan's first true "public enemy." As the cult's leader and guru, Asahara was so despised that even people normally in favor of abolishing the death penalty made an exception in his case. Asahara was widely seen as a "singularity"- an embodiment of evil so bereft of any normal sense of humanity that putting him to death was the only sensible solution.

And then, on July 26, just as I was finishing an earlier version of this article about the executions, another 6 members of the cult went to their deaths.

Interviews with the Condemned

Of the 12 cult members who were recently executed, I conducted interviews with 6 during the course of their incarceration: Niimi Tomomitsu, Hayakawa Kiyohide, and Nakagawa Tomomasa (who were executed along with Asahara on July 6), as well as Hayashi Yasuo, Okazaki Kazuaki, and Hirose Ken'ichi, whose death sentences were carried out on July 26.

The media often depicted Niimi as the most vicious of the cultists, but whenever I met him he always bowed politely and never spoke badly of anyone. Every now and then, the corners of his mouth would curl into an attractive smile. Hayakawa, the oldest of the former Aum believers on death row, had a real sweet tooth. I would always bring him sweets and candies when I went to interview him, and he used to jokingly blame me for making him fat: "Thanks to you, Mori, I've really put on weight," he once wrote in a letter to me.

As Asahara's personal doctor, Nakagawa probably spent more time at the guru's side than anyone else. He was a painstaking, precise man - as well as being the personification of gentleness and kindness. I took my wife with me to visit him once, because I genuinely thought he was someone she should meet. Nakagawa beamed with happiness when I introduced my wife and kept bowing politely from the other side of the thick acrylic panels that separated us.

The media used to call Hayashi a "killing machine." Perhaps because we were roughly the same age, we soon fell into talking to each other casually, without the distance of formal language. I once visited him in prison with his mother. She and I sat together during the visit, and when his mother started to tear up, Hayashi tried desperately to console her. Okazaki was very much an ordinary, down-to-earth character. He used to send me stacks of sumie ink wash paintings he had done in prison. Hirose spent his time in detention making mathematics reference books for schoolchildren. He was a serious, sober type of person with little time for joking around. He told me that during the attack on the subway, he kept constantly reminding himself that what he and his fellow believers were doing was for the sake of the salvation of the world.

But now, none of these people are alive. They have vanished from the world. They all told me separately they thought they deserved to die for the crime they had committed. Sometimes they fought back tears when they spoke of what they had done. Talking to them made it harder for me to know what to feel about the crime and those who had been responsible for it.

Individually, they were all kind individuals: gentle, peaceful, and good-natured. But it was beyond any doubt that they had deliberately caused the deaths of many innocent people, and injured and traumatized many more. Often as I sat talking to them in the prison visiting room, I would become confused and uncertain of my emotions. I no longer knew what to think about crime and punishment. Was it really necessary for them to be dispatched from the world?

Of course, all of us must die someday, whether in an accident, from illness, or simply because of old age. But these men did not die for any of these reasons. They were legally killed by the state.

A Lost Chance to Understand Aum's True Motives

Right up until the death sentences of the 6 men were carried out, I visited them in prison numerous times and continued to correspond with them by letter. The perspective they gave me (the voice of the perpetrators) provided a valuable "auxiliary line" that can help us in our attempts to understand the Aum cult and its crimes.

Listening to the court proceedings during his first trial, my immediate feeling was that Asahara had suffered a mental collapse. His behavior as he sat in the defendant's seat was clearly abnormal. At the time, I wondered if he was perhaps faking an illness. But now, having met many people involved in the case and having heard their accounts, and having carried out numerous interviews myself, I am convinced that he had indeed undergone a kind of mental breakdown and was unsound during his trial.

But no one mentioned this. If anyone had said anything, the trial would have come to an end and the chance to hang the singularity that was Asahara, the very embodiment of evil, would have been lost. Anyone who'd dared to speak up would have been abused and reviled by the whole of Japan.

And so the trial went on, with Asahara slumped in his defendant's seat, often in dirty adult diapers, which he had worn since reportedly becoming incontinent in 2001. There was little doubt by this stage about why the guru's followers had carried out their crime: they had been acting on instructions from Asahara. The radical doctrines of religion, which inverted the ordinary significance of death and life, also played a part. Believing firmly in the reincarnation of the soul, and telling themselves that what they were doing was for the sake of the salvation of the world, they went out and deliberately took the lives of innocent people. But why had Asahara ordered them to act in this way?

None of the people who carried out the attack heard the orders to release sarin from Asahara directly. Murai Hideo, one of the cult's senior leaders, apparently conveyed Asahara's instructions to devotees, but he was stabbed to death around a month after the attack. Inoue Yoshihiro testified that he had conspired with Asahara to release the nerve agent to ward off an impending criminal investigation into the cult, but he later retracted his testimony. Why did the cult members release sarin into the Tokyo subway that day? The only person who could tell the truth about the real motive was Asahara himself.

But in a state of mental collapse Asahara said nothing. He was in no state to spill the truth about his motives even if he'd wanted to. As a consequence, the motives behind the attack are still not known. The motive is the most important piece of evidence for understanding any crime. Without a true understanding of what happened, our anxiety and concern for the future will only increase.

(source: Mori Tatsuya, nippon.com)

UNITED KINGDOM:

Bodies in Birmingham exhibition could be executed Chinese prisoners, says doctor----Real Bodies show at NEC leads to call for an investigation into exhibits' identities

The bodies of 20 Chinese people featured in a UK museum exhibition could be those of prisoners once detained in labour camps, and victims of the death penalty in China, according to a leading doctor.

The Real Bodies exhibition, currently at the Birmingham NEC, publicly displays the skinless preserved bodies. But there are now calls for an investigation into their identities and cause of death to be held while they are in the UK.

The bodies were provided to the event organisers, Imagine Exhibitions, through the Dalian Medical University in China.

Campaigner Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist at City Hospital Birmingham, said that the university's facilities in the city of Dalian were within driving distance of labour and prison camps. Coupled with the large number of bodies of the same age and gender, and the lack of any identity information, Nicholl suspects the bodies could be those of executed inmates.

"I have huge questions about why all these unclaimed bodies come from Dalian in sizeable numbers and how many bodies Imagine Exhibitions have actually got," he said. "My own registrar went to this exhibition. I asked him to note down the gender and age of the bodies. They are all young men - none of them are elderly, which I have to say is pretty suspicious given that there are a number of labour camps within a matter of hours' drive of Dalian.

"If you look at these exhibitions they are never gender balanced - it's always largely men. Most people who die, die when they're older, so to have an exhibition like this is really suspicious."

Nicholl says event organisers were never given consent by individuals or their families for the bodies to be used. "I think the public are being conned," he said. "Why are we having exhibitions like this in this country if they can't prove consent?" Israel banned the exhibition in 2012 in a decision taken by judges in the Israeli Supreme Court, said Nicholl.

US investigative reporter and author Ethan Gutmann also alleges that the bodies in the exhibition could be political prisoners who practiced Falun Gong, a religion banned in China in the late 90s. This move is thought to have resulted in thousands of people being imprisoned and executed in labour camps.

Gutmann believes that one of the places bodies of persecuted people may have been taken to was Dalian Medical University, as it is in the same province as Masanjia labour camp, one of the largest camps in China "specialising in Falun Gong".

"It's a crime against humanity," he said. "Several hundred thousand people were executed purely for being Falun Gong and you have a company which is potentially sending evidence all over the world."

Nicholl and Guttman are among the doctors, human rights activists, MPs and Lords who have signed a letter to Theresa May stating that the exhibition should be shut down.

Guttman says he hopes the specimens will be DNA tested. "The DNA can be extracted and used to prove relations," he said. "If we make some matches, we can identify family lines and you could ask them, do you have a missing person?

"People in England have a right to know what they are seeing and people in China have a right to know what happened to their loved ones." The Dalian Medical University released a statement in response saying: "All of these specimens are unclaimed bodies and are legally authorised to be received by the city morgue.

"The specimens that are being presented in Real Bodies: The Exhibition were originally received from the city morgue and then transferred to medical universities in China and ultimately were legally donated to Dalian Hoffen Bio-Technique Laboratory for preservation, dissection and exhibition."

The statement rejected allegations that the specimens died of unnatural causes, detailing that following inspection "there is absolutely no evidence" that they "received trauma or physical abuse associated with torture, execution or other violent injury".

The president of Imagine Exhibitions, Tom Zaller, called the suspicions about the bodies "fake news".

"I refuse to entertain these ridiculous accusations without a shred of evidence to back these baseless claims," he said.

The exhibition includes more than 200 human organs, foetuses and body parts, also sourced from China, and has already been viewed by millions around the world.

(source: The Guardian)

YEMEN----executions

3 men have been publicly shot and hanged after they were found guilty of raping and killing a 10-year-old boy.

The paedophiles were executed yesterday in the country's capital Sana'a where their bodies were put on display to discourage others from carrying out similar attacks.

Before their deaths Abdul Jalil al-Ashhab, 19, Mohammed Said al-'Uqri, 27, and Ghaleb al-Rashdi, also 19, were handcuffed and paraded in front of the crowds before being ordered to lie down.

They were then executed with 3 shots aiming for the heart, before being winched into the air as a warning to other potential offenders.

According to media in the Middle East, the 3 men kidnapped the young boy as he headed to his grandmother's house in the village of Na'wa on October 29.

The trio covered the child's mouth with a cloth and took him to a nearby school, where they carried out their horrific crimes.

After torturing and raping the boy, they choked him to death and hid his body in an abandoned house.

The men were executed by a firing squad on August 8.

Yemen, south of Saudi Arabia, still strongly enforces capital punishment for violent cases such as murder, rape, and terrorism.

The country has one of the world's highest rates of execution per capita.

In theory, the death penalty can also be used in cases of Islamic of 'Hudud' offences under Sharia law such as adultery, sexual misconduct, sodomy, prostitution, blasphemy and apostasy.

Around 50 countries in the world still carry the death penalty, including China, Japan, Pakistan and Thailand.

While the United States is the only country in the G7 to practice it.

A whopping 31 states still carry capital punishment, although only 10 of them have executed anyone in the last 5 years.

(source: metro.co.uk)

IRAN----executions

Prisoner Hanged in Bandar Abbas

A prisoner was hanged at Bandar Abbas Central Prison on murder charges.

According to a close source, on the morning of Tuesday, August 7, a prisoner was hanged at Bandar Abbas Central Prison. The prisoner, sentenced to death on murder charges, was arrested in July 2014.

The prisoner was identified as Amir Ali Kalivand, 46, from Lorestan. He was transferred to Bandar Abbas Prison from Hajiabad (a city in Hormozgan province) Prison.

A close source told IHR about his case, "Amir Ali Kalivand was also charged with five kilograms of methamphetamine but he was executed on the charge of murdering a minibus driver."

The execution of this prisoner has not been announced by the state-run media so far.

According to confirmed reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR), at least 36 people were executed in different Iranian cities in the month of July, 24 of whom were sentenced to death on murder charges.

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

4 executed on murder, rape charges

3 prisoners were executed at Minab Prison (Hormozgan province) on the charge of rape.

According to a report by Azad News Agency (ANA), on the morning of Wednesday, August 8, 3 prisoners were executed at Minab Prison.

The prisoners, whose identities have not been mentioned in the report, were sentenced to death on the charge of rape in 2016.

(source for both: Iran Human Rights)

TURKEY:

Turkey would execute Ocalan if death penalty reinstated - far-right leader

Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) armed militant group, will be executed if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signs off on a law to restore the death penalty, independent news site T24 quoted the leader of the far-right Grand Unity Party (BBP) as saying.

Erdogan last week said he would agree to restore the death penalty, which Turkey abolished in 2004, if parliament passed such a law. The move would end Turkey's decades-long bid to join the European Union.

Tens of thousands of people, mainly Kurds, have been killed in fighting between security forces and the PKK since Ocalan's group took up arms in 1984.

"Does Ocalan's connection to a terrorist organisation still continue? It does. Is he still the leader of a terrorist organisation? He is. Does he still give orders? He does. As such, if he is tried as the instructor of these acts and receives the death penalty, then he will be executed," BBP leader Mustafa Destici said.

The BBP has just 1 seat in the 600-seat parliament, but its views chime with many among the ruling party and its far-right coalition allies.

Destici previously suggested a proposal to reinstate the death penalty for offences such as murder, treason and sexual offences against children would be introduced to Turkey's parliament in October. He also suggested a referendum could be held in which the electorate could decide on the issue.

(source: ahvalnews.com)

SRI LANKA:

2 murder-convicted Army officers given death penalty

2 former Army officers have been sentenced to death by the Trincomalee High Court for assaulting and murdering an individual from Gurunagar area in Jaffna after taking him in for interrogations, says Ada Derana reporter.

Following a lengthy trial, the verdict was delivered by the High Court Judge Manikkavasagar Illancheliyan.

Accordingly, former Army Major Dickson Rajamanthree and an employee of the camp named Priyantha Rajakaruna have been sentenced to death.

On the September 10 1998, the convicts had assaulted and murdered an individual named Gnanasingham Anton Gunasekaram for by taking him in for questioning, claiming him to be a terrorist.

Reportedly, the judicial autopsy reports revealed that the deceased had suffered 21 cut wounds to the body.

The case was first taken up before the Trincomalee High Court on May 05 2009.

(source: adaderana.lk)

INDIA:

Bhopal: 31 death row convicts move upper courts

Challenging the judgement, 31 criminals awarded capital punishment in heinous crimes have moved higher courts. Out of the total cases 16 are related to rape and murder, while 15 criminals have been convicted for homicide, till June 2018.

Lower courts have sentenced death penalty to 7 persons charging them with minors' rape and murder; of these appeals of 5 convicts are pending with the Supreme Court, and 2 with the High Court. DG Jail, Sanjay Choudhary, said that highest numbers criminals on death row are serving imprisonment in Indore. A total of 13 criminals have been awarded capital punishment of which 6 have been convicted for rape and murder.

In Jabalpur Central Jail, 12 criminals have been given death sentence, of these 8 have been convicted for rape and murder, informed Choudhary while talking to Free Press. In Gwalior there are 3 convicts, 2 sentenced gallows for rape and murder, in Bhopal 2 and in Ujjain 1 is facing the doom for murder, he added.

ADG prosecution Dr Rajendra Kumar said that officers were making strong cases against the criminals to ensure justice to the victims. Indore court in April 2013 had awarded capital punishment to 3 criminals Jitendra Singh, Devendra and Ketan for kidnapping, rape and murder. Their petition was cancelled by the Supreme Court and even the mercy petition to the President of India was rejected but now they have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court which is now pending.

(source: Free Press Journal)

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Madhya Pradesh HC upholds death penalty to child rapist, says its not a soft state

Madhya Pradesh high court on Wednesday upheld death penalty awarded to a youth by a lower court in Shahdol district for rape and murder and murderer of a 4-year-old girl citing that extreme punishment would convey a message to these predators that it is not a soft state where the criminals committing such serious crimes may get reprieve in the guise of humanity.

"Humanity is more in danger in the hands of such persons. We find that there is no mitigating circumstance in favour of the appellant," division bench comprising chief justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla has ruled.

Vinod alias Rahul Chouhtha, 22, was handed over death penalty by district and Sessions judge R K Singh on February 28 this year. He had lured the young neighbourhood girl for biscuits and raped her on May 13, 2017. Her body was found behind the bushes. He had moved high court against this order.

After going through his application MPHC ruled that he had breached the trust of a girl child tempting her by offering biscuit to accompany him to meet her father.

"It is an act of extreme depravity when the appellant prompted a young child whose only fault was that she believed the appellant to be her well-wisher. The crime against the girl child are on rise, therefore, extreme punishment may deter the other criminals indulging in such crime," reads MPHC order.

This Court has the social responsibility to make the citizen of this country know that law cannot come to the rescue of such person based on humanity, they said adding "we find that the capital punishment awarded to the appellant is one of the rarest of rare cases where the extreme capital punishment is warranted".

Supreme Court had on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the growing incidents of rape in India and said that women are being raped "left, right, and centre". A 3-judge bench of Justices Madan B Lokur Deepak Gupta and K.M. Joseph hearing the suo motu petition relating to rape incidents in Muzaffarpur shelter home in Bihar quoted the NCRB data as per which, 38,947 women were raped in India, the highest being in Madhya Pradesh.

(source: timesofindia.com)

AUGUST 8, 2016:

TEXAS:

District Attorney featured in Netflix show

Bexar County District Attorney, Nico LaHood, is now featured in a Netflix Original series called, "I Am a Killer."

According to the information provided on Netflix, "Death row inmates convicted of capital murder give a firsthand account of their crimes in this documentary series."

Nico LaHood is featured in Episode 2 of Season 1.

In the summer of 1996, Nico's brother Michael LaHood Jr. was brutally shot and killed outside of their family's San Antonio home. Michael had been 25-years-old at the time.

"We call it his anniversary in heaven on August 15th," said Nico LaHood.

LaHood tells us that he still remembers the day his brother was killed.

"We walked out to it," said LaHood. "I helped load his body on the gurney after they finished the investigation. I helped my pop wash his blood off the driveway. I mean that's real."

Several people were involved in Michael's murder.

Mauriceo Brown received the death penalty in 2006. In addition, Kenneth Foster had been on death row. His death sentence was commuted in 2007, hour before his scheduled execution.

"The governor made a decision to commute the sentence," said LaHood referring to former Texas Governor Rick Perry. "I accepted it. That's his authority. He can do that. I didn't agree with that, but I accepted it. I had to move on."

Nico LaHood tells us that he's already watch the Netflix episode.

"I'm at peace now," said LaHood. "It was different to watch it, when you're looking at your own brother. You relive that night again, which I had never forgotten."

LaHood believes the Netflix episode shares a balanced perspective regarding what happened to his brother almost 22 years ago.

"They really did their due diligence on getting as much evidence as they could," said LaHood.

All 10 episodes of "I Am a Killer" are available now on Netflix.

(source: foxsanantonio.com)

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Netflix Kenneth Foster Jr. is the death row inmate featured in the second episode of Netflix's 'I Am A Killer,' for his role the murder of Michael LaHood Jr.

Kenneth Foster Jr. is a man convicted of the murder of Michael LaHood Jr., and featured in the 2nd episode of Netflix's 'I Am a Killer.' Recently, Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood has spoken out against Foster's recent testimony via Netflix. All I'm saying is, I don't believe the man is sincere," LaHood said Monday. "Everybody deserves redemption if they want it. That's the big if. They have to want it."

LaHood added, "And there is no reconciliation between anybody without truth. If I offended you, but yet I lie to you to try to make it better with you, that's not true reconciliation."

Here's what you need to know.

1. On August 14, Michael LaHood Was Murdered by Mauricio Brown, with Foster Present

"There was 4 of us that was in the car," Foster said. "I was driving...as we were driving, 1 of the occupants said, maybe we want to pull a jack move...which is basically a robbery, under the law, it's a robbery."

Foster continued, "I felt some peer pressure, and I said okay. This happened twice, and there was an unsettling feeling in me...as we were driving towards this area, there was another 2 cars that were in front of us. The 2 cars ended up turning into a residential area. Thatís where the events took a wrong turn."

At that point, the men pulled over to have a conversation with a woman who was later found out to be a stripper. 1 of the men got out of the car to approach the woman, at which point LaHood came closer to the car. Foster then points out that whatever happened next is "kind of a controversy," because the only people who really saw what happened were LaHood, Brown, and the woman.

"I did know that he had a gun," Foster said. "[But] he never said he's taking the gun, he never said 'be prepared to take off...' we really thought he was going to go for a round with the female."

2. Foster Was Given the Death Penalty Even Though He Never Fired a Single Shot

Despite the fact that Brown later testified he had acted of his own accord, the jury later convicted both Foster and Brown of capital murder, and Foster of being the conspirator to the act, as the driver. Foster was convicted under the Texas Law of Parties, which stipulates that anybody who is 'party' to a law can be held responsible for it.

"I can honestly say that you don't know death row until you're there," Foster said. "Every day, when you're there, and every year, there was executions mounting up. Some of these guys became my friends."

"It's a traumatic process," Foster said.

Brown was executed in 2006 via a lethal injection. Foster was eventually spared.

3. Foster Was Commuted of the Death Penalty 6 Hours Before His Execution

On the day before Foster's execution, he was taken from death row early amid protests (both inside of the jail and in the public) to spare him of the penalty.

Foster noted, "When they came and took me out of my cell, I went to the ground. I refused to walk. I was scared. I didn't feel like I should get executed. I made them carry me...and the next day, I had my final visit with my family."

Foster eventually found out that his sentence was commuted 6 hours before his execution, by then-Governor Rick Perry.

4. Foster Is Now Serving a 40 Year Life Sentence, & Will Be Eligible for Parole in 2036

In the wake of Foster's death sentence being commuted, he was given a new prison sentence of 40 years. "Every day for the last 21 years, I've had to think, 'What can I do that's going to make a difference in this situation?'" Foster said.

"Even though I wasn't the one that killed LaHood, nevertheless I was there," Foster said. "I've had to pay the price for it, and it means something to me."

Foster has stated his intentions to build a bridge with the LaHood family, to find out if "rehabilitation and redemption is possible."

"I want to show that life is worth something," Foster said.

5. Nico LaHood Believes That Foster Isn't as Innocent He Has Claimed, & Isn't Interested in Communicating

Nico LaHood has stated that he doesn't believe those men would have gone as far as they had into his neighborhood unless they were following someone.

"I became a functioning 'angerholic' [after my brother's death]," LaHood said, "and the world didn't give me any answers.

"The idea of meeting with Foster doesn't enrage me anymore," LaHood said, "But I will not expend any resources to do something solely for him. He can't pay me back...so why seek me out for a debt that he can't pay?"

(source: heavy.com)

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

Urge your reps to override governor's bid to keep death penalty

To The Daily Sun,

SB-593, a bill to abolish the death penalty in N.H., passed both the house and the senate this past session, with bipartisan support, but was vetoed by Gov. Sununu in June.

The Senate and House will meet on September 13 to vote on whether to override or sustain bills passed earlier this year but vetoed by the governor. This requires a 2/3 majority in both chambers or 16 votes in the Senate and two-thirds of however many representatives show up on the day of the vote.

I was pleased to see that my 2 representatives (Reps. Comtois and Howard) voted yes on the repeal bill. Though I don't get to say it often, I thank them both and hope they will be there to vote to override the veto. My senator James Grey, however, voted nay on SB-593. I urge him to reconsider.

The facts are that the death penalty kills innocent people, does not deter crime, is extremely costly to taxpayers, unfairly targets the poor and minorities, has failed victims' families, and has rapidly diminishing public support. The time has come to end the death penalty. It is not justice.

You can see how your representative voted at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/ (search for SB-593). You can also find contact information there for your senator and representatives; please call or email and urge them to override the veto and repeal the death penalty. It is the right thing to do.

Suzanne Allison

Barnstead

(source: Letter to the Editor, Laconia Daily Sun)

ALABAMA:

Mental evaluation set for Autauga capital murder suspect

A circuit judge wants to get the wheels moving in a 2016 capital murder case in Autauga County.

Judge Sibley Reynolds held a status hearing Tuesday afternoon in the case where Willie Foster, 33, who faces capital murder charges in the May 23, 2016, death of Carol Parker Nunnery, 72, a well-known Prattville resident.

Parker was active in efforts to improve the Autauga Creek Canoe Trail and was known as a member of the "downtown mafia," a tongue-in-cheek reference to residents who generally kept an eye on things. She was known to travel around downtown in her golf cart.

Foster worked occasionally for Parker as a handyman and did yardwork, records show.

"We want to get this out of the big stack and put it in the small stack," Reynolds told the prosecutors and defense attorneys. Reynolds ordered a mental evaluation be done on Foster to determine if he is fit to stand trial. But he also wants both sides to proceed with administrative matters to get the case ready to go to trial. A mental evaluation could take several months to complete.

Steve Langham and Terry Luck have been appointed to represent Foster. Evidence in the case suggests that someone else may have been involved, Langham told Reynolds.

"Someone else may be the perpetrator," Langham said. "There is fingerprint evidence that points to someone else."

Reynolds then looked over at Chief Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson.

"We think we got the right guy, Judge," Robinson said.

During a preliminary hearing held before District Judge Joy Booth a few days after the murder, evidence was presented that Foster confessed to sheriff's office investigators. There may be negotiations working to have Foster plead guilty to capital murder if the death penalty is taken off the table. The only other sentence possible in a capital murder case is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"We need to be looking toward some kind of resolution before we get to trial," Reynolds told the attorneys.

"We don't want to put the family through this," Luck said.

"Well, there they are," Reynolds said, indicating a group Nunnery's family and friends who were sitting on the 1st row in the courtroom.

The attorneys would not clarify after the hearing on any effort to get a plea. There has been a gag order put in place, barring participants from commenting outside court proceedings. Foster has remained in custody on a $300,000 bond since his arrest shortly after Nunnery's body was found on County Road 3 near Autaugaville.

Capital charges were sought because prosecutors think Nunnery was killed during the commission of a robbery, Robinson said before the gag order was in place. Nunnery lived near the Prattville Kindergarten School. During the beginning phases of the investigation, it had not been determined where the murder occurred, so the Prattville Police Department and the Autauga County Sheriff's Office were conducting a joint investigation. Evidence shows that Nunnery was killed on County Road 3, Sheriff Joe Sedinger said, after the investigation progressed. The sheriff's office is handling the case.

The arrest warrant reads that foster caused the death of Nunnery by '... a blunt object and or vehicle...". Nunnery's car was found in Prattville, Police Chief Mark Thompson said, during the early stages of the investigation.

(source: Montgomery Advertiser)

TENNESSEE----impending execution

Paula Dyer Killed 32 Years Before Potential Death Penalty Will Be Carried Out

Tennessee's 1st execution in 9 years is slated to be carried out on Thursday.

Attorneys for Billy Ray Irick are now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court -- but the reason why Irick is facing the death penalty lies in the death of a little girl.

Her name was Paula Dyer -- 7 years old back in 1985 when Billy Ray Irick raped and then killed her. It's a name and a face her family doesn't want you to forget.

Irick was a roommate, living with Paula's parents and brothers in 1985. Irick was supposed to be watching over the children while the parents were away. Instead, prosecutors said he barricaded a door in the home trapping Paula's brothers inside a room, while he raped and strangled Paula to death.

Paula's mother Kathy has fought to get attention off of Irick, who himself is exhausting legal efforts to avoid his Thursday execution, and back on pictures of her daughter, and the crimes Irick was convicted of committing against her.

But for now, Paula's family may just be days away from the justice that was doled out 32 years ago.

(source: newschannel5.com)

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Countdown to execution: Why it took over 30 years to execute Billy Ray Irick

The Tennessee Department of Correction moved Billy Ray Irick to death watch on Monday night.

He's scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday for raping and killing 7-year-old Paula Dyer in Knoxville on April 15, 1985. Here's a rundown of some of the most important moments in the case, which now dates back 33 years:

The lead up to murder 1982: Kenny and Kathy Jeffers marry. The couple have 5 children total, including Paula Dyer, Kathy Jeffers' 2nd child from a previous relationship. At some point, Billy Ray Irick, a friend of Kenny Jeffers, moves in as a boarder. Irick helps babysit the children when the husband, a truck stop mechanic, and wife, a waitress, work late shifts. The children nickname him "Uncle Bill."

March 1985: An electrical fire erupts in the ceiling of the Jeffers home in Clinton. Irick pulls 2 of the children from amid the burning debris and carries them to safety. The family moves with Irick into a rental house on Exeter Avenue in Knoxville's Beaumont community. Kenny Jeffers later moves out to stay with his mother in Western Heights; Irick bounces between the 2 homes.

Day of the killing

April 15, 1985: Kenny Jeffers' mother chases Irick out of her house with a broom and warns him not to come back.

Noon: Kenny Jeffers drives Irick to pick up Irick's last paycheck, then to a convenience store where Irick buys a quart of beer. Jeffers drops off Irick at the house on Exeter. Later he picks up the children from school and gives Irick a ride to buy more beer.

9 p.m.: Kathy Jeffers puts the children to bed and notices Irick muttering angrily to himself on the back porch. Irick tells her he's "mad" because he wanted to hitchhike to Virginia, but Kenny Jeffers asked him to watch the children instead.

10:30 p.m.: Kathy Jeffers reports to work for the midnight shift at Hagamans Truck Stop. She sees her husband and asks to him to go home to check on the children because she has a "bad feeling" about Irick. He brushes the conversation off.

Midnight: Irick knocks at the door of Wallace Bailey, a neighbor, and asks to use the phone for "an emergency." He calls Kenny Jeffers and tells him to come home: "It's Paula. I can't wake her up." The neighbor offers to call an ambulance, but Irick walks away, saying, "It's too late for that." Kenny Jeffers comes home to find a half-nude Paula lying on a bed with a puddle of blood between her legs. Doctors at the hospital pronounce her dead.

Investigation and prosecution

April 16, 1985: Kenny Jeffers tells a police officer at the hospital, "I knew he had done something to her. ... If he has done what I think he has done, I will kill him." Knoxville Police Department officers arrive at the home on Exeter and find Irick gone. An autopsy determines Paula had been raped and died from either strangulation or suffocation.

April 17, 1985: KPD Detective Don Wiser finds Irick on Baxter Avenue near the Interstate 275 entrance ramp trying to hitchhike. After a few hours of questioning, he admits to raping and killing Paula and signs a confession. Police charge Irick with murder.

Nov. 2, 1986: A Knox County jury finds Irick guilty of felony murder and 2 counts of aggravated rape.

Nov. 4, 1986: Jurors sentence Irick to death.

Years of appeals

May 4, 1987: Irick's 1st execution date passes as his attorneys appeal.

Nov. 7, 1988: The Tennessee Supreme Court denies Irick's 1st appeal. Further rounds of appeals continue.

Sept. 22, 2010: The Tennessee Supreme Court denies Irick's final appeal claiming insanity and sets an execution date.

Dec. 7, 2010: Irick's new execution date passes as his attorneys challenge the constitutionality of lethal injection.

July 2, 2015: The Tennessee Supreme Court denies a lawsuit by Irick and 34 other death-row inmates challenging the constitutionality of the state using the electric chair as a backup if the drugs for lethal injection run out.

March 28, 2017: The Tennessee Supreme Court denies another challenge to the state's lethal-injection protocol.

Final appeals begin

Jan. 19, 2018: The Tennessee Supreme Court sets Irick's execution date for Aug. 9.

July 31, 2018: Irick's attorneys ask the Tennessee Supreme Court to delay his execution until another challenge to the state's lethal-injection protocol can be resolved.

Aug. 6, 2018: Prison officials move Irick to death watch.

Aug. 7, 2018: Irick's attorneys ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution.

(source: Knoxville News Sentinel)

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

Is death penalty ethical, humane, fair, effective or even practical?

As of January 2017, there were 63 inmates on death row in Tennessee. Executions have been on hold pending a challenge by inmates to the single-dose drug protocol.

On Thursday, it's likely that Tennessee will perform a legally sanctioned, premeditated killing of one of its citizens.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis just announced the Catholic Church now opposes the death penalty under all circumstances.

The Pope said the death penalty violates the Gospel and amounts to the voluntary killing of a human life, which "is always sacred in the eyes of the creator."

Billy Ray Irick is scheduled to be put to death by "lethal injection protocol" at the Riverbend Maximum Security Facility unless there is another delay.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Monday allowed for the execution to continue and Gov. Bill Haslam decided not to intervene.

The last time the state of Tennessee performed a court-sanctioned killing was 2009.

There are more than 60 Tennessee inmates on death row, so now's a good time to take another look at this taxpayer-funded folly.

First, there's the ethical question. Is it right to take a life? Why don't people who oppose abortion see the inconsistency of supporting the death penalty?

Is it humane?

More than 2/3 of the countries on earth have abolished it.

The U.S. is 1 of 5 countries in the world responsible for most of these premeditated killings, along with North Korea, China, Iran and Yemen. And within the U.S.,Tennessee is 1 of only 31 states where it is legal.

Killing some innocent defendants is an unavoidable consequence.

More than 150 people in the U.S. have been exonerated and released from death row since 1973 - many with DNA evidence - prior to their execution.

We may never know how many innocents have actually been put to premeditated death by mistake.

The death penalty is arbitrary and unfair. Almost all death row inmates could not afford their own attorney at trial. Local politics, the location of the crime, plea bargains and pure chance make it a lottery of who lives and who dies.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, about 80 % of all executions have taken place in the South (about 35 % in Texas alone).

Then there are the practical considerations.

From a taxpayer's perspective, it costs less to keep a convicted murderer locked up for life than it does to legally kill them.

In addition, there is no good evidence that the death penalty reduces murder rates or acts as a deterrent for crime in general.

In April 2012, The National Research Council concluded that studies claiming that the death penalty affects murder rates were "fundamentally flawed" because they did not consider the effects of non-capital punishments and used "incomplete or implausible models." A 2009 survey of criminologists revealed that more than 88 % believed the death penalty was not a deterrent to murder.

FBI data showed that the 14 U.S. states without capital punishment in 2008 had homicide rates at or below the national rate.

Regarding the specifics of the process in Tennessee:

This killing likely will involve the use of the sedative midazolam in an attempt to cause unconsciousness, and potassium chloride to stop his heart from beating. A 3rd drug (pancuronium) may be used to cause muscle paralysis and to stop breathing.

This 3-drug protocol has been challenged as resulting in an experience of "torture."

Midazolam has been used in prior botched execution attempts where observers stated the victim did not seem fully unconscious.

If Tennessee wishes to continue killing, our legislature should modify the process to include euthanasia by nitrogen gas - inert gas asphyxiation. In this method, the condemned is sealed in an airtight chamber pumped full of nitrogen.

The prisoner would detect no abnormal sensation while breathing the odorless, tasteless gas and would not undergo the painful experience of suffocation, which is caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood, not lack of oxygen. The process is very rapid and there is no evidence that it is painful.

(source: Opinion; Matthew Hine is an Oak Ridge physician----The Tennessean)

ARKANSAS:

Appeals court orders new hearing for death row inmate

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has again reversed a lower court and ordered another hearing on whether Alvin Jackson is sufficiently intellectually disabled to be disqualified for execution for the capital murder of prison guard Scott Grimes.

The court said the district judge who ruled against Jackson didn't have the benefit of a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision on how to weigh the disability issue and it said Jackson should get a hearing on his challenge of a new diagnostic test. Competing experts testified, with the state's indicating Jackson's intellectual capacity hovered near the questionable mark.

Said the court:

We make no judgment as to whether or not Jackson is intellectually disabled, but find that the exacting review required in death penalty cases commands further consideration of this matter.

The decision was written by Judge Bobby Shepherd of El Dorado.

Jackson was sentenced to life in 1990 for the murder of Charles Colclasure then sentenced to death in 1996 for the killing of Grimes.

Jackson didn't have an execution date set.

(source:Arkansas Times)

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Arkansas judge banned from death-penalty cases seeks removal of investigator in ethics complaint

An Arkansas judge who was banned from hearing execution cases after participating in an anti-death penalty demonstration is seeking the removal of an attorney investigating his ethics complaint against the state Supreme Court.

An attorney for Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen said Tuesday the judge is asking the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to relieve J. Brent Standridge of his duties as a special counsel investigating Griffen's ethics complaint. Griffen attorney Mike Laux claimed Standridge has gathered zero evidence to support or disprove Griffen's complaint that the court violated judicial ethics rules.

Justices disqualified Griffen from execution related cases after he was photographed lying on a cot outside the governor's mansion during an anti-death penalty demonstration. Earlier that day, Griffen blocked Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug.

(source: Associated Press)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

State officials released guidelines for the scheduled execution of Carey Dean Moore's on Aug. 14.

According to the death warrant, the execution may occur from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., but unless there is a stay or legal action preventing the execution from proceeding, it will occur around 10 a.m.

Moore was sentenced to death for the 1979 murders of 2 Omaha cab drivers, Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland . He has been on death row longer than anyone else in Nebraska. This would mark the state's 1st execution since 1997.

Public parking isn't permitted on penitentiary grounds or at Cornhusker State Industries. Members of the public will be allowed on penitentiary grounds no earlier than 8 a.m. and should only cross at the following locations, which will be staffed by Lincoln police officers:

South 14th Street

Pioneers and South 8th Street

Pioneers and Highway 2

Entry to penitentiary grounds is only available on foot at South 14th Street. All people entering penitentiary grounds are subject to person and vehicle search.

Upon admission, members of the public must identify as a proponent or opponent in order to be directed to the appropriate public area.

The following rules must be observed:

Remain within assigned areas as directed by law enforcement.

No weapons of any kind are permitted on the grounds.

No backpacks, gym bags or other bags are permitted on penitentiary grounds.

No coolers or chairs are permitted on penitentiary grounds.

Only handheld signs will be permitted. No signs will be allowed that are mounted on poles, sticks or other objects. No exceptions.

Do not cross barriers.

Do not approach the security fence.

Do not film the facility or inmates through the fence.

Do not film the front entrance corridor.

Failure to adhere to the guidelines or non-compliance with instructions from law enforcement officers and/or Nebraska State Penitentiary staff will be cause for removal from the premises.

(source: KETV news)

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

Doctors voice concern over effectiveness of Nebraska execution drugs

As the date for Nebraska's 1st execution in 2 decades nears, medical professionals are voicing concern over whether the drugs the state intends to use will adequately anesthetize the prisoner.

Nebraska plans to execute Carey Dean Moore on Aug. 14, using a combination of drugs never before used in a lethal injection. The 4-drug recipe includes diazepam, which is Valium, and fentanyl, an opiate.

"The literature all shows that Valium is not strong enough to anesthetize a person," said Dr. Alan Kaye, chairman of the anesthesiology department at Louisiana State University and a professor of pharmacology. "If I were putting someone to sleep for surgery, I would never use Valium. It's just not potent enough."

Fentanyl is a opiate painkiller, responsible for many overdose deaths around the country in the opioid epidemic. It's possible that a large dose of fentanyl could prevent the prisoner from feeling pain during an execution, said Dr. Jonathan Groner, a pediatric surgeon in Ohio.

The other 2 drugs the state intends to use are cisatracurium besylate, a paralytic that has also never been used in an execution, and potassium chloride to stop the heart.

The Nebraska Department of Corrections has remained tight-lipped about why it intends to use these 4 drugs. A spokeswoman for the department did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

Those who study lethal injections believe the state chose these medicines because they were the only drugs it was able to acquire.

Most pharmaceutical companies oppose their drugs being used by states to kill people, and have enacted internal policies to keep states from purchasing them. States, therefore, often struggle to acquire lethal injection drugs.

"Nebraska has not explained why these drugs are necessary," said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "They've not explained why these drugs are more efficacious than other methods. My suspicion is that Nebraska has chosen this protocol because these are the drugs they got their hands on."

If this drug protocol works appropriately, the Valium and fentanyl will put Moore into a state of unconsciousness, Groner said. After that, the cisatracurium besylate will paralyze him so he is unable to breathe. And, finally, the potassium chloride will stop the heart.

The final 2 drugs can cause extreme pain if the prisoner is not properly anesthetized. The paralytic could cause Moore to feel like he is drowning, and the potassium chloride creates the sensation of being "chemically burned alive," Dunham said.

Because Nebraska intends to use the paralytic, it will be impossible for onlookers to know if the first 2 drugs are doing their job, Dunham said.

"This execution may go off according to plan," Dunham said, "and it may not."

Moore, who was convicted of killing 2 people in 1979, has chosen not to fight his execution in court, meaning it will likely to proceed as scheduled.

Meanwhile, 3 Catholic bishops called on the state last week to halt the execution after Pope Francis announced opposition to the death penalty.

(source: United Press International)

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Nebraska Is About to Execute Someone With an Opioid. This Is a Huge Deal.----The state "has not explained why these drugs are necessary."

After Nevada's attempt to execute Scott Dozier using fentanyl failed last month, another state is going to try to use the powerful opioid for its own execution. On August 14, Nebraska is planning to put 60-year-old Carey Dean Moore to death using an untried 3-drug cocktail that includes fentanyl, a muscle paralyzer, and potassium chloride, which will stop the inmate's heart.

At a time when public support for the death penalty is diminishing, and drug manufacturers are refusing to sell their products to prisons that intend on using them in executions, states that want to put inmates to death are facing more obstacles than ever before. Some have simply stopped executions altogether while others, like Nebraska and Nevada, have turned to more extreme measures.

"Nebraska has not explained why these drugs are necessary," Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told UPI.com. "They've not explained why these drugs are more efficacious than other methods. My suspicion is that Nebraska has chosen this protocol because these are the drugs they got their hands on."

Deborah Denno, a law professor and lethal injection expert at Fordham University in New York, explained an additional problem with the plan to the Associated Press, "When states start experimenting with a new drug combination, it heightens the likelihood there's going to be some kind of error." "When states start experimenting with a new drug combination, it heightens the likelihood there's going to be some kind of error."

Carey Dean Moore, who has been on death row for 38 years for the 1979 murders of Maynard Helgeland and Reuel Van Ness Moore, will be the 1st person executed in the state since 1997, when Robert Williams was sent to the electric chair for 2 murders. He has had 7 execution dates; the most recent were in 2007 and 2011. In 2007, his life was spared when the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the electric chair was unconstitutional. It didn't happen in 2011 because 1 of his lawyers challenged the purchase of one of the lethal injection drugs.

Next week, Nebraska plans to execute Moore using fentanyl, diazapem, which is a sedative, cisatracurium, which is a muscle paralyzer, and potassium chloride, which will stop his heart. Before Scott Dozier's execution in Nevada was halted, officials had planned to use cistracurium before switching to a midazolam, another controversial sedative that has been blamed for several botched executions. As Dr. Joel Zivot told Mother Jones in July:

Medical experts are particularly worried about the effects of cisatracurium, the muscle paralyzing drug. When the drug is injected, Dozier will be unable to move any part of his body, including using his diaphragm to breathe. "He will be dying of asphyxiation," says Dr. Joel Zivot, an anesthesiologist at Emory University. "These inmates are drowning in their own saliva, but because they can't move, they don't indicate that they're struggling."

Dozier's execution was halted hours before it was to take place, when the manufacturers of the drugs the state intended to use filed a lawsuit alleging that the state had purchased Midazolam from an unsuspecting intermediary. They stated that the intermediary would not have sold the drug knowing that it was going to be used in an execution. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez from Clark County barred Nevada from using the drugs in question. In turn, Nevada filed a petition with the state's supreme court asking it to throw out the lower court's decision. The state supreme court has yet to decide on the case, and Dozier remains on death row awaiting his execution.

A similar challenge can't be mounted in Nebraska because the state has not disclosed its drug supplier, sparking criticism from the ACLU of Nebraska and local media outlets for its refusal. This has led to a tug of war over the last few months between anti-death penalty advocates and the state. The conflict began last December, when the civil liberties group sued Nebraska in a state court saying that the Department of Corrections was violating the state's public records act by not complying with the open records request it had filed. Danielle Conrad, the group's executive director said in a statement, they intended to "force the crisis-riddled department of Corrections to identify the supplier of recently obtained lethal injection drugs in compliance with our strong open records laws."

In March, the ACLU accused the state of illegally obtaining the fentanyl that will be used in Moore's execution and asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to look into the matter. After an investigation, the DEA said the state had legally obtained the drugs but did not disclose from where. In June, a district court judge ordered the Department of Corrections to release the public records regarding the state's lethal injection supply, a ruling that Nebraska is appealing, while the source of the drugs remains unknown.

The pending lawsuits did not derail the Nebraska's plans to execute Moore, and in July, the state issued his death warrant. "That an execution would be carried out when the governor, attorney general, and Department of Corrections have not honored open records laws and kept public records about the procedure secret from Nebraskans is incredibly troubling," Amy Miller, the ACLU of Nebraska's legal director said.

Independent state senator Ernie Chambers also urged the drug company Pfizer to mount a lawsuit against the state in order to halt the execution, but Pfizer said it had no records indicating that Nebraska had obtained any restricted drugs.

Despite the legal flurry surround the case, Carey Dean Moore, much like Scott Dozier in Nevada, has resigned himself to his fate. His twin brother, David Moore, plans to attend the execution. "If this happens it's a relief. Dean has almost been executed 6 or 7 times and each time you start preparing yourself for it," he told the Lincoln Journal-Star. "He would just like to die."

(source: Mother Jones)

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

Nebraska Supreme Court denies lawyer's motion to leave death penalty case

Nebraska's highest court has denied an attorney's request to withdraw from a case involving a death-row inmate who isn't fighting the state's efforts to execute him.

The Nebraska Supreme Court issued the ruling Tuesday after defense attorney Jeff Pickens argued that his duty to provide competent legal representation conflicts with his obligation to follow the wishes of his client, Carey Dean Moore.

Pickens says he could make multiple legal arguments to prevent the scheduled Aug. 14 execution, but Moore has ordered him not to file anything. Moore was sentenced to death for the 1979 fatal shootings of 2 Omaha cab drivers.

Replacing Pickens with another attorney likely would have delayed the execution. A key drug in Nebraska's lethal injection supply, potassium chloride, expires Aug. 31.

(source: Associated Press)

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

Past executions in Nebraska brought demonstrations, and sober reality

A collage of photographs on the wall of Ben Nelson's home office shows him somber and stressed.

They were taken on the night of Sept. 2, 1994, as Nelson was waiting, as Nebraska's governor, to receive word that condemned killer Harold Lamont "Walkin' Wili" Otey had been executed.

"It was weighing heavily on me," said Nelson, a death penalty supporter. "It was no longer academic or political - it was real."

Nebraska's last executions came under Nelson's watch in the 1990s. For him and others, the memories of those sobering events are coming back as the state prepares to resume enforcing the death penalty.

Carey Dean Moore, convicted of killing 2 Omaha cabdrivers, Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland, 39 years ago, is scheduled to be executed on the morning of Aug. 14.

Barring a last-minute stay, it will be the state's 1st execution since 1997, and the 1st using lethal injection to carry out the state's ultimate penalty.

2 decades ago, when Nelson was governor, the state executed three convicted murderers: Otey, John Joubert in 1996 and Robert Williams in 1997.

Then, like now, the executions marked the resumption of capital punishment after a lengthy pause. Prior to Otey, Nebraska had not used the electric chair since 1959, when mass murderer Charlie Starkweather was executed.

Officials, prison employees and execution witnesses used words like "somber" and "solemn," "barbaric" and "God's will" to describe their experiences with the 3 executions.

The midnight execution of Otey, who attacked and murdered an Omaha woman in her Elmwood Park home, brought a loud, raucous and sometimes angry crowd of about 1,000 to the State Penitentiary in Lincoln.

Some death penalty supporters carried signs or wore T-shirts reading "Fry Wili," "3 Jolts and You're Out" and "Nebraska State Pen 1st Annual BBQ." Capital punishment foes mostly prayed, lit candles and wept. One death penalty opponent burned an American flag; another reached across the snow fence dividing the 2 groups of demonstrators, grabbed a sign with a swastika on it, and tore it up.

Supporters, some fueled by alcohol, sang, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," when Otey's death was announced at 12:33 a.m.

The conduct, labeled inappropriate by some state officials including Nelson, later prompted Nebraska to switch to mid-morning executions, when most people were at work and the bars werenít closing. Moore also is scheduled to be executed during the day, at 10 a.m.

Perhaps the most directly involved are the prison staffers who will carry out the upcoming execution.

An execution team, selected to accompany the condemned to the execution chamber and strap the person to the execution table, was selected weeks ago and has conducted several drills to ensure the execution is carried out in a professional, and dispassionate, way.

Larry Wayne, a former deputy state corrections director, said that in the 1980s and 1990s, those with fervent pro- or anti-death penalty convictions were usually not asked to participate. The task required personnel who could set aside any personal beliefs and carry out the law. Anyone who had reservations was allowed to opt out, he added.

"It's not an easy thing to take a life," Wayne said. "You don't take it lightly."

Brad Stephens, then a reporter and anchor at Omaha television station KETV, said he consulted an associate pastor at his Methodist church before serving as a witness at Williams' execution. He was morally torn: He supported capital punishment while his religion did not.

In the end, after researching the 3 violent slayings committed by Williams, Stephens, now a TV anchor in Kansas City, said he was able to nervously watch as the death warrant was read to Williams and 3 jolts of electricity rendered him lifeless.

"I thought, 'What if this guy did this to someone I loved? What would I want to happen?'" he said. "As a human being, I believe in my soul that if you take another person's life in a heinous fashion, you deserve to die."

The World-Herald reached out to several officials and others involved in the 3 executions in the 1990s. Several declined to talk about it, choosing not to relive the difficult and stressful events. That included former Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg, a leading proponent of capital punishment who was relentless in seeking the executions, and Harold Clarke, then Nebraska's corrections director, whose job it was to impose the death penalty.

Some prison workers personally involved were reluctant to talk about their experience. They get to know the inmates, who often spend years behind bars, as people, not just as criminals who have committed horrific crimes, Wayne said.

Recently, 14 former prison administrators, many with firsthand experience in carrying out the death penalty, asked to intervene in a U.S. Supreme Court appeal by a death-row inmate in Missouri. They cited the emotional toll it takes on prison workers involved in the "face-to-face" duty as another reason to end capital punishment.

"Such executions do not serve the state's interests in finality or justice," their legal brief read. "Instead they make public servants parties to barbarism."

Brian Gage, a former Nebraska prison warden and Iraq veteran, compared the anxiety of participating in an execution to the post-traumatic stress experienced in military combat.

"Whatever they feel about the death penalty, they're kind of torn. Why is this person being put to death instead of someone else?" said Gage, who is now a community college instructor. "You try to separate yourself from it, 'Hey, you're not the one who made this decision.'"

Wayne said that despite his personal opposition to capital punishment, he agreed to serve on an execution team - an execution that was called off in 1984. (Richard Holtan left death row in 1989 after being resentenced to life in prison for murdering an Omaha bartender in 1974.)

In corrections and law enforcement, Wayne said, your job is to carry out the law.

"Spiritually, as a Christian, I just don't believe in capital punishment - even Carey Dean Moore," Wayne said. "He was brought into the world as part of God's plan. When he goes out, it ought to be God's doing, not man's."

Not all agree. Jan Rowe's mother-in-law, Virginia Rowe, a Sioux Rapids, Iowa, farm wife, was 1 of 3 women brutally slain by Robert Williams. Jan Rowe said she had no reservations about accompanying Virginia's husband, Wayne, to the 1997 execution.

Jan Rowe, who helped found a Christian school near her home in Freeport, Illinois, said that Wayne Rowe expressed relief after the execution, that a long series of appeals and stays in the execution was finally over.

She said the slaying changed the happy-go-lucky personality of her husband, Tom, and that her children and grandchildren never got a chance to know Virginia Rowe. The date of her murder, Aug. 12, is remembered by family members every year.

"It victimized all of us," Rowe said of the slaying.

As for the execution, "It was part of God's will," she said.

Eugene Curtin, a longtime editor and reporter for the Bellevue Leader, witnessed the execution of Joubert, an Offutt airman who abducted and murdered 2 boys, ages 12 and 13, from that Sarpy County community. The process was clinical, professional and just, he said, and hasn't left him with nightmares.

"He committed some horrendous crimes. Our society decided they were so heinous that he forfeited his right to be among us. I have no trouble with that," Curtin said.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, the state's leading opponent of the death penalty, accompanied both Joubert and Williams to the electric chair. He said his experience steeled his resolve to end capital punishment.

"It had a bad effect on everybody who was even tangentially involved," Chambers said. Those guarding Joubert were "fidgety" and "very nervous," and Joubert was strapped so tightly to the electric chair that his hands turned blue. Williams, meanwhile, was nicked while being shaved in preparation for his electrocution, prompting the need for first aid, which Williams found ironic, according to the senator.

"They took a man who had killed and multiplied that by however many were participating in the official state killing," Chambers said. "So multiple killers were there that day. And it was so pointless."

For Nelson, dealing with the death penalty cases was one of his most serious and tough tasks as governor. As a member of the State Pardons Board, he said he had to look Otey's mother in the eyes and reject her son's appeal for clemency.

"It was my responsibility to do what the law required," he said. "There were some people who didnít accept that."

In the 3 executions in the 1990s, there was no doubt of guilt. Williams, he said, even wrote Nelson a letter, saying that he was "at peace" with his sentence, had found God and didn't blame Nelson.

"That made it harder in some respects," the former governor and U.S. senator said. "But it was some comfort to know that this person didn't think you were doing the wrong thing."

Nelson said he talks with the current governor, Pete Ricketts, from time to time, but the topic of executions has not come up.

"As it gets closer, it will get more real for an awful lot of people," Nelson said.

(source: Scottsbluff Star Herald)

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

Death penalty fight will go on

Why have I so relentlessly fought against the death penalty for more than 2 score years?

Were I the "black racist," as so many white Nebraskans aver -- why, rather than labor to save his life, would I not exult at the prospect of a white man being offered up by white people as a living sacrifice on the blood-drenched altar of capital punishment in a macabre experimental lethal injection?

If, as happens with experiments, who will be held liable and accountable? Will it be the attorney general, who managed to draw the Nebraska Supreme Court into the vortex of a violently swirling political maelstrom, the Supreme Court -- which ordered an experimental lethal injection comprising of a four-drug combination never before used and whose manufacturers strenuously object to their medicines being misused to kill -- or Corrections Director Scott Frakes, the designated executioner who has given assurances all will go well?

In the event of a botched execution, will the culpable minions of death attempt (as futilely as Lady Macbeth) to wash their hands of the guilty stain in the infamous manner of Pilate?

For me, this situation boils down to a matter of personal conviction based on unshakable belief in the intrinsic human dignity of every person, regardless of how far he or she may have fallen, which embraces a condemned prisoner like Carey Dean Moore -- so dispirited and dehumanized after decades of incarceration that he no longer believes in his own human dignity and worth as a human being -- who will submit meekly to being complicit in the state's macabre ritual of death.

The matter is summed up masterfully in John Dunne's famous transcendental homily that begins "No man is an island" and concludes "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Such principles being ingrained in my psyche, I am imprisoned in an escape-proof moral and ethical obligation to lend a hand to "the least, the last, the lost" even though they may not ask for it.

In conclusion, the Nebraska Supreme Court itself proclaimed in a 2007 opinion withdrawing a "prematurely" issued death warrant for Moore: "It is a natural reaction for some to wish to be rid of an admitted murderer who asks to be executed. We are nonetheless required to ensure the integrity of death sentences in Nebraska. ... We must adhere to our heightened objection to ensure the lawful and constitutional administration of the death penalty[.]"

Execution of a never-before-used, experimental lethal injection without factual or evidentiary bases on which to rest an assurance that a botched execution will not occur violates the court's self-imposed standard.

(source: Opinion; Sen. Ernie Chambers represents District 11, which includes portions of North Omaha, in the Nebraska Legislature----Lincoln Journal Star)

CALIFORNIA:

Scott Peterson's sister-in-law, Janey: 'We don't have justice yet; we're not there.'

Scott Peterson is guilty of adultery but not murder, his sister-in-law said in the family's 1st comprehensive video interview with The Modesto Bee since his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, went missing nearly 16 years ago.

"We don't have justice yet; we're not there," Janey Peterson said. "We can't be content thinking we know what happened to Laci and Conner; we don't."

This week, Scott Peterson's lawyers are filing a final court document aimed at reversing the death-penalty verdict their client received in December 2004.

It's the last in a standard series of 6 written pleadings before the California Supreme Court hears oral arguments and decides whether the 1-time Modesto man will be executed for murdering his pregnant wife and their unborn son at Christmastime 2002.

The Supreme Court has overturned 10 % of the nearly 200 capital punishment verdicts it has reviewed since 2009. So far this year, the court has reversed 1 of 16 death-penalty decisions.

Janey Peterson sat down with The Bee for a lengthy conversation 2 weeks ago, with his appeals milestone fast approaching.

Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, has accommodated similar sit-down requests with The Bee, notably in January 2006 and in December 2007. She and others of Laci's loved ones over the years steadfastly have maintained their belief that justice was served at Scott Petersonís trial. In April 2016, for example, Rocha summed up her thoughts: "Scott Peterson is guilty."

Scott, now 45, always has said he's innocent, and his family believes him. Janey Peterson's main message reflects the objective of 957 pages in his appeal documents, saying he is owed a new trial.

What about the 12 jurors who absorbed 6 months of trial and testimony from 184 witnesses, and determined that he's guilty? Could all 12 jurors be wrong?

"I think the verdict they made," she said, "was an emotional verdict based on adultery evidence. The pile of evidence that showed Scott was an adulterer was used to convict him of murder."

Agreed-upon interview topics included major points raised in the appeals, most having to do with the 2004 trial itself - whether the judge, jurors and attorneys went astray enough to require a do-over. Some interview subjects were off limits, like Laci's family, and Amber Frey, Scott's lover when Laci went missing.

Janey Peterson talked a bit about her family, and also about her brother-in-law, providing a peek at his life in San Quentin State Prison.

The television in Scott Peterson's cell, for example, gets only major network channels and public TV, so he's missed most of the cable news shows about his case - 8 in 2017 alone - that have popped up in the past couple of years while the culmination of his appeals draws near.

2 1/2-hour "contact visits," in a cell with him, can be paid on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; they can stretch it to 5 hours because most family members live in the San Diego area and must travel more than 250 miles. He gets such visits about every other week. Because he was convicted of murdering a minor - Conner, who Laci was carrying in pregnancy - Scott's nieces and nephews must be at least 18 to visit.

Near the end of the blockbuster 2004 trial, defense attorney Mark Geragos glumly shared with jurors a vision of a prison guard someday knocking on Peterson's cell to say his mother had died, followed later by more knocking and news that his father had died. Jackie Peterson, Scott's frail mother who used an oxygen tank in the courtroom audience, indeed died in 2013, but notifying Scott didn't happen that way; Janey was scheduled to pay him a visit that day, and broke the news in person.

"It was a hard day," Janey said. "Visiting in the cell, with people around you 360 (degrees), it was not a private place at all. I didn't let myself get emotional on the way up. When I told him, the next couple of hours we really restrained ourselves. For him, it was something we didn't want to deal with in a public way. That was very hard to do."

Asked how his father, Lee Peterson, is holding up, Janey paused 35 seconds, gathering herself before answering. On the witness stand, Lee had described Scott as his best friend.

"I don't know if you can understand how Lee is holding up unless you understand the (gravity) of this injustice. As much as us kids feel it, I don't know if I can put myself in Lee's shoes as a parent, or in Jackie's shoes. Or in Sharon's shoes," she said. "I just can't even comprehend it."

Janey spoke to The Bee in a reception area of the crate-building shop Lee established in 1975 when Scott was 3, in Poway, near San Diego. It's a family business, employing several kin including Janey and her husband, Joe, Scott's brother. Scott spent untold hours here as a youth and young man, working in the manufacturing area, moving among offices and delivering custom-built wood crates to clients needing protection for airplane parts, machinery and the like.

A small office lacking air conditioning serves as a legal strategy room, containing reams of information on the case. Some walls are covered with FBI-type timelines pinpointing Scott's known actions on the day Laci went missing, juxtaposed with what the family believes Laci, 27, was doing, with a neighborhood map reflecting reported sightings of Laci walking the couple's dog. Boxes of notes line the walls. In a finished wooden cupboard - handcrafted long ago by a young Scott Peterson - are binders filled with 45,000 pages of evidence, plus others with transcripts of the 6-month trial.

"Over the years, everything we've learned either further exonerates Scott or takes us one step closer to finding out what happened to Laci and Conner," Janey said.

Like Laci, Janey is a Peterson by marriage. She spoke briefly of her sister-in-law.

"We watched (Scott and Laci) grow up when they were first dating, and watched that progression of life, them starting to plan a family - that's why they moved to Modesto (Laci's hometown), to start a family. To see them own a home, the love they put into ... that home, and preparing for Conner. You could see who she was in all those things."

On Christmas Eve 2002, Scott left home to fish in San Francisco Bay, hauling a recently purchased 14-foot aluminum boat. Authorities believe he also hauled Laci's body, weighted with homemade concrete anchors, dumping her in the water near where the remains of mother and son washed up nearly 4 months later.

His family believes, and Geragos argued to jurors, that unknown abductors put Laci's body exactly where the whole world knew Scott had been fishing.

Jurors didn't buy it. Whether the Supreme Court does isn't really the question; it's whether Supreme Court justices find that enough went wrong in the trial to warrant a new one.

The original trial judge, Al Delucchi - who died of cancer in 2008 - once mused that both sides would have much to argue over in the appeals process. "With all the issues that have been raised," Delucchi said in October 2004, "if there is a conviction in this case, it will be an appellate lawyer's petri dish."

Now that the appeals are here, what's growing in that petri dish? Janey Peterson addressed a few points she hopes will resonate with the Supreme Court.

Neighborhood sightings

Several people reported seeing a pregnant woman walking a dog in the couple's neighborhood or nearby East La Loma Park that morning. If true, Scott must be innocent, his camp says, because it all happened after he left the home on Covena Avenue about 10 a.m. on Dec. 24, 2002.

Geragos did not call those people to the witness stand, presumably because none fit in a timeline established when neighbor Karen Servas found the Petersons' golden retriever, McKenzie, in the street with a walking leash attached to its collar, and put the dog inside the Petersons' gate at 10:18 a.m. Scott later told police he found the dog in the yard, leash still attached, when he returned from fishing.

Was it a mistake not to explore these witnesses' testimony at trial?

"You've got to say 'yes' to that; look where we're at," with Scott on death row, Janey said. "The jurors need to hear from those witnesses. And the jurors need to decide the credibility of the sum total of all witnesses in the case."

Burglary

A home directly across the street was burglarized, also after Scott left. Prosecutors said the crime was unrelated to Laci's disappearance, but Scott's attorneys realized too late that they should have done more verifying.

One of the burglars, imprisoned for that crime, later told people that he verbally threatened Laci Peterson when she confronted him that morning.

And a mailman told police that the Petersons' dog did not bark and that the gate was open when he delivered mail after Servas encountered the dog, suggesting Laci and McKenzie had gone on a walk after all.

"The one scenario that all these eyewitnesses fit is the 'Scott is innocent' scenario. That's the only answer," Janey said. "They all have to be wrong: the mailman has to be wrong, the (burglar confrontation) tip has to be wrong, the inmates on the phone have to be wrong, all the people who say they saw Laci walking her dog have to be wrong" for prosecutors to be right, she said.

Dogs

Attorneys on both sides had lengthy arguments over whether scent-dog tracking evidence should be admitted at trial. Delucchi disallowed almost all at the Peterson home and at Scott's warehouse in west Modesto, where he had hitched up the boat trailer. But the judge decided to allow testimony that a dog indicated, 4 days after Laci vanished, detecting her scent at the Berkeley Marina, where Scott had launched the boat.

Geragos must have been proud at having persuaded the judge to exclude most of the dog-tracking evidence. But jurors latched onto the marina alert, some later saying it was critical to the guilty verdict. Scott's appellate attorneys now argue that the marina alert also should have been tossed, because scent tracking is an imperfect science and dogs and handlers make mistakes.

"It was prejudicial against Scott," Janey said. "At the time, it was not real common for dog handlers to testify as to what the dog was thinking or doing. The science behind dog handling doesn't meet the threshold (for) a jury in a courtroom."

Boat

Before trial, Scott's defense team videotaped a re-enactment showing a man Scott's size trying to shove a dummy about the size of Laci's body out of a floating boat similar to Scott's, swamping the boat. Geragos wanted to show the video to jurors, but Delucchi said "no," reasoning that the boat was not exactly the same and prosecutors weren't present at taping to verify conditions, essentially preventing them from cross-examining the video.

But Delucchi let prosecutors re-enact a pregnant woman about Laci's size fitting in a large toolbox in the bed of Scott's pickup, which authorities think he might have used to transport the body, Janey noted. And the judge also allowed prosecution testimony about stability experiments on the same boat model performed in a freshwater swimming pool in Indiana 25 years before the trial.

Why didn't Geragos accept Delucchi's offer to let the defense team redo another re-enactment with the actual boat, with authorities watching?

"That would be a constitutional violation of Scott's rights," Janey said. "It's not a part of what a defense should have to do."

Jury selection

Choosing a jury before trial became a nearly 3-month ordeal. Both sides and Delucchi worked through nearly 1,000 questionnaires of prospective jurors, and questioned hundreds before agreeing on the final panel.

Scott's appellate lawyers now contend Delucchi erred when he excused 30 prospective jurors based solely on their written answers, where they professed opposition to the death penalty. Each should have been orally questioned to see whether they might set aside personal opinions to apply the law in some circumstances, the appeal says.

"That's an example of error," the kind that requires redoing the trial phase where jurors decided he should be executed, Janey said.

Is it really a big deal?

3 weeks ago, the California Supreme Court cited the same reason in reversing a death penalty verdict for Steve Woodruff, who killed a Riverside police detective in 2001. That judge had improperly excused one prospective juror, justices found.

Would Scott's family be satisfied with a retrial of just the penalty phase?

"No," Janey said. "Scott needs a new trial from the beginning. That's just 1 of the issues in appeal."

Richelle Nice

Another juror, Richelle Nice, did not reveal that her then-boyfriend's ex had threatened them when Nice had been pregnant, before the trial.

"That woman spent time in prison, or jail. That would have been something the defense should have had a right to know, and excuse her as a juror," Janey said.

In September, Nice told The Bee that the woman spent a week in jail for vandalizing the boyfriend's car and the door to their home, not for murdering two people. She didn't include the information on her pretrial questionnaire because it didn't seem remotely similar, Nice said.

Appeals process

Death row inmates pursue 2 appeals handled by 2 sets of attorneys.

One questions fairness in the trial, including a judge's alleged missteps. The other, called a habeas corpus petition, typically attacks the performance of a defense attorney, in this case Geragos, and can focus on new evidence, such as the revelations about Nice's past.

In both sets of appeals, the inmate begins by filing an opening brief. It's a misnomer; Peterson's 1st was 470 pages. The state attorney general's office responds with a written brief on behalf of prosecutors, followed by the inmate's final reply. That's 3 briefs for each appeal, or 6 in total.

The only written step left in Peterson's case is this week's final reply on the habeas track. All then will wait for the Supreme Court to schedule oral arguments, which could take 3 or 4 years, followed by more years of appeals on other levels, if warranted.

"The justice system doesn't always get it right," Janey said, referring to the initial trial, moved from Modesto to Redwood City because of prejudicial saturation here.

"We're still in the appellate part of the justice system," she continued. "So we have to still have hope and faith in our justice system, that they'll get it right."

(source: modbee.com)

JAPAN:

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa orders all Aum doomsday cult's trial records to be permanently preserved

Authorities have decided to permanently preserve trial records of criminal cases involving the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult as part of efforts to prevent a repeat of the serious crimes committed by its members, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Friday.

"Their crimes were unprecedented, and similar crimes should never happen again. It is my important duty to stop (the records) from being discarded while ensuring they are passed down to future generations," said Kamikawa, under whose orders all 13 Aum death-row inmates, including founder Shoko Asahara, were executed last month.

It is extremely rare for the ministry to announce which criminal cases will have their trial records permanently preserved.

In addition to the trial documents, administrative records related to the executions are to be retained indefinitely, Kamikawa said. "I expect them to be stored in the National Archives in the future."

Trial records, such as defendants' statements, are normally disposed of after being held by prosecutors for a prescribed period of time.

When a case is considered meaningful for academic research or helpful for investigations of future crimes, the justice minister can order the preservation of related documents. As of the end of July, documents from 722 cases had been listed for conservation, but the ministry has not revealed the names of the people involved.

Most Aum-related records have been retained, but some - such as cases in which defendants were charged for minor crimes and sentenced to a fine - have already been discarded. A total of 190 people, including the 13 senior members hanged in July, were convicted.

A group of academics and journalists petitioned the ministry to retain the documents in April. They said the records should be retained because they are the property of the public and will be valuable for research into issues involving cults and terrorism.

Shizue Takahashi, whose husband died in the 1995 Aum sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway system, assented to the petition and expressed her hope that it will be successful.

(source: Japan Times)

MALDIVES:

Death penalty will be implemented in a PPM govt: President Yameen

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has declared that capital punishment will be established in an administration of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), and called to stop obstruction towards the president.

The president made the statement during a speech at Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Madaveli, amidst public criticism of the government over the delay in implementing the death penalty.

President Yameen stated that capital punishment will be implemented as soon as the procedure code is complete, and assured that the president will fulfil all pledges made to the public during his administration.

The president further alleged that members of opposition parties have been working to obstruct Yameen's foreign policy, which is built on religion, independence and Maldivian culture.

The government had earlier announced that capital punishment will be established by September 2017.

An execution chamber has now been established in Maafushi Prison. According to the regulations compiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs on capital punishment, the death penalty will be executed via hanging or lethal injection.

There are currently 18 individuals on death row in the Maldives, according to the statistics of Maldives Correctional Service. The 3 courts of the judiciary have upheld capital punishment for 3 of them: Hussain Humam Ahmed convicted of MP Dr. Afrasheem Ali's murder, Ahmed Murrath convicted of killing prominent lawyer Ahmed Najeeb, and Mohamed Nabeel convicted of killing Abdulla Farhad.

Meanwhile, international organisations and world powers have raised concerns over the Maldives' return to capital punishment after nearly 6 decades of upholding de facto moratorium. The United Nations, European Union and Amnesty International, along with nations such as the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have called on the Maldives government to axe its decision to implement the death penalty.

(source: edition.mv)

SAUDI ARABIA----execution

Saudi Arabia crucified a man in Mecca while aggressively calling out Canada over human rights

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed a man by crucifixion in the holy city of Mecca on Wednesday, while it was trying to attack Canada on its human rights record.

Saudi Arabia frequently uses capital punishment, which can be issued for crimes like homosexuality or anti-government activities, though crucifixions are rare.

The execution came during a deepening dispute between the 2 countries sparked by Canadian criticism of how Saudi Arabia is treating jailed activists.

The crucified man, Elias Abulkalaam Jamaleddeen, stood accused of murder, theft, and attempted rape, according to Bloomberg .

Saudi Arabia, ruled by its interpretation of Islamic law, rarely carries out crucifixions, but capital punishment remains common.

Crimes such as attending anti-government rallies and homosexuality have contributed to crucifixion sentences in Saudi Arabia in the past.

Wednesday's death sentence for Jamaleddeen coincides with a new Saudi state media push to attack Canada's human rights record as an escalation in a growing feud between the 2 distant countries.

Canada on Monday called for Saudi Arabia to release women's rights campaigners detained in the country, which prompted a harsh response from the kingdom.

Saudi-owned media blasted Canada for arresting a holocaust denier and other citizens. TV pundits brought up Canada's suicide rate in what appeared as a broadside against the country's way of living.

The absolute monarchy ruling Saudi Arabia tightly controls the media broadcast within its borders and its foreign policy messaging.

(source: businessinsider.com)

MALAYSIA:

Man, 53, faces death over 56gm of syabu

A 53-year-old man claimed trial in the High Court to trafficking 56.36gm of syabu.

Mukim Tamang, who was brought before Judge Datuk Nurchaya Hj Arshad, is accused of committing the offence at 2.30pm on April 26, 2016 at the car park in front of Borneo Spa Karambunai, Manggatal.

The charge is framed under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act which provides for the death penalty on conviction.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gan Peng Kun informed the court that the prosecution has 4 witnesses.

Assigned counsel Hamid Ismail told the court that he would make a representation to the Senior Federal Counsel's office to apply for a reduction of the charge.

The court set Aug 28 for mention of the case.

Meanwhile, a 36-year-old local charged with trafficking 4,619gm of syabu will go on trial from Aug 13-16 this year.

The court set the date for Muhd Zubir Sabtal during pre-trial case management.

Unemployed Zubir allegedly committed the offence at 2.45am on Jan 4, 2017 in room No. 502, Tang Dynasty Bay Hotel, at Kg Gudon, Sepanggar Bay.

He was represented by counsel Dominic Chew and Luke Ressa Balang.

In another case, the court fixed Oct 1-4 for the continuation of the trial of a 39-year-old local charged with murdering his mother in Kota Belud.

The court set the date for Bukhari Jinol after being informed by both the prosecution and Bukhari's counsel, that the representation letter for the charge to be reduced had been rejected by AG's Chamber in Putrajaya.

Bukhari is accused of committing the crime to Teh Juari, 56, at 10.40pm on May 1, 2017 in a house at Kg Linau, Kota Belud.

The charge under Section 302 of the Penal Code carries the death penalty on conviction.

Bukhari was represented by counsel Ridwandean Borhan.

Mukim, Zubir and Bukhari were ordered to be remanded further as the charge framed against them respectively has no provision for bail.

(source: Daily Express)

INDIA:

Death penalty in India rape cases a 'ploy,' say rights activists

An Indian parliament ruling prescribing the death penalty for those convicted of raping a girl under the age of 12 has been criticized by rights activists, who call the legislation "hurrie" and "not in the larger interests of the society."

The legislation, which also tightened the law dealing with sexual offenses, follows a nationwide outcry after the rape of an 8-year-old girl girl in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir in April this year.

The girl, a member of the nomadic Muslim Bakharwal community, was held captive in a Hindu temple, raped and killed. Her body was found in nearby jungle.

Kashmir police arrested 8 Hindu men and claimed they carried out the attack to scare the nomadic community away from the area.

Several members of the ruling Hindu right-wing party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) came out in support of the accused and called for the case to be transferred to Delhi.

The attack on the girl caused outrage across India.

Under legislation passed on Monday the time limit for investigation and trial in rape cases is 2 months. Any appeal has to be completed within s6 months.

"The drastic sentencing introduced in this legislation is a hurried decision. It will harm children, not benefit them," said Anant Kumar Asthana, a child rights activist and lawyer.

"Putting the death penalty as a provision for punishment goes against the interest of the victims because most offenders are known to either the child or the family, and the death penalty act as a deterrent in filing a case."

But the junior interior minister, Kiren Rijiju, defended the bill, saying that "it will provide safety to young girls."

Speaking in the parliament, the minister said that "we have introduced changes in the Indian penal code, criminal court procedure and Evidence Act (to prevent) atrocities against children".

Suhas Chakma, director of the Asian Center for Human Rights, said that the death penalty was not a deterrent against crime.

"In a country where 30 million cases are pending in courts, each time you make a law, you only burden the judiciary with more special courts. Then, after a while, special courts collapse under the burden of the huge number of cases," Chakma said.

Political activist Kavita Krishnan, leader of the All India Progressive Women's Association, said the legislation is "a red herring to save the government, which is in the dock because leaders of the ruling party took part in a rally in support of the Kathua rape accused."

"In the past few weeks, cases of abuse of young girls in government-run shelter homes have cropped up. The death penalty is a ploy to divert the attention of the people," she said.

(source: Arab News)

IRAQ:

Iraq to hang 5 more 'Islamic State members'

The Central Criminal Court of Iraq on Tuesday sentenced to death by hanging 5 persons for membership to the Islamic State (IS).

The court "reviewed the cases of 5 individuals convicted of membership [to IS] who worked in several divisions of the organization," the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council's (IHJC) spokesperson, Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, said in a statement.

Over the past 2 years, Iraqi forces have arrested tens of thousands of people which include foreign nationals they claim are members or affiliates of the militant group. Most still await sentencing.

Despite concerns from the United Nations (UN), Iraqi courts repeatedly issue the death penalty for many IS members who have been arrested and detained under questionable conditions.

"The convicts partook in fighting against security and military forces in the provinces of Nineveh and Anbar and had carried out terrorist attacks," Birqdar added.

The IHJC regularly issues statements after they hand sentences to individuals who have been convicted and are awaiting the court's final verdict.

"The court issued its decision to hang to death the accused under the provisions of Article 4/1 of [Iraq's] anti-terrorism law," the spokesperson concluded.

In the past year, Iraq has executed dozens of foreign and local IS members. A few months ago, Iraqi courts sentenced 212 people to death in Mosul and surrounding areas, most of them for membership to the extremist group.

International humanitarian organizations, including the UN, say efforts by Iraqi authorities to speed up the implementation of death sentences could lead to the execution of innocent people.

The death penalty in Iraq was suspended on June 10, 2003, but reinstated the following year.

(source: kurdistan24.net)

PAKISTAN:

Zainab's killer sentenced to death for murder of 2 other girls

In another trial held inside a prison, an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Monday handed Imran Ali - who is currently incarcerated and on death row for the rape and murder of 6-year-old Zainab Amin - the death penalty on 5 more counts for the rape and murder of 2 other girls.

Ali, a resident of Kasur, was involved in at least 9 incidents of rape-cum-murder of minors, including Zainab, which he had confessed to during her murder investigation.

ATC Judge Sajjad Ahmad Sheikh handed down the penalty judgement after the prosecution established the role of 24-year-old Ali in the rape and murder charges framed in cases 352/16 and 188/17.

In case 352/16 registered in April 2016, he was sentenced to 1 count of death, 2 counts of 25 years of rigorous imprisonment, 1 count of 2 years RI and 1 count of 1 year RI under PPC Sections 376(3), 364-A, 337-A(1), and 337-F(1), and Anti-Terrorism Act Section 7(c).

He was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs1,500,000 and Rs75,000 under daman (compensation determined by the court to be paid by the offender to the victim for causing hurt not liable to arsh, the compensation specified for offences relating to various kinds of hurt).

Failure to pay the fines will result in an additional 6 months of imprisonment.

In case 188/17 filed in Feb 2017, he received four counts of death, and one count of life imprisonment under PPC Sections 364-A (kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of fourteen), 376(3) (rape of minor), 302-B (punishment for qatl-e-amd), and 377 (unnatural offences); and Section 7(a) ATA (punishment for acts of terrorism).

He was also ordered to pay 3 fines of Rs1,000,000 each and Rs1,000,000 as compensation to the victim's heirs. In case of failure to pay any of the amounts, he will have to undergo an additional 6 months imprisonment.

On Saturday, the ATC handed Ali the death sentence on 12 counts for the rape and murder of 3 other minor girls.

3 more cases remain pending against Ali.

ZAINAB'S MURDER:

Zainab's rape and murder earlier this year had sparked outrage and protests across the country after the 6-year-old, who went missing on January 4, was found dead in a trash heap in Kasur on January 9.

Her case was the 12th such incident to occur within a 10-kilometre radius in the city over a 12-month period.

The heinous nature of the crime had seen immediate riots break out in Kasur - in which 2 people were killed - while #JusticeforZainab became a rallying cry for an end to violence against children.

The Punjab government had declared the arrest of Ali, the prime suspect, on January 23.

On June 12, the Supreme Court rejected Ali's appeal against the death sentence handed to him for the rape and murder of Zainab, noting that the petitioner had admitted committing similar offences with eight other minor victims and "in that backdrop, he did not deserve any sympathy in the matter of his sentences".

Imran had filed the appeal challenging the death sentence handed to him in February, claiming his trial was not fair. He still has the right to seek clemency from President Mamnoon Hussain.

(source: Pakistan Today)

SOUTH AFRICA:

Political party wants death penalty for rapists after Khensani Maseko protests----The death of Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko has gathered nationwide attention over the course of the week. One political party is now demanding action of the highest order.

Rape and rape culture have long been a major issue at Rhodes University and South African universities in general. While protests rocked campuses in 2016, it is clear that the situation has not improved. Women risk their lives and bodies daily just by going about their normal life.

On Tuesday, the National Freedom Party, NFP, called for the death penalty for those convicted of rape and murder.

With Rhodes University suspending its academic programme for both Monday and Tuesday after a student took her own life. Khensani Maseko posted her last picture on Instagram marking the day she would die. The caption read "no one deserves to be raped".

The NFP has been shaken by Maseko's death.

"The NFP challenges the ANC-led government to open a debate in Parliament on bringing back death penalty."

"NFP is deeply concerned and against the ongoing rape culture in South Africa. Khensani Maseko's death has proved again that many more women are dying in silence. As this month is supposedly Women's Month, losing a young intellectual like her is a huge loss."

The party believes that the ANC has failed the women of South Africa.

Rhodes University confirmed on Monday that before her death, Maseko and her family had informed the university that she was raped in May by a fellow student.

In 2016, Rhodes University was shut down briefly with ongoing #RuReferenceList protests. The movement looked to expose alleged rapists on campus and pressure university management into taking steps against rape culture.

As a result of the protests, a Task Team was created in December 2016 to provide recommendations to the university on how to better handle and combat rape instances involving students.

96 recommendations were made, but on Monday panel members remained unsure as to whether the university ever implemented them.

The accused rapist has been issued with a notice to suspend from the university.

(source: thesouthafrican.com)

AUGUST 7, 2018:

OHIO----new death sentence

Jury recommends death penalty for serial killer Anthony Kirkland

A jury has recommended the death penalty for serial killer Anthony Kirkland.

The jury -- 6 white men, 4 white women and 2 black women -- recommended that Kirkland be executed for his crimes.

It was the 2nd death sentence for the convicted serial killer.

He was previously sentenced to die by a jury that convicted him of his most recent 2 murders. But Ohio's Supreme Court overturned that sentence last year, citing comments made by the prosecutor at trial.

The guilty verdict stood in his most recent trial, but a new jury was forced to decide if Kirkland died or spend life in prison.

Kirkland admitted to killing 5 women and girls.

He first murdered Leona Douglas in 1987. Following a 16-year prison term, he murdered an additional 4 women between 2006 and 2009.

Casonya Crawford 14, was strangled by Kirkland and set on fire in May 2006.

Mary Jo Newton was strangled and set on fire by Kirkland June 2006. A few months later, Kimya Rolison was stabbed to death then set on fire by Kirkland.

Esme Kenney 13, was killed in March 2009. She was jogging in Winton Hills near her home when Krikland attacked her, strangled her, then burned her body.

As the jury filed in and Anthony Kirkland entered the courtroom Monday, the tension could be felt among the loved ones of his victims.

Chief assistant prosecuting attorney Mark Piepmeier started the closing arguments, stating Kirkland deserves death.

Piepmier challenged the validity of the defense's medical expert, insisting Kirkland knew what he was doing.

Kirkland's attorney, Richard Wendel, said Kirkland's mental state draws the comparison of a car with no brakes, which is why Kirkland wanted life without parole.

"Anthony is confused on why he would kill people that didn't deserve it," Wendel said.

As the faces of Kirkland's victims loom as reminders for the jury, Piepmeier and Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters outlined the gruesome detail of the horror that led up to their deaths.

The defense reminded the jury of Kirkland's childhood.

"The 5-year-old Anthony Kirkland never had a chance," Wendel said.

Wendel argued Kirkland didn't truly see the faces of his victims or understand the magnitude of his actions.

"It was too late. With a brain subject to neglect, abuse, violence, he has the brain to misjudge non-threat with threat. Anthony goes into 'fight or flight' ...," Wendel said.

"Any one of you could prevent the death penalty," Wendel said.

"For you to not choose the death penalty -- that is you saying, 'Sorry, Cassandra and Esme were not that important,'" Piepmeier said.

(source: WLWT news)

TENNESSEE----impending execution

Supreme Court denies stay of execution for Billy Ray Irick, Haslam will not intervene

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the scheduled execution of Billy Ray Irick should proceed as planned on Thursday, denying his request for a stay.

Shortly after the Monday evening ruling, Gov. Bill Haslam announced he would not intervene and would allow the execution to go forward.

"I took an oath to uphold the law," Haslam said in a statement. "Capital punishment is the law in Tennessee and was ordered in this case by a jury of Tennesseans and upheld by more than a dozen state and federal courts."

As of January 2017, there were 63 inmates on death row in Tennessee. Executions have been on hold pending a challenge by inmates to the single-dose drug protocol.

The decisions from Haslam and the high court come despite an ongoing legal challenge of the state's lethal injection method. They move the state one step closer to executing its 1st inmate since 2009.

Gene Shiles, Irick's defense attorney, released a statement thanking Haslam for his thoughtful consideration but said the governor's office had misunderstood crucial elements of the case history en route to a decision.

Shiles said Monday that Irick would seek a delay from the federal court system while his civil appeal is pending.

The Supreme Court said it 'must deny Mr. Irick's motion'

In an order issued by a majority of the 5-person court, the court said that, according to existing rules, it "must deny Mr. Irick's motion."

Justice Sharon Lee dissented, saying she would have granted the stay until an ongoing challenge to the state's lethal injection protocol could be heard by an appeals court.

"The harm to Mr. Irick of an unconstitutional execution is irreparable," Lee wrote in a forceful break with the majority. "Yet the harm to the State from briefly delaying the execution until after appellate review is minimal, if any."

Billy Ray Irick was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Paula Dyer in 1986. Decades of appeals later, he's still on death Paula's family still can't rest.

Irick, 59, was convicted in 1986 of the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in Knox County. Although Irick has exhausted appeals on his original case, he asked the court last week to delay his execution so he and 32 other death row offenders could continue their legal challenge of the drugs Tennessee intends to use to kill him.

The death row offenders argued the 3 drugs Tennessee plans to use will torture inmates to death. They also said the state did not do enough to find a drug that would provide a more humane death.

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle disagreed. After a two-week trial in July, Lyle ruled against the inmates, saying the state did enough to attempt to find other drugs. She did, however, agree experts provided by the inmates gave compelling testimony about the potential for the lethal injection drugs to not work as intended.

She determined while an offender may feel pain, that pain would not rise to the level of torture.

Nonetheless, attorneys for the death row inmates thought her ruling gave ample grounds for appeal.

Federal courts could offer final chance for Irick

In a statement Monday after the order was issued, Nashville attorney and death penalty expert David Raybin said the decision to deny a delay "opens the door to a federal court granting a short stay so the state can resolve the pending litigation."

In the majority's order, the court found Irick had failed to present a legal argument that was likely to win on appeal. A 2015 change to the rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court requires death row inmates to prove an ongoing lawsuit is likely to succeed in order to get a stay of execution.

This is the 1st time the court has applied that new rule. Monday's order essentially acknowledged that a similar request would have been granted before the change was made - but not now.

"Indeed, this Court has granted such stays in the past," the order read. But "to obtain a stay at this time, Mr. Irick must establish a likelihood of success, and he has failed to satisfy this standard."

Kelley Henry, the federal public defender who has led the lethal injection challenge, rejected that finding. In a statement released Monday evening, she said the decision from state's high court, made only a week after the request was submitted, left Irick to face execution "before the courts have had a chance to thoughtfully consider the challenge to the new lethal injection protocol."

"As Justice Lee pointed out in her dissent, Mr. Irick now stands to be executed without the benefit of an appeal," Henry wrote.

At this point, Irick has essentially 1 option: ask for a stay in the federal court system.

Henry said Irick would "likely" ask the U.S. Supreme Court to order a stay, but she said Haslam should take action to postpone Irick's execution.

Haslam declines to act: 'My role is not to be the 13th juror'

Haslam had the power to delay Irick's execution to allow for an appeal or to change his death sentence to a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His attorneys had argued Irick deserved clemency because he was mentally ill and thus could not understand the consequences of his actions.

As noted in the Nashville Scene, the psychologist who originally assessed Irick's mental state and argued against an insanity defense essentially retracted his report years later after reviewing additional evidence.

But in his statement, Haslam defended his decision not to act, noting state and federal courts "have reviewed and upheld the juryís verdict and sentence on 17 different occasions."

Shiles, Irick's criminal defense attorney, pushed back on that point.

"The truth is no facts relating to Billy's state mind at the time of the offenses - including his hallucinations and talking to 'the devil' were ever considered by a single court on the merits," Shiles said in a statement. "These facts, the most important to reasoned decisions as to guilt and punishment, were instead 'defaulted' and never weighed because they were determined to be untimely - raised too long after the trial."

Haslam's statement was resolute, suggesting he was satisfied with the judicial consideration of all the facts.

"My role is not to be the 13th juror or the judge or to impose my personal views, but to carefully review the judicial process to make sure it was full and fair," Haslam said. "Because of the extremely thorough judicial review of all of the evidence and arguments at every stage in this case, clemency is not appropriate."

(source: The Tennessean)

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

Gov. Haslam declines to intervene in Billy Ray Irick execution

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday he will not intervene in the case of Billy Ray Irick, set to be executed later this week for the murder of a 7-year-old girl in Knox County more than 30 years ago.

Haslam said in a statement that even though Irick requested clemency based upon his mental health status at the time the crime was committed, a mental health expert ruled he was competent to stand trial.

Numerous state and federal courts, including the Tennessee Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court, have reviewed and upheld the verdict on 17 different occasions, 11 of which were after additional evidence came to light about Irick's behavior in the weeks leading up to the murder.

"I took an oath to uphold the law," wrote Haslam. "Capital punishment is the law in Tennessee and was ordered in this case by a jury of Tennesseans and upheld by more than a dozen state and federal courts. My role is not to be the 13th juror or the judge or to impose my personal views, but to carefully review the judicial process to make sure it was full and fair. Because of the extremely thorough judicial review of all of the evidence and arguments at every stage in this case, clemency is not appropriate."

Earlier on Monday, Tennessee's Supreme Court refused to stay Irick's execution while the state's lethal injection protocol continues to be challenged on appeal.

The court's majority wrote Monday that state Supreme Court rules require proving that the lawsuit challenging the new three-drug cocktail is likely to succeed on appeal, but Irick's attorney has failed to do so.

Irick is scheduled to be executed Thursday in the 1985 rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer. Irick would be the 1st inmate Tennessee has executed since 2009.

(source: WATE news)

MISSOURI:

20 years after former St. Louis reporter's murder, panel reviewing convicted killer's fate will convene

A special panel formed to review the death penalty case of Marcellus Williams will convene later this month after being in limbo following the abrupt resignation of former Gov. Eric Greitens.

Retired U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson told the Post-Dispatch Monday that Gov. Mike Parson gave the panel of 5 former judges the green light to proceed with the review of Williams, who was sentenced to death in connection with the 1998 murder of former Post-Dispatch reporter and University City resident Lisha Gayle.

Williams was hours from being executed last August when Greitens stopped the process and invoked a rarely used state law to appoint a special board to review the case and recommend life or death.

That panel had been scheduled to meet in June, but Greitens' departure left the members unsure of their authority.

But, after a top Parson staffer called her, Jackson said the members agreed to meet Aug. 22 to hear from attorneys involved in the case.

"We're going to move forward," Jackson said.

Each side will get 30 minutes to present an overview of the case.

The Aug. 22 date is significant because it marks the 1-year anniversary of Greitens' decision to halt the execution.

Williams was convicted in 2001 of murdering Gayle at her home in University City. Prosecutors said Williams was burglarizing the home when Gayle, who had been taking a shower, surprised him. Gayle, who left the paper in 1992, fought for her life as she was stabbed repeatedly.

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.

The panel has met twice since it was formed. The 1st meeting was held in November, when the jurists received transcripts of Williams' trial, information on DNA testing that was done in 2016 and other background information on Williams' case, including opinions from various state and federal appeals.

The 2nd meeting came in March.

Members of the panel are Jackson, former 22nd Circuit Judge Michael David, former Circuit Judge Peggy Fenner of Jackson County, former Missouri Court of Appeals Western District Judge Paul Spinden and former Circuit Judge Ellen Roper of Boone County.

(source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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

Ex-Judges to Review Evidence in Missouri Death Penalty Case

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson will allow a panel of 5 former judges to review the death penalty case of Marcellus Williams, whose guilt in the stabbing death of a former newspaper reporter has been called into question by DNA evidence.

The inquiry was initially ordered last year by then-Gov. Eric Greitens. Parson replaced his fellow Republican as governor in June after Greitens resigned amid investigations into an extramarital affair and his alleged use of a charity donor list for political purposes.

A spokeswoman for Parson on Monday confirmed the panel has been given the go-ahead to proceed.

Williams was convicted of killing former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle during a 1998 burglary. He was hours away from execution last August when Greitens stepped in and ordered the investigation.

(source: Associated Press)

SOUTH DAKOTA:

A Jury May Have Sentenced a Man to Death Because He Is Gay. It's Time for a Federal Court to Hear His Bias Claim

Last week, civil rights groups, including the ACLU and Lambda Legal, urged the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to accept the case of Charles Rhines, a gay man in South Dakota whose sexual orientation may have played a role in his death sentence in 1993.

In a related appeal, the Eighth Circuit denied relief on many of Mr. Rhines's claims the day after the friend-of-the-court filing. But the federal appeals court didn't address whether Mr. Rhines will be allowed to present evidence of anti-gay bias, as the groups had asked in their friend-of-the-court brief. The Eighth Circuit can still take the case, and it should. Here's why.

As I noted in June, when the Supreme Court declined to review Mr. Rhines's death sentence:

Some of the jurors who imposed the death penalty on Charles Rhines, who was convicted of murder, have said they thought the alternative - a life sentence served in a menís prison - was something he would enjoy as a gay man.

During deliberations, the jury had often discussed the fact that Mr. Rhines was gay and there was "a lot of disgust" about it, one juror recalled in an interview, according to the court petition. Another said that jurors knew he was gay and "thought that he shouldn't be able to spend his life with men in prison." A 3rd recounted hearing that if the jury did not sentence Mr. Rhines to death, "if he's gay, we'd be sending him where he wants to go."

That's highly alarming. Yet Mr. Rhines has never had the chance to present this evidence of juror bias to a federal judge because he didn't know about it until 2 decades later.

In 2016, jurors from his trial came forward to explain the role Mr. Rhines's sexual orientation played in the decision to sentence him to death. Once Mr. Rhines learned of the anti-gay statements made during jury deliberations, he asked a federal trial judge to allow him to update his petition to add this new information. At every turn, Mr. Rhines's pleas have been rejected. As a result, no federal judge has even considered the jurors' statements to determine whether anti-gay bias was a motivation for the jury to sentence Mr. Rhines to death.

Fortunately, it isn't too late for the Eighth Circuit to change that. As the civil rights groups explained in their friend-of-the-court brief, our judicial system has safeguards to prevent bias based on sexual orientation - but those safeguards are not failsafe. When they do fail, federal courts have a duty to step in to ensure that "our law punishes people for what they do, not who they are."

That is particularly true in cases like Mr. Rhines's, where bias against him because of his sexual orientation may have made the difference between life and death.

(source: Ria Tabacco Mar, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project----aclu.org)

NEBRASKA:

Boswell attorney challenges Nebraska death penalty, says it violates U.S. Constitution

An attorney for Bailey Boswell has asked a Saline County judge to declare Nebraska's death penalty unconstitutional. State prosecutors said last week they would seek capital punishment for Boswell, who is charged with 1st-degree murder in the alleged strangulation death and dismemberment of Sydney Loofe.

The state said in July it would also seek the death penalty against Aubrey Trail, who prosecutors allege lured the 24-year-old Lincoln woman to a Wilber apartment he shared with Boswell before killing her last November.

Loofe's remains were found in rural Clay County on Dec. 4 and 5.

Boswell, who appeared briefly in court Monday, was scheduled to enter a plea to the charges of 1st-degree murder and unlawful disposal of human remains prosecutors have brought against her.

But because of a motion filed by her attorney, Todd Lancaster of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, Judge Julie D. Smith did not ask Boswell to enter a plea for now.

Lancaster's motion asked the court to find Nebraska's death penalty statutes in violation of the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, citing a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned Florida's death penalty sentencing procedure.

The 22-page motion argues the state's capital punishment statutes are unconstitutional because they do not provide guidelines or standards for prosecutors to make a "rational" determination of the aggravating circumstances needed to seek the death penalty.

"The decision to file aggravating circumstances can be effected by the legal experience of the prosecutor, the size and resources of the particular county, any prejudice or bias of the prosecutor, the political ambition of the prosecutor, or other political circumstances," the motion says.

It also argues that while juries are able to determine whether aggravating circumstances exist, they are unable to assign any weight to those circumstances for a 3-judge panel to consider, while judges are responsible for weighing mitigating factors against the aggravating circumstances when applying the death penalty.

Lancaster also argued that under Nebraska's death penalty statutes, juries have no authority to "suggest, recommend, or determine whether the Defendant should be sentenced to life" - only to find whether aggravating circumstances exist.

Because those decisions are made by the three-judge panel, the state's death penalty statutes are prejudiced against defendants who exercise their constitutional right to a jury trial, the motion says.

The motion also argues the aggravating circumstance prosecutors cite as justification for seeking the death penalty against Boswell is overly vague and not defined under Nebraska law.

The Nebraska Attorney General's Office, in filing the alleged aggravating circumstances against her on Aug. 1, said Loofe's murder "manifested exceptional depravity by ordinary standards of morality and intelligence."

But Boswell's attorney said neither "exceptional depravity" nor "ordinary standards of morality and intelligence" were clearly defined in state statute, nor were they clearly interpreted in previous court challenges.

Lastly, the motion argued that fewer defendants were being sentenced to death, and that fewer condemned prisoners were being executed as part of "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."

After reading Boswell her rights and informing her of the possible penalties, Smith set a Sept. 17 hearing date for Lancaster's motion.

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)

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

Nebraska to try risky 4-drug series in 1st lethal injection

Nebraska state officials are preparing for their first execution in two decades and first-ever lethal injection with an untried combination of drugs that includes a powerful painkiller responsible for much of the nation's opioid epidemic and a paralyzing drug that could conceal whether something has gone wrong.

The execution planned for Aug. 14 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln comes with significant risks for Nebraska prison officials, who haven't carried out a death sentence since using the electric chair in 1997.

No state in modern history has resumed executions after such a long hiatus, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit opposed to capital punishment that tracks how states perform executions. Nebraska is also poised to become the 1st state to use a four-drug protocol, including three substances that have never been used in a lethal injection.

"When states start experimenting with a new drug combination, it heightens the likelihood there's going to be some kind of error," said Deborah Denno, a law professor and lethal injection expert at Fordham University in New York.

Nebraska is among a handful of states that still have capital punishment on their books but haven't carried out an execution in decades as the total number falls nationally, according to the information center.

The last executions in Colorado, Oregon and Wyoming took place in the 1990s. Kansas hasn't executed an inmate since 1965, and New Hampshire hasn't done so since 1939. Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty in 2015, but voters reinstated it the following year through a ballot initiative partially financed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Prison officials are set to execute Carey Dean Moore, who has spent 38 years on Nebraska's death row for the 1979 shooting deaths of 2 Omaha cab drivers. The 60-year-old Moore has stopped fighting the state's efforts to execute him.

That leaves no real options for death penalty opponents other than hoping a pharmaceutical company protests the state using one of its drugs in court. None have so far. State officials have refused to identify their supplier and appealed a judge's order to release records that would reveal their source.

Nebraska previously relied on a three-drug combination to render the inmate unconscious, induce paralysis and stop the heart. But the protocol was never used in an execution, and after years of failing to acquire 1 of the drugs, sodium thiopental, Nebraska prison officials changed their rules to let the state corrections director choose which chemicals to use.

The new protocol calls for an initial IV dose of diazepam, commonly known as Valium, to render the inmate unconscious; the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl; cisatracurium besylate to induce paralysis and stop the inmate from breathing; and potassium chloride to stop the heart. After each injection, prison officials send saline through the IV to flush out any residue and ensure all the drugs have entered the inmate's system.

Diazepam, fentanyl and cisatracurium have never been used in executions before. Fentanyl, the prescription painkiller, is at the center of the nation's opioid crisis. A fentanyl overdose killed music superstar Prince in 2016.

Diazepam is a sleep aid, muscle relaxant and a medicine that helps fight anxiety and seizures. Cisatracurium is commonly used to ensure patients remain still in operating rooms and requires them to be connected to a breathing machine.

Potassium chloride is used in small doses for medical patients with low blood potassium, but in large doses it can trigger a heart attack. The combined drugs would likely take 5 to 10 minutes at most to work, said Dr. Peter Rice, a clinical pharmacy professor at the University of Colorado.

It's unclear how the drugs might work in combination, and no one knows whether the dosages will do the job "in a way that isn't tortuous," said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

The protocol "seems to be based more on expediency and what drugs the states believe they can get their hands on at any given time," Dunham said.

A corrections department spokeswoman did not return phone messages and an email seeking comment. Nebraska's protocol requires all members of the execution team to train at least weekly before an execution.

The dosages prescribed appear large enough to work as intended, but prison officials still face potential complications given the new protocol and the state's lack of recent experience in carrying out executions, said Dr. Jonathan Groner, a lethal injection expert and surgeon who teaches at Ohio State University.

Because the person administering the drugs won't be standing next to the inmate, Groner said it will be difficult to tell whether the drugs are flowing correctly through the IV tube and into his veins instead of surrounding tissue, where they wouldn't be properly absorbed.

Groner said a long delay in administering all the drugs could also give the fentanyl time to wear off, which would expose the inmate to an intense, burning pain, possibly while paralyzed.

"When you're having surgery, you get a high-dose burst followed by a continuous infusion," Groner said. "If the other drugs aren't given in rapid succession, things could go awry pretty quickly."

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

Suspect in Sydney Loofe's slaying files death penalty challenge

1 of 2 people accused of killing a Lincoln woman, dismembering her and dumping her remains in a southeast Nebraska field is challenging the state's death penalty.

Last Wednesday state prosecutors cited the slaying's "exceptional depravity" in a filing regarding the state's intentions toward 24-year-old Bailey Boswell. Court records say Boswell and 51-year-old Aubrey Trail are charged with 1st-degree murder. Prosecutors allege Trail strangled Sydney Loofe and Boswell helped Trail cut up Loofe's body and stuff the remains into trash bags. The remains were found Dec. 4 in Clay County, weeks after Loofe was reported missing.

Boswell's motion filed Friday says the state's sentencing procedure in death penalty cases is unconstitutional for several reasons. A judge has set a Sept. 17 hearing on her challenge.

Saline County District Court records show Trail hasn't filed a similar motion.

(source for all: Associated Press)

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

Lawyer for condemned inmate Carey Dean Moore wants off the case just days before execution

The lawyer for Carey Dean Moore has asked to withdraw from representing the condemned inmate 9 days before Nebraska's 1st execution in 21 years.

Jeff Pickens, director of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, filed the 9-page motion Monday with the Nebraska Supreme Court. He cites a conflict of interest in being assigned to represent a man who wants to be the 1st inmate executed by lethal injection in Nebraska.

"Moore has directed the commission to do nothing. Thus, the commission is conflicted between its duty to abide by Moore's directives and its duty to provide competent representation," Pickens said in his motion.

Pickens argues that he cannot legally challenge the state's efforts to carry out the Aug. 14 lethal injection while at the same time abiding by his client's desire to be executed. Pickens cited several legal challenges he could file if Moore would allow him to do so, including an attack on the untried 4-drug protocol the state intends to use in the execution.

Attorney General Doug Peterson has asked that the execution be carried out before 1 of the state's lethal injection drugs expires at the end of August.

Earlier this year, the Nebraska Supreme Court ordered the commission to represent Moore, despite the fact that Moore made it clear he did not want legal representation.

The Supreme Court could deny the motion quickly without delaying the execution. Or it could grant the motion, which means Moore would not be legally represented when he is executed.

One other option: The court could delay the execution to provide additional time to decide the motion now before it.

"This court's order denying Moore's motion to dismiss counsel with his execution looming seemingly means the court believes Moore must have counsel. The commission takes this court's order seriously, but now finds itself unable to fulfill the court's order and its ethical obligations in a consistent manner," Pickens stated in the motion.

Moore, 60, has spent 38 years on death row for the 1979 slayings of Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland. Nebraska's last execution took place in 1997, when the method was the electric chair.

(source: Omaha World-Herald)

NEVADA:

Louisiana, 14 other states side with Nevada in drugmaker delay of execution----Republican attorneys general filed documents arguing that drug company Alvogen's claims are a part of a "guerrilla war against the death penalty."

15 states are siding with Nevada as it fights drug companies battling the use of their products in an inmate's execution.

Republican attorneys general from 15 states filed documents Monday with the Nevada Supreme Court arguing that drug company Alvogen's claims are a part of a "guerrilla war against the death penalty."

The attorneys general represent Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has asked the state's high court to quickly review the matter so convicted killer Scott Raymond Dozier's twice-postponed lethal injection can be put back on track for mid-November.

A judge blocked Dozier's execution hours before it was scheduled in July so she could hear Alvogen's claims that Nevada improperly obtained its sedative midazolam. A 2nd drugmaker has joined the case.

(source: Associated Press)

USA:

US remains an outlier on executions

In 1988, Walter McMillian was convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to death, charged with the 1986 murder of Ronda Morrison in my hometown of Monroeville, Ala. McMillian was a poor black man, so local authorities found it relatively easy to dragoon him for the murder of a young white woman, despite the testimony of multiple witnesses who said he was elsewhere when Morrison was killed.

McMillian caught a break, though. His case was taken up by a highly skilled and dedicated defense attorney named Bryan Stevenson, and he was eventually exonerated. Others have not been so lucky.

In 2014, a group of researchers released a study suggesting that 4 % of the people sentenced to death are, in fact, innocent. Reviewing 7,482 death sentences handed down between 1973 and 2003, the researchers noted that 117 people - or 1.6 % - had been exonerated. (According to the Death Penalty Information Center, more than 162 people have now been exonerated.) But they concluded that, given enough time, another 4.1 % - more than 200 people - would be cleared.

That's chilling, since some of those innocent people have undoubtedly been put to death. It means that states across the nation are guilty of murder.

Condemning the innocent is the most glaring problem with the death penalty, but it's by no means the only problem. It is unfairly administered, brim-full of biases around race and class. It does not deter crime. It makes a mockery of justice.

In deciding to place the Catholic Church in clear opposition to capital punishment, Pope Francis may have pondered those glaring flaws. But he did not say so. Instead, he spoke of its inhumanity. "There is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes," according to the Vatican's statement, released earlier this week.

Pope Francis has long opposed the death penalty. (And the Catholic Church has long been skeptical of it.) In a landmark address to Congress in 2015, he called for its abolition. "I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes," he said then.

But the pope's decision to label the death penalty "inadmissible" in all cases probably won't have much practical effect on the practice. Few countries still use it. The United States is among the rare Western democracies that do.

Here in the United States, unfortunately, support for the death penalty is creeping back up after 2 decades of decline. According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in April and May, just over 1/2 of Americans support capital punishment.

But it remains very popular here in my native South. Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas are among those with the highest rates of executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Perhaps it won't surprise you to know that 42 % of those on death row across the country are black, even though black Americans constitute less than 13 % of the nation's population.

That's just one of the ways in which capital punishment shows its bias.

Even more striking is the statistical difference you notice when you look at the race of victims: If you consider all the murder cases which result in a sentence of death, 75 % of the victims are white, though whites account for just 50 % of murder victims overall, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Only 15 % of the victims are black. What does that tell you about the way the criminal justice system values black lives?

Pope Francis didn't mention any of that. Nor did he need to. He was explicit in his view that the death penalty is unjust and inhumane, and that's obvious from the evidence.

(source: Cynthia Tucker, Times Union)

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

In Bad Company on the Death Penalty

To the Editor:

Re "Pope Declares Death Penalty Always Wrong" (front page, Aug. 3):

American Catholics have been put on notice by Pope Francis' declaration regarding the death penalty. The article points out that "a majority of the world's countries - including nearly every nation in Europe and Latin America, regions that are home to large Catholic populations - have already banned the death penalty."

The United States is on a list of countries that execute their citizens, including China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

Another Catholic, my dearly departed mother, used to caution me to "beware the company you keep."

John Carbone

Louisville, Ky.

(source: Letter to the Editor, New York Times)

UNITED KINGDOM:

'JIHADI JOHN'S MY FRIEND' -- ISIS 'Beatles' smirk as they defend Brit executioner who beheaded captives David Haines and Alan Henning----Alleged 'Beatles' members El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are calling for their trial to take place in Britain in an attempt to dodge a potential death penalty in the US

2 alleged surviving members of the evil ISIS execution cell known as the Beatles last night smirked as they described warped killer Jihadi John as their "friend".

El Shafee Elsheikh, 29, and Alexanda Kotey, 34, were captured in Syria in January after ISIS fled its former self-styled capital Raqqa.

They are being held in the US and are fighting to dodge a potential death penalty by being extradited back to Britain.

Kotey, a London-born former drug dealer whose wife and 2 children remain in the UK, said he was aware his alleged accomplice Mohammed Emwazi had been nicknamed "Jidahi John".

But the smirking suspected terrorist added: "He's a friend of mine."

Emwazi, killed in a drone strike in 2015, became the face of Islamic State's depraved campaign of terror after the beheadings of aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning were broadcast.

(source: thesun.co.uk)

INDIA:

Bhopal: Court convicts rapist with capital punishment in just 26 days

Court of Chattarpur district has convicted a rapist with capital punishment, on Monday. The Court has completed the hearing and announced the verdict in just 26 days. Advocate Lakhan Rajput informed that on April 24, around 11.30 pm a woman reported the matter to the Chattarpur police that Mohammad Tohid had raped her 2 year old daughter at her home.

The mother had come out to handover something to her brother in-law at around 11 pm. However, they heard her daughter cries she was chatting with him. On reaching home she found that the girl was in pool of blood and the accused was standing near girl.

They filed a complaint on the basis of which the police registered a case under section 376,450 of PSOCO act and arrest the culprit. SP Veent Khanna formed a special team to investigate the crime. Importantly the forensic evidences produced by the police provided crucial support to the Court to sentence him with capital punishment.

(source: The Free Press Journal)

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

Teenager gets death penalty for raping 3-year-old in MP

A local court today awarded the death sentence to a teenager for raping a 3-year-old girl.

Chhatarpur Additional Sessions Judge Naurin Nigam awarded capital punishment to Tauheed Musalman, 19, after convicting him under section 376 (A)(B) of the recently-introduced Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2018, said district prosecution officer S K Chaturvedi.

He said on April 24, the culprit was caught raping the victim after he had sneaked into her house while the child's mother was talking to her brother-in-law outside.

The child's mother found her in a pool of blood and Musalman was nabbed by the people and handed over to the police, Chaturvedi said.

(source: indiatoday.com)

MALDIVES:

Bobby's murder: State requests Supreme Court to uphold death sentence on minor

The State has requested the Supreme Court to uphold the death sentence on a minor who was found guilty in the murder of Abdul Muheeth (Bobby).

Bobby died in a brutal assault in an alley in front the finance ministry in 2012.

6 suspects were charged, out of which 3 were minors. While 2 of the minors were found guilty, 1 was exonerated. The other suspects are still being tried at the Criminal Court.

The Supreme Court on Monday began appeal hearings on the death penalty imposed on one of the convicts, who was a minor at the time of committing the crime but is now above 18 years of age.

The verdict was appealed due to reasonable doubt in his guilt, but the State requested that the Supreme Court uphold the death penalty imposed by the lower court and upheld by the High Court. The State also requested that if the court finds him not guilty of murder, to find him guilty of being an accomplice and sentence him to 25 years in prison.

At Monday's appeal hearing, the defense said that an unreliable witness who was convicted over a drug-related crime, was one of the three witnesses who testified in the trial. The defense said that drug users are Fasiqs (people who violate Islamic law) and so their testimonies cannot be legitimate in court.

The trial documents also show that after the witness give his secret testimony at the Civil Court, he later retracted it in a letter. In response, the state prosecutor said that the police confirmed at the High Court appeal hearings that he was threatened into sending the letter and so his testimony still stands.

Testimonies of the other 2 witnesses and the other evidences show that the 2 minors were involved in the assault. The State had provided CCTV footage and phone call recordings of the suspects at the initial trial, as well as evidence showing that some of the accused injured in the assault sought treatment at ADK Hospital.

The minor, who is under the custody of the correctional service, was questioned after being summoned to Monday's hearing. After the judge asked him if he has a criminal record, he said that he has been found guilty of assault but that he has never met the victim, Bobby.

10 assailants were allegedly involved in Bobby's assault on 18 February 2012. He was stabbed 20 times and the brutality of the attack had also split the victim's skull.

(source: raajje.mv)

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

Maldives pres reiterates 'commitment' to capital punishment

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Tuesday reiterated his government's commitment to enforcing the death penalty in the Maldives.

Since taking office in 2013, president Yameen has been pushing to enforce the death penalty after ending the de facto moratorium that has been in place in the country for over 6 decades.

In June 2016, capital punishment regulations were amended to allow for hanging in addition to lethal injections as methods of execution.

President Yameen has since been giving several dates to begin capital punishment, last of which was nearly a year ago.

Speaking after inaugurating a shore protection project Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Madaveli island on Tuesday, president Yameen said his government would begin capital punishment after the 'procedural requirements' are completed.

President Yameen said his government's foreign policy has come under criticism only because of efforts to protect the country's sovereignty and Islamic principles and values.

"Some people are finding it difficult to accept my foreign policy because my government has striven to stand up for itself. Because my government is trying to protect our sovereignty and Islamic principles and values. Don't challenge me. My government will enforce the death penalty. Do not doubt it," he stressed.

There are currently 3 convicts on death row in the Maldives. They are Hussain Humam convicted of murdering Dr Afrasheem Ali, Ahmed Murrath convicted of murdering Ahmed Najeeb and Mohamed Nabeel convicted of murdering Abdulla Farhad.

(source: avas.mv)

NIGERIA:

Why FG, states may not execute 2,359 death row inmates

There are indications that the recent directive by the Federal Government to state governors to take action on the 2,359 death row inmates may not lead to their executions.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), had at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on July 19, asked the 36 state governors to act in line with Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution on the number of inmates sentenced to death as a means of decongesting prisons, which have about 73,631 inmates nationwide.

The Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, said the advice by the AGF centred on a review of the situation of the death row inmates using available legal options such as prerogative of mercy or remitting the sentences and not necessarily executing them.

He said during the nationwide tour as part of the prison decongestion directive of the president, the AGF found that some governors were very reluctant to act on the death row prison inmates either due to religious, social or other reasons, while others were taken to states other than where they were sentenced.

He said this category of inmates were constituting security risk at prisons by committing crimes right in the prisons.

"Since the governors were not forthcoming for reasons best known to them, the AGF now presented a memo before the National Economic Council that they should review and also suggested other avenues, since the people have been in detention for many years without anything being done about them," he said.

"He only made suggestions about maybe those who have been transferred to other states, that maybe they should bring them back so that the governors can take absolute control of the powers conferred by the law or maybe they can review them by way of prerogative of mercy, remitting the death sentence, and not going ahead to execute them," he said.

Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides for the death sentence. Also, offences of murder, treason, treachery, and armed robbery are punishable with death. The applicable sections are Section 221 of the Penal Code and Section 319 of the Criminal Code.

However, state governors under Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution have the prerogative of mercy under the advice of the State Advisory Council to review or commute the death sentence to other forms of punishment.

Meanwhile, several human rights organisations had criticised the advice to the state governors on the death row inmates.

The Executive Director of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), Sylvester Uhaa, said it was worrisome that the country was planning the executions as a way of reducing the prison population in the country, noting that they constitute only two percent of the prison population.

Also speaking, the director of Avocats Sans Frontiere France (ASFF) otherwise known as Lawyers Without Borders, Angela Uwandu, advised the Federal Government to adopt the existing international moratorium on death sentence as a way of showing that it has "respect for the sanctity of human lives."

The Executive Director of Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Dr Uju Agomoh, suggested the use of other forms of punishment and the adoption of the pre-trial reforms in the Act on Criminal Justice Administration, which provides for non-custodial measures like community service, probation and parole as means of decongesting prisons.

"This cannot be the way to decongest our prisons. The high proportion of persons who are in prison is actually attributable to pre-trail detainees. If anybody in Nigeria wants to decongest the prison, the first place to look at is the number of persons in pre-trial detention as well as reducing the duration spent in pre-trial detention, so we need to encourage speedy trial," Agomoh said.

The senior special assistant to the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Lambert Opara, said although Section 33(1) of the Constitution provides for the death sentence, there is need for "constitutional amendment to remove the death penalty in our statute books."

However, the Executive Director of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the death penalty remains part of Nigerian laws and advocated the amendment of the law especially, to include death penalty for terrorism-related offences involving death of persons.

"The constitution recognises capital punishment and since we operate on the basis of the constitution and the person sentenced has the opportunity to appeal the judgment to the Supreme Court, I don't see anything wrong with carrying out the executions," he said.

(source: dailytrust.com.ng)

PHILIPPINES:

Pacquiao told to 'do research,' stop misleading public on death penalty

Senator Manny Pacquiao is misleading the public on death penalty with his wrong interpretation of the Bible, an official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Tuesday.

Pacquiao, a champion boxer and born-again pastor, said last week that he is pushing Senate to approve the reimposition of death penalty before the year ends. Capital punishment, he said, is acceptable since it is in the Bible.

The lawmaker stands on a "wrong interpretation of the Bible," said Rodolfo Diamante, Executive Secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care.

"He is actually misleading the public on his own understanding of the scriptural passage. This is what is dangerous," Diamante said as quoted by CBCP News.

The Catholic Church recently updated its catechism, declaring death penalty as "inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person."

After Pope Francis' declaration, CBCP says 'no reason' to justify death penalty

Pacquiao, who leads discussions on the death penalty at the Senate justice committee, should direct his staff "to do some solid research before sharing his thoughts on any issue," said Diamante.

"Furthermore, he was elected by the people to protect and improve the quality of life of people and not to extinguish it," he added.

SENATOR STEADFAST ON DEATH PENALTY

Pacquiao maintained that the government has a God-given authority to impose death penalty, citing the Romans 13 verses 1 to 7 in the Bible.

Part of this passage reads: "For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."

The "sword" in this passage, Pacquiao said, connotes beheading.

The House of Representatives last year approved a bill reimposing the death penalty, but only for drug-related offenses.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace will "try gentle persuasion" on the senators so they would pass the bill.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been hoping to reinstate the death penalty in the Philippines, where nearly 80 percent of its population is made up of Catholics, as he wages his war on illegal drugs and pursues an anti-crime campaign.

(source: abs-cbn.com)

IRAN:

6 Death-Row Prisoners Transferred to the Solitary Confinement for Execution

At least 6 prisoners most of whom were charged with murder were transferred to the solitary confinement of Rajai Shahr Prison.

According to a close source, on the morning of Sunday, August 5, at least 6 prisoners were transferred to the solitary confinement of Rajai Shahr Prison. The prisoners, most of whom were sentenced to death on murder charges, will be executed on Wednesday unless they win the consent of the plaintiffs or ask for time.

2 of the prisoners are identified as Saman Yamini and Sasan Yamini from ward 1 of the prison.

The identity of the other prisoners and the exact number of them is not known yet.

According to confirmed reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR), at least 36 people were executed in different Iranian cities in the month of July, 24 of whom were sentenced to death on murder charges.

(source: Iran Human Rights)

TURKEY:

Main opposition CHP says will not stand behind death penalty

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) parliamentary group leader on Monday said the party stands opposed to the death penalty amid ongoing speculation that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will be introducing the punishment to Turkey's parliament in the upcoming months, secular Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Leader of the Great Unity Party (BBP) Mustafa Destici on Monday suggested a proposal to reinstate the death penalty for offences such as murder, treason and sexual offences against children would be brought to parliament in October. Destici hinted a referendum could be held on the death penalty, which Turkey abolished in 2004.

The matter will be discussed in detail in Turkish parliament, CHP's Ozgur Ozel said, should a 200-signature bill be presented in parliament, adding the CHP is opposed to death penalty in terms of legal norms and universal developments on human rights.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last week vowed to sign off on the death penalty if parliament passed.

(source: ahvalnews.com)

JAPAN:

NHK poll: 58% back death penalty

More than 1/2 of respondents to an NHK survey said Japan should maintain the death penalty.

The telephone survey conducted over the weekend followed the recent executions of all 13 death row inmates linked to the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo. Over 1,200 people responded.

58 % of respondents said Japan should keep the death penalty, while 7 % said the country should abolish it. And 29 % were undecided.

(source: nhk.or.jp)

AUGUST 6, 2018:

PENNSYLVANIA:

District Attorney seeks death penalty against DJ in 1992 killing of school teacher

The Lancaster County District Attorney plans to seek the death penalty against the Pennsylvania man charged in connection with the 1992 sexual assault and strangulation of an elementary school teacher, according to reports from LancasterOnline.

Raymond Rowe, 49, is facing charges of criminal homicide, 4 counts of rape, 2 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and burglary for the death of 25-year-old Christy Mirack.

The charges come decades after she was killed, but police were unable to identify Rowe as a suspect until they uncovered genealogical data.

Now, prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty against Rowe, who is a professional DJ known as "DJ Freez."

(source: York Daily Record)

OHIO:

Kirkland sentencing will wrap up today

After 2 weeks of testimony, convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland's sentencing is expected to wrap up Monday with closing arguments.

Jurors will be sequestered while they consider whether to recommend the death penalty for Kirkland, 49, for the deaths of Casonya Crawford, 14, in 2006 and Esme Kenney, 13, in 2009.

He strangled and burned the victims.

The Ohio Supreme Court overturned a death sentence last year that had been imposed for the murders. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is seeking it again.

On Friday, on Kirkland stood at his sentencing hearing and in a calm and steady voice, asked jurors to spare his life.

Though, he said, he'd understand if they recommended the death penalty for strangling, burning and dumping the bodies of the 2 teenage girls.

"It has been stated that I am evil; it has been stated I am a monster," he said. "I cannot offer any justifiable response. I am not looking for absolution. Eventually, I will answer to a higher authority. I do not blame you if you kill me. I do not deserve to live. Please spare my life."

Kirkland killed 2 women and 2 teenage girls - Casonya; Mary Jo Newton, 45; Kimya Rolison, 25 and Esme - between 2006 and 2009. Those 4 deaths came after Kirkland served a 16-year prison sentence for killing Leona Douglas, 28, in 1989.

In each case, Kirkland strangled or stabbed his victims, burned the bodies and fled. He was caught after Esme's death and confessed.

Kirkland is serving a life prison term for the deaths of Newton and Rolison.

Kirkland's defense team presented a case that showed Kirkland suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by a childhood of mental, physical and sexual abuse. At times, a clinical psychologist testified, Kirkland didn't know what he was doing.

The victims, she said, triggered anger and he couldn't help himself.

(source: cincinnati.com)

TENNESSEE:

"Our Most Cruel Experiment Yet"----Chilling Testimony in a Tennessee Trial Exposes Lethal Injection as Court-Sanctioned Torture

Julie Hall smiled on the witness stand as she recalled a memory of her old client Joseph Wood. He had spent most of the last 2 decades living in solitary confinement, with his recreation confined to a cage, when the Arizona Department of Corrections began to loosen some restrictions over people on death row. A basketball court was built outside his unit on the sprawling desert prison complex in Florence, about an hour south of Phoenix. At 55, Wood was relatively healthy - "he loved going out and playing," Hall said. A prison sergeant even played a round of basketball with Wood, which meant a lot. "He felt like he was being treated like he was human for the 1st time in a long time."

Hall's smile disappeared when she described the day Wood died. It was July 23, 2014. His execution was scheduled for 10 a.m. Hall arrived at the prison that morning at 6:45, then waited almost an hour to see him. When the Arizona Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution, Hall told him the good news. Wood was prepared to die, she told the court; ever since he committed the murders that sent him to death row, he had felt he did not deserve to live. Still, "he wanted someone to listen to us when we said that this was an experimental method of execution."

Wood was the 1st to face a new form of lethal injection in Arizona that used a combination of the opioid hydromorphone and the sedative midazolam. The latter had raised controversy over its use in executions. Florida first tried it in 2013 to kill a man named William Happ "in what seemed like a labored process," according to one media witness. Happ "remained conscious longer and made more body movements after losing consciousness" than people executed under the old formula, according to another report. The Florida Department of Correction, which refused to say how it chose the drug, dismissed the concerns - and soon other states were trying out midazolam. In January 2014, Ohio used it to execute Dennis McGuire. Witnesses described how he struggled and gasped, clenching his fists and striving to breath. A few months later, in April 2014, Oklahoma used midazolam to kill Clayton Lockett in one of the most notorious botched executions in recent memory.

But Arizona stuck to the plan. By noon that day, Wood's stay of execution had been lifted. Prison staff provided Hall with a pencil and paper and led her to the witness chamber. No phones were allowed. Once inside, she was told, she would be forbidden from leaving the room. Hall watched as a pair of TV monitors were turned on above the closed curtains. "That's where we could view the insertion of the IV lines," she explained. Hall was surprised at the amount of blood she saw - some of it dripped onto the floor. With the IVs eventually placed, the monitors went dark. The curtains opened. Wood lay strapped to the gurney, thick straps over his arms and a white sheet covering his legs.

After 20 minutes and 134 gasps, she stopped counting.

At 1:52 p.m., a voice came over the loudspeaker. The lethal injection was about to start.

After 5 minutes, with the 1st dose of midazolam presumably administered, a man entered to conduct a consciousness check on Wood. The voice came back to announce he was sedated. But 3 minutes later, Hall said, "I saw a quiver in his cheek, which surprised me a little." She didn't know whether it was normal or not. It was 2 minutes after that when she saw Wood gasp for air. Then he did it again. And again.

"He just kept gasping," Hall said. She began counting the gasps on her notepad. After 20 minutes and 134 gasps, she stopped counting. "I just didn't know what the point was anymore." Hall struggled to describe what it looked like. It reminded her of a fish that was dying after being pulled from the water - "that opening of the mouth; trying to get air and just not getting it."

At 2:50 p.m., Dale Baich, supervising attorney of the Arizona Federal Public Defender's Capital Habeas Unit, who was seated behind Hall, passed her a note. "Go now," it said, instructing her to call their colleagues in Phoenix. Hall hurried out of the witness room and asked a guard if she could use his phone. He refused, then escorted her outside of the death house, through a maze of sally ports and checkpoints, and finally, out to the administration building. It took nine minutes. Only then was Hall able to make a call, to tell someone that "something was going very, very wrong and it looked like Mr. Wood was suffering."

Hall was still on the phone when Wood was finally declared dead at 3:53 p.m. The next day, media witness Michael Kiefer published his own account of Wood's struggle to breathe. Over the 2-hour execution, he reported, Wood gasped more than 640 times.

Hall told her story in fits and starts, answering questions in a courtroom in Nashville, Tennessee. It was July 9, 2018, day one of Abu Ali Abdur'Rahman v. Tony Parker, a trial over Tennessee's lethal injection protocol. Parker is the head of the Tennessee Department of Correction, or TDOC. The named plaintiff is 1 of 33 men facing execution under a new formula that includes midazolam. 3 have been scheduled to die by the end of the year. 1 of them, Billy Ray Irick, is set for execution on August 9.

Hall was 1 of more than 20 witnesses called by the plaintiffs, including some dozen defense attorneys who had witnessed their clients' executions. They dramatized what lawyers argued in their trial brief: that Tennessee's new protocol violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. First issued in January, it called for the injection of 3 drugs: midazolam, followed by a paralytic called vecuronium bromide, and culminating with potassium chloride to stop the heart. With midazolam chosen to provide anesthesia, the attorneys argued it was not only possible but very likely their clients would suffer. What's more, they said, the protocol prevents defense attorneys from having access to a phone during the execution, in violation of their clients' constitutional rights.

The inescapable conclusion was that states have almost certainly been torturing people to death in their execution chambers.

The witnesses described executions in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and Oklahoma. Many had never spoken publicly. Their accounts ranged from subtle but unusual movement on the gurney to gasping, lurching, and clenching of fists. They were bolstered by leading medical experts who explained the scientific reasons why midazolam was inadequate to provide anesthesia.

One pathologist presented evidence that had never been shown in court. He had reviewed 27 autopsy reports out of the 32 total executions carried out using midazolam. In most of the cases, he found signs of pulmonary edema - fluid in the lungs that indicated the men had been in respiratory distress. The inescapable conclusion was that states have almost certainly been torturing people to death in their execution chambers - and that Tennessee might be ready to do the same.

After weeks of testimony, a ruling came quickly, on July 26. It sided with the state. In her order upholding Tennessee's lethal injection protocol, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle wrote that the plaintiffs had failed to prove their case, while acknowledging that the use of midazolam might leave them vulnerable to pain during their execution. The U.S. Supreme Court was "aware of the risk of midazolam," she wrote, and upheld it anyway in Glossip v. Gross. Though "dreadful and grim, it is the law that while surgeries should be pain-free, there is no constitutional requirement for that with executions."

For anyone who has followed the legal evolution of lethal injection, Lyle's ruling was not a surprise. The decision ultimately turned not on midazolam, but on a different provision of Glossip. Under the ruling, the plaintiffs had to prove not only that Tennessee's protocol was cruel and unusual, but that there was a viable alternative. In her dissent in Glossip, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor decried this "surreal requirement," one that puts attorneys in the perverse position of identifying methods that should be used to kill their clients. Though Lyle conceded that this law "seems odd," the requirement was clear. "That proof has not been provided in this case."

Decisions in chancery court have limited sway. Under Tennessee's Declaratory Judgment Act, Lyle's ruling amounts to a "declaration" - an opinion that can only be weaponized by bringing it to a different forum. Most lethal injection challenges are brought before federal courts that have the power to stop executions. Lyle did not. In bringing the lawsuit in chancery court, Federal Public Defender Kelley Henry hoped to win a ruling that could influence the state Supreme Court or governor to intervene.

Yet the order belies the significance of the trial itself. As Henry said in her closing argument on July 24, it was the 1st time a 3-drug protocol using midazolam had been the subject of a "real trial." Until now, most hearings on midazolam were on whether to grant a preliminary injunction to stop a looming execution. Such hearings are rushed by their nature - witnesses often appear by Skype. This was not the case in Nashville. Though the trial moved quickly, the testimony was extensive and nuanced, providing a much fuller picture of the science behind the drugs used in lethal injection. Lyle was deliberate and measured - and cautious not to allow witnesses to testify beyond their expertise.

The questionable analysis of expert witnesses has had major consequences where lethal injection is concerned. At the preliminary injunction hearing that paved the way for Glossip, Alabama-based pharmacist Dr. Roswell Lee Evans peddled opinions divorced from scientific reality. Among his claims was that 500 milligrams of midazolam - the same dose as in the Tennessee protocol - would render someone unconscious to the point that they would not feel pain. Anesthesiologists adamantly disagreed. In an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, 16 professors of pharmacology cited the "overwhelming scientific consensus" that midazolam was incapable of inducing the "deep comalike unconsciousness" called for in lethal injection. On the eve of oral arguments in Glossip, the case was embroiled in controversy over the revelation that Evans had relied on sources like the website Drugs.com.

"Those states that have experimented with this drug have seen firsthand that it is a failure."

There is "no debate around midazolam," anesthesiologist Dr. David Lubarsky told the court in Nashville. Among such experts, Evans has no credibility. But among prosecutors intent on carrying out executions, Evans remains a useful and willing witness, "recognized by numerous state and federal courts," as Deputy Attorney General Scott Sutherland told the court. If anyone lacked credibility, he suggested, it was the "highly biased" defense attorneys who watched their clients' executions, he said, quoting a 6th Circuit ruling over Ohio's lethal injection protocol. As a more authoritative source, Sutherland offered the official department of correction records from 19 executions carried out using midazolam in Arkansas, Florida, and Ohio. Many of them were described as problematic, but these records showed everything had gone fine, he said.

Yet states have already begun shifting away from midazolam. After a drawn-out legal battle following Wood's death, Arizona agreed in 2016 to "never again use midazolam, or any other benzodiazepine" for lethal injection. "Those states that have experimented with this drug have seen firsthand that it is a failure," Henry said. If Tennessee learns this lesson the hard way on August 9, it will not be for lack of warning. The trial in Nashville was a case study in Glossip's twisted legacy - and a chilling look at the botched executions that continue amid little national controversy. If the death penalty is making a mockery of the Eighth Amendment, it is at least because not enough people are paying attention. In the words of the Supreme Court, "It is difficult to regard a practice as 'objectively intolerable' when it is in fact widely tolerated."

Davidson County Chancery Court is located inside Nashville's Metropolitan Courthouse, steps from where the Cumberland River cuts through town. The historic art deco building is anchored by Public Square Park, home to festivals, concerts, and the occasional protest. A few days a week over the course of the lethal injection trial, food trucks lined the southwest corner, where the Nashville Downtown Partnership hosted something called "Adult Recess": whimsical lawn games like oversized checkers.

In her opening statement on the morning of July 9, Henry acknowledged the strange task at hand. "When we talk over and over and over again about ways in which to inject our clients with chemicals, it can become numbing," she said. But the state has chosen a method of execution that is akin to being burned alive, she said. It's easy to dismiss such descriptions - "Oh, those are just the words of those anti-death penalty people. That's not real." But, she went on, "the medical proof will show those words are not hyperbole."

Henry was accompanied by 8 other lawyers representing men on death row. Several of the cases date back decades, to an era when the execution chamber lay dormant in Tennessee. Henry arrived in Nashville in 2000, one month before the state carried out its 1st execution in 40 years. 6 have been carried out since. In the meantime, like many death penalty states, Tennessee has changed its protocol repeatedly and haphazardly.

It wasn't always that way. When the U.S. Supreme Court took up the precursor to Glossip - Baze v. Rees - many assumed that the questions over lethal injection would soon be settled. In its 2008 ruling, the court upheld a prevailing 3-drug protocol that had been in use for decades. But the decision was followed by an unexpected sea change in lethal injection, which would throw the death penalty into chaos. The drug at the center of the ruling, sodium thiopental, became suddenly unavailable after its sole U.S. manufacturer stopped making it. As states sought new sources, many began altering their protocols, adopting new drugs based on what was obtainable and not necessarily what was most likely to work. After Glossip came down in 2015, midazolam became the new go-to replacement for sodium thiopental.

Speaking before the court, Henry explained why this was such a serious mistake. In Baze, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the 3-drug formula relied on an efficacious dose of sodium thiopental. Without it, the 2nd and 3rd drugs would cause extreme suffering, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, making an execution "constitutionally intolerable." Although the plaintiffs in Baze had argued there was too much room for error, the drug itself was at least designed to provide anesthesia. Midazolam was not. "Sodium thiopental is a barbiturate," Henry explained. "It is a completely different class of drug than midazolam."

Henry pushed back against the state's argument that the true effects of large quantities of midazolam are unknown since there have been no "human experiments" to collect data. "Unfortunately, we do have human experiments," she said. "We have 32 human experiments. Men who were executed using a protocol that involves midazolam."

Sutherland began by invoking the gruesome crimes for which the plaintiffs had been convicted. "These facts provide context for this court as to why we are here," he said.

With a low voice that was sometimes hard to hear, Sutherland wore a look of mild irritation - and the slightly casual air of a man who knows the law is on his side. He quoted Justice Samuel Alito's reasoning in Glossip: "Capital punishment in this country is constitutional, and it follows, necessarily, that there must be a constitutional means of carrying it out." The Constitution does not require a painless execution, Sutherland went on. It only prohibits the deliberate infliction of torture, such as disembowelment or being burned alive. What's more, "in the history of its existence," the court "has never invalidated a state's chosen method of execution as cruel and unusual punishment." As for midazolam, there was nothing new to discuss.

Sutherland seized on the main problem with the plaintiffs' lawsuit. They argued in favor of a 1-drug protocol using the barbiturate pentobarbital, a formula used by states like Texas. But they showed no proof that pentobarbital was available, he said. Instead, they argued that TDOC never made an effort to procure it. This was not true, Sutherland said, but regardless, "it's not our burden to prove that it's unavailable." The plaintiffs had to prove that it was.

Sutherland echoed the late Antonin Scalia's complaint during oral arguments in Glossip, blaming anti-death penalty activists for the drug shortage. There was truth to his claim - the human rights group Reprieve has waged a successful campaign over the past decade to convince drug companies to block the use of their products for execution. But the specter of overzealous anti-death penalty activists has also proven useful to states - a way to justify heightened secrecy around the procurement of execution drugs. Throughout the trial, the identities of the state's supplier and drug procurer were kept secret.

For all the blame heaped on activists and capital defense attorneys, the trial would reveal the recklessness and repeated mistakes shown by the state in its relatively short history with lethal injection. Henry called it a "timeline of indifference."

Tennessee first adopted lethal injection in 1998. With the state's execution machinery about to restart, lawmakers were concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court would strike down the electric chair on Eighth Amendment grounds. They proposed new legislation to get with the times, while making clear that they weren't trying to make things easier for the condemned. "We should draw and quarter those suckers who commit these heinous crimes, but that ain't constitutional," then-Rep. Chris Newton, the bill's House sponsor, said at the time.

To design a lethal injection protocol, TDOC put together a committee of prison officials to look at other states' methods. Ricky Bell, then-warden of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, where executions take place, went to Texas to see a lethal injection firsthand. The result was the same formula used across the country: a 3-drug cocktail, beginning with a fast-acting barbiturate, sodium thiopental, to provide anesthesia. This was followed by pancuronium bromide, a paralytic drug that froze the muscles used for respiration. Lastly, potassium chloride would stop the heart.

"It gave me the creeps. It is a classic sign of an anesthetized patient being awake."

The 3-drug formula was never particularly scientific. Invented by an Oklahoma medical examiner in 1977, the method was simply replicated from state to state. Decisions on doses were left to prison officials; in Texas, which 1st carried out lethal injection, the gurney was chosen to make it look antiseptic, like a medical procedure.

The 1st person killed by lethal injection in Tennessee was Robert Glen Coe in 2000. Media coverage was heavy, yet there was relatively little detail describing his death. A witness for the Associated Press reported that he briefly "convulsed and coughed," then lay still, but no one seemed concerned that anything had gone wrong. Under Tennessee law at the time, Coe's defense attorneys were not allowed to attend.

It was not long before questions began to be raised, however. In 2002, Abu Ali Abdur'Rahman challenged the state's execution protocol in chancery court. At the heart of the lawsuit was the second drug in the protocol, the paralytic pancuronium bromide, marketed under the name Pavulon. At an evidentiary hearing in 2003, 1 month before Abdur'Rahman's scheduled execution, his lawyers called Dr. Mark Heath, a professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University. Heath said he had begun studying lethal injection after the execution of Timothy McVeigh in 2001. The Oklahoma City bomber died with his eyes open, according to witnesses, some of whom described a tear welling up in his eye. "It gave me the creeps," Heath would later tell reporter Bruce Shapiro. "It is a classic sign of an anesthetized patient being awake."

On the stand in 2003, Heath explained that if the 1st drug in the protocol, sodium thiopental, was not adequately administered, the pancuronium bromide would cause suffocation while creating a "chemical mask," concealing any evidence of the excruciating burning pain that would result from the injection of the 3rd drug, potassium chloride. Lawyers called a woman named Carol Weihrer, who described her terror during eye surgery in 1998, when she woke up while under the effect of pancuronium bromide and was paralyzed, unable to alert her doctors.

Presiding over the 2003 hearing was Ellen Hobbs Lyle, the same judge who handed down the ruling last month. On June 1, 2003, Hobbs sided with the state, concluding that lawyers for the condemned had failed to prove that Tennessee's protocol was unconstitutional. But she was critical of the lack of research behind the protocol - and particularly pointed in criticizing Pavulon, "a drug outlawed in Tennessee for euthanasia of pets." It served no purpose except to give "a false impression of serenity to viewers, making punishment by death more palatable," she wrote. And if the anesthetic failed to work, she warned, the paralytic would hide the "excruciatingly painful ordeal of death by lethal injection."

By the time Tennessee carried out its next execution, killing Philip Workman in 2007, evidence had come to light to confirm what Heath had feared. The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, had published findings from a review of 49 executions across 4 states, showing evidence that many of the condemned had not been adequately anesthetized. Toxicology reports showed that concentrations of sodium thiopental in the blood of 43 of the men "were lower than that required for surgery," while 21 had "concentrations consistent with awareness." 1 of the co-authors of the study, Dr. David Lubarsky, later reviewed the autopsy report for Coe; in a front-page story in May 2006, The Tennessean summed up his conclusion: Coe was "probably awake and suffering silently."

Later that year, a Florida man named Angel Nieves Diaz died in a harrowing execution after IV lines sent drugs into his tissue rather than his veins. The following February, then-Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen halted 4 scheduled executions. A botched execution was "a governor's nightmare," he said. "How do you know that's not going to happen here?"

Bredesen announced a 90-day moratorium and the formation of a 5-member commission to revise Tennessee's lethal injection protocol. The current execution manual was a "cut-and-paste job," he said. An AP report revealed how its "minute-by-minute guidelines for lethal injection" included rules clearly written to apply to electrocutions, for example, the directive that staffers shave the head of the condemned, as well as the need to keep a fire extinguisher on hand.

The commission, made up of TDOC employees, proved to be little more than political theater, however. In April 2007, TDOC released its new protocol. Although it now included instructions on doses, it preserved the 3-drug formula, including the paralytic. At 1 a.m. on May 9, Workman died by lethal injection at Riverbend. "As a media witness at last night's execution, I can say it's true Workman showed no obvious signs of pain," Nashville Scene reporter Sarah Kelly wrote. "But even if he was in agony, he wouldn't have been able to move." A few months later, Tennessee carried out a 3rd execution - that of Daryl Holton. Given the choice between the gurney and the electric chair, he chose electrocution.

In September 2007, while the Supreme Court prepared to consider the writ of certiorari in Baze v. Rees, a U.S. District Court held a hearing on Tennessee's revised protocol. The 4-day proceeding was "filled with absurdities," according to the Nashville Scene. Testimony revealed that TDOC Commissioner George Little had actually rejected the advice of Bredesen's commission, which had recommended a single dose of a barbiturate to replace the 3-drug formula. On September 20, 2007, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger declared the protocol unconstitutional.

Just 5 days later, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Baze v. Rees. It would be the 1st time the court would consider the 3-drug method used for executions across the country. In April 2008, the justices upheld the protocol, 7 to 2. In light of Baze, Trauger vacated her previous decision.

It was not long afterward that states stopped being able to find sodium thiopental. Some sought new dubious sources, while others tinkered with their protocols. But there was a silver lining to the chaos. As they considered new methods, states began drifting away from the traditional 3-drug formula, eliminating the paralytic from many protocols. In 2013, after a supply of sodium thiopental was seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tennessee did what the commission had suggested years before, adopting a 1-drug protocol using pentobarbital. But after Glossip in 2015, states started going back to a 3-drug protocol, mimicking the old formula with something that was actually far more dangerous. Like many states, Tennessee is relying on an anonymous, unregulated compounding pharmacy for its supply of midazolam. As far as the paralytic, 15 years after Lyle first warned about its dangers, Tennessee has gone full circle.

On Friday, July 13, Riverbend Warden Tony Mays took the stand. After nearly a week of testimony about botched executions, it was a chance for the state to show that the situation would be in good hands. It didn't. Mays, named warden in 2017, seemed alarmingly ill-informed, unfamiliar with various details of the protocol and unable to answer what, if anything, he would do if problems arose.

Some of this was no fault of his own. With no warning to the plaintiffs, the state had issued a revised protocol on July 5, just days before the trial was about to start. Henry called it a "cynical ploy to gain litigation advantage." But it also created confusion for Mays, who was tasked with training his subordinates to carry out executions.

The next witness was the official who ultimately has to answer for such concerns: TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker. A lifelong employee of the state's prison system, Parker was named commissioner in 2016. The position made him responsible for selecting the state's lethal injection protocol. Presumably, Henry asked, this meant that he would want to know what other courts and officials had said about previous versions of Tennessee's lethal injection, correct? "I think I'd consider all the comments if I felt they were relevant," Parker said.

Henry walked Parker through some of the state's lethal injection milestones. Had he considered Lyle's concerns over Pavulon back in 2003? Parker said he did not know what Pavulon was. Henry showed him portions of the ruling, which established Pavulon as the paralytic agent. Parker said he had never seen the decision before. "I guess it would be more important to me if we were using Pavulon," he said. "But we're not." Would it be relevant if Pavulon was indistinguishable from the paralytic used in the protocol he chose? Henry asked as patiently as possible. "I would have to talk to a medical professional," Parker said. "I don't know any of that." Henry asked Parker if he knew the difference between sodium thiopental and midazolam. No, he said.

Parker's testimony was galling. But it was not entirely surprising. Parker had largely delegated his duties to his general counsel, Deputy Commissioner Debra Inglis, a veteran TDOC employee who was intimately acquainted with the state's lethal injection history. She was a member of Bredesen's 2007 commission that overhauled the execution manual. "Did Miss Inglis share with you that the committee's recommendation at the time was to abandon the 3-drug protocol in favor of a 1-drug protocol?" Henry asked Parker. "We never had that particular conversation," he said.

The email showed that the state had been warned by the source about the dangers of midazolam in the fall of 2017.

Inglis was the last state official to take the stand. Over more than 2 hours of testimony, she reiterated that Parker was the man in charge of selecting a lethal injection protocol. As for the move to adopt midazolam, she said, "it was his sole decision."

Questioning Inglis, criminal defense attorney Kathleen Morris asked about an email that had raised controversy earlier this year. Written by an anonymous entity referred to as Source B, who had been tasked with procuring drugs for executions by TDOC, it was revealed by the Nashville Scene through an open records request. The email showed that the state had been warned by the source about the dangers of midazolam in the fall of 2017. "Here is my concern with Midazolam," Source B wrote. "Being a benzodiazepine, it does not elicit strong analgesic effects. The subjects may be able to feel pain from the administration of the 2nd and 3rd drugs. Potassium chloride, especially." Not necessarily a "huge concern," the author added, but it could "open the door to some scrutiny on your end."

Morris asked Inglis if she had discussed the email with Parker. He was made aware of it, she said. But they did not discuss it.

If such warnings were not enough to convince Tennessee to reconsider its search for midazolam in 2017, the drug had attracted plenty of scrutiny that year. In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson had announced a plan to carry out 8 executions over the course of 11 days that April. The reason for the rush: The state's supply of midazolam was scheduled to expire at the end of the month.

Like Tennessee, Arkansas had not carried out an execution in years. It had never used midazolam. The planned execution spree threw attorneys into disarray. Only 4 executions ultimately went forward. Although there were some signs of trouble in the first 3, no one reported any dramatic scenes. But in the final execution, on April 27, Kenneth Williams died a disturbing death. Media witnesses at the prison described how Williams had lurched and gasped. A spokesperson for the governor immediately dismissed the movement as "involuntary."

He heard moaning, then "choking and coughing and heaving." The sounds were loud enough to hear through the wall.

Among the witnesses that night was Eric Patrick Motylinski, a Rhode Island attorney appointed to represent Williams. Taking the stand in Nashville, Motylinski described what he saw.

At 10:52 p.m., after giving his last statement, Williams began speaking in tongues, continuing after an announcement had been made that the lethal injection was about to begin. "His words kind of became slow and halting and they eventually stopped," Motylinski said. But then "I saw his chest kind of pumping and I could see his head kind of moving back and forth." He also appeared to be clenching his jaw. At 10:55 p.m., Motylinski heard moaning, then "choking and coughing and heaving." The audio to the witness chamber had been turned off, but the sounds were loud enough to hear through the wall. Williams began to convulse, Motylinski said. "He was rising up from the gurney repeatedly, rhythmically, and finally kind of hitting up against the straps." At 10:57 p.m., Motylinski decided to leave the witness chamber. The prison had agreed to allow him access to a phone. When he re-entered, Williams was lying still. He was declared dead at 11:05.

Motylinski's testimony was disturbing. But it was also instructive. Despite being unable to stop the apparent suffering of his client, he had been able to take action on his behalf relatively quickly. This was precisely what Tennessee denied attorneys in its protocol, Henry argued. In a deposition, Parker had suggested it might be possible to accommodate lawyers' requests for a phone to be available if needed. But Inglis did not support this. An attorney could go get their phone from their car.

Even when a state ostensibly allows for such safeguards, they are no guarantee. When Ohio defense attorney Carol Wright witnessed the 2017 execution of her client Gary Otte, who violently struggled on the gurney, she tried to leave the room only to be stopped by prison staff. "They blocked the door," she testified. "They said, 'Sit down.'" After she saw tears coming down Otte's face, she went to the door again. "And I said, 'Dear Lord.'" Only then was she given permission to leave and call a fellow federal defender, who phoned a federal court. Wright "is reporting that there were signs that Mr. Otte was conscious, crying, clenching of the hands, heaving at the stomach," the colleague told a federal judge, according to a transcript. But the judge declined to intervene. In a ruling 5 days later, he concluded that the description was not enough to show that Otte "was experiencing unconstitutionally severe pain."

Like all things involving prison, the witnesses' testimony revealed how arbitrary the different rules can be from state to state. In Alabama, lawyers were not even allowed to have writing materials during executions. Defense attorney Spencer Hahn described how he kept mental track of the duration of Ronald Bert Smith Jr.'s heaving and coughing during his 2017 execution by recording the start time in his mind and counting the minutes and seconds on his hands.

The point, of course, is to control the narrative. When Motylinski was shown an internal affairs report from Williams's execution in Arkansas, he said the notes "substantially minimize what I saw." There was no mention of the coughing or clenching of his jaw. It did not capture the violence of his convulsions, the way he hit against the straps. The state's official report was "sanitized almost to the point of being unrecognizable."

Cross-examining Motylinski, Sutherland asked only one question: Was that the 1st execution he had ever witnessed? Yes, Motylinski said. But other defense attorneys were asked a range of questions that were meant to show bias. Wasn't it true, Sutherland asked Dale Baich, that he once received an award from the abolitionist group Death Penalty Focus? Wasn't it true, Assistant Attorney General Rob Mitchell asked Julie Hall after her testimony about Wood's execution, that she exclusively represented clients in death penalty cases?

Cross-examining Assistant Federal Defender Leslie Smith, Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Davis asked how long she had represented her client before seeing him struggle on the gurney in Alabama. 14 or 15 years, Smith answered. Was she close to him? "Yes," Smith said. "He was my client and I cared about him."

On July 16, the plaintiffs called Dr. Mark Edgar, a diagnostic pathologist at Emory University. Edgar had reviewed all the available autopsies of people executed using midazolam across the country. Conducted by the local medical examiners in the counties where the men were executed, the documents ranged in their level of detail. Some states, like Ohio, don't conduct autopsies after executions at all.

But Edgar found some details that jumped out. "I was struck by the abnormality in the lungs," Edgar said. "All of the lungs were heavy with fluid." An average lung, he explained, would weigh about 350 to 400 grams. But the autopsies he studied showed lungs more than double that weight. What's more, most of the lungs showed signs of pulmonary edema - "evidenced by bubbles, froth and foam both in the lung tissue and in the larger airways."

Edgar had created a chart to compile his findings. He underlined the parts that indicated proof of pulmonary edema. In total, 23 of the 27 autopsy reports. Among them were the autopsies of Joseph Wood and Kenneth Williams. Wood's right lung weighed 980 grams, his left weighed 945. There were "marked amounts of blood and frothy fluid" indicating "acute pulmonary edema," Edgar said.

"As it gets even worse, they may have a sense of terror, panic, drowning, asphyxiation."

Assistant Federal Public Defender Amy Harwell asked Edgar to explain the symptoms of pulmonary edema. "When it begins, the patients are short of breath. They feel like they can't catch their breath and they breathe a little bit faster," he said. "As it gets worse, they may have a sense of air hunger and be gasping for air. As it gets even worse, they may have a sense of terror, panic, drowning, asphyxiation. It's a medical emergency and a stage of extreme discomfort." In a hospital setting, he explained, a patient would be given diuretics to remove fluid from the lungs. "Because they're in such a state of panic," they would also be given morphine, he added.

Edgar's testimony was supported by a renowned pharmacologist, Dr. David Greenblatt, the longtime head of the department of pharmacology and therapeutics at the Tufts University School of Medicine. Greenblatt was not only an expert in midazolam, he was responsible for some of the earliest studies of the drug, which were used by the Food and Drug Administration in its approval for clinical practice. Greenblatt explained why pulmonary edema might result from a large dose of midazolam. To be injected, midazolam has to be mixed with hydrochloric acid, which makes it water soluble. Once injected, it would go first to the heart and then to the lungs, whose capillary circulation is dependent on "a very thin and delicate membrane' that is "very sensitive to acid." A dose of 500 milligrams of midazolam would be destructive to the membrane, he explained, making it leaky. "So the lungs acquire fluid ... and that makes air exchange difficult if not impossible."

The testimony from Edgar and Greenblatt added a disturbing new dimension to the more widely known features of midazolam. Dr. David Lubarsky, the respected co-author of the 2005 Lancet study, said it was fine for sedating a patient - he called it "a martini in a syringe." But midazolam has no analgesic effects on its own. When it is used in minor surgical procedures, like colonoscopies, it is paired with an opioid. What's more, it is limited by what is often described as a ceiling effect, a widely accepted property among benzodiazepines. Even at extremely high doses, their effects eventually plateau. The 500 milligrams of midazolam called for by Tennessee will not make a difference. Dr. Craig Stevens, a neuropharmacologist, compared it to taking a bottle of aspirin to treat an amputated leg. Lubarsky said it was "like throwing a glass of water into the ocean."

Midazolam is therefore useless in the face of "noxious stimuli," the experts explained, especially something as severe as the injection of drugs like vecuronium bromide or potassium chloride. The former is "formulated in an acidic solution," Greenblatt testified, which made it "painful going in." If one is conscious as it takes effect, "basically you're suffocating. You want to breathe but you can't, because you can't use your muscles." The potassium chloride was also "extremely painful when injected," Greenblatt said. When patients receive it as part of a medical procedure, "you have to dilute it tremendously and also give it very slowly."

The expert testimony illuminated why the petitioners in Glossip called lethal injection using midazolam "the chemical equivalent of being burned alive," as Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. As the Supreme Court has rejected further challenges to lethal injection, she has continued to speak out. "What cruel irony," she wrote last year, "that the method that appears most humane may turn out to be our most cruel experiment yet."

Cross-examining the experts, Sutherland asked if they knew of any potential sources of pentobarbital for lethal injection. Not surprisingly, they said no. Surely they had professional contacts who might, Sutherland said. But the point was not to impeach their expertise. It was to show that the plaintiffs had not sought alternative sources to midazolam as required by Glossip.

The questioning became tense at times. Sutherland proved particularly irritating to Greenblatt. Much of his cross-examination was devoted to a tedious review of official records and timelines from executions in Florida, Arkansas, and Ohio, portions of which Sutherland asked him to read aloud. In Florida, beginning with William Happ, the 1st man executed with midazolam - whose death was described by witnesses as "labored" and prolonged - the records repeatedly showed "no unusual occurrences or problems," Greenblatt read again and again.

On July 18, Roswell Lee Evans, the expert who helped pave the way for Glossip, took the stand for the state. With white hair and a white beard, he struck an affable tone. "My occupation at the moment is that I'm retired," Evans said. "Previously I was a dean and professor at Auburn University School of Pharmacy in Auburn, Alabama." Sutherland went through his curriculum vitae. He got his pharmacist's license in Georgia in 1971, then a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy in Memphis, where he became interested in psychiatry. In 1975, he went to the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, "probably the 3rd center in the country to develop psychiatric pharmacy as a specialty." There, he dabbled in research on benzodiazepines, and helped treat patients with schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. In 1994, Evans moved to Auburn, where his duties were largely administrative.

Had he ever done clinical research on midazolam? No, he said.

Sutherland asked the court to qualify Evans as an expert, "based upon his scientific, technical, specialized knowledge through his career." Henry objected. Lyle allowed her to question Evans before continuing. "Dr. Evans, you are not a pharmacologist, correct?" Henry asked. Correct, Evans said. He had no experience prescribing midazolam in any anesthetic context, did he? No, Evans said. "In fact, you're not a medical doctor, are you?" He was not. Had he ever done clinical research on midazolam? No, he said. Sutherland pushed back. "Dr. Evans has been recognized in state and federal courts in the field of pharmacology and I think his experience speaks for itself."

Over Henry's objections, Lyle allowed Evans to testify in pharmacology. But she monitored his testimony. "I have no clinical experience with midazolam other than personal," Evans conceded as his direct testimony resumed, but said that he had studied the drug and lectured on it. "Tell me what you mean by 'studied it,'" Lyle interjected. "Reviewed the literature on it," he said. Lyle pressed further, but Evans remained vague. "The studying ... was largely in preparation for educational materials, lectures and so forth," Evans said. Most recently, it was "in relation to hearings such as this."

Henry continued to object over the course of Evans's direct testimony. Other times, Lyle intervened. Evans was eventually able to provide some opinions, but they were somewhat hard to follow. He drew a distinction between the therapeutic use of midazolam and "the toxic use." Although Greenblatt had testified extensively about studies showing that overdoses of benzodiazepine were not fatal on their own, Evans provided some examples. There was a 63-year-old man who had "received 10 milligrams of midazolam and he expired as a result," he testified. In her dissent in Glossip, Sotomayor had lambasted the apparent logic at hand: that "because midazolam caused some deaths, it would necessarily cause complete unconsciousness and then death at especially high doses. ... One might as well say that because some people occasionally die from eating 1 peanut, 100 peanuts would necessarily induce a coma and death in anyone."

Nevertheless, Evans was ultimately able to render the opinion most sought after by the state. "To a reasonable degree of pharmacological certainty," Sutherland asked, "could 500 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams of midazolam render someone unconscious and insensate during the lethal injection?" It could, Evans said.

Cross-examining Evans, Henry reviewed his track record. Until he first assessed midazolam for the state of Florida in 2014, she asked, "you had not researched what would be necessary to achieve a lethal dose of drug?" No, he said. She pointed out instances in which he gave erroneous opinions, for example, claiming that midazolam was approved by the FDA for use as a general anesthesia. In 1 Alabama case, Evans had conceded at a deposition that he had previously misinterpreted a study he used to question midazolam's ceiling effect - yet he had included that same flawed interpretation in his declaration to the state of Tennessee. "I reassessed the article and I stand by my initial comments," Evans explained.

Henry went back to his early Florida cases. In 1, Evans had said that midazolam had no pain-relieving properties at all, only to testify in a later case that it might help with lower back pain. Explaining the contradiction in a deposition, Evans said he'd had "a chance to do a little more digging." Now, Evans appeared to be changing his mind again. When Henry asked whether midazolam had any pain-relieving properties, he said no. But then he elaborated. "There is some pretty hypothetical information" to show that "it may - may - have analgesic effects," he began to say before Lyle stopped him. She wanted to know what further digging he had done in the previous case. "Your honor, I don't remember," he said. "But it was in a journal."

On July 30, Henry and her colleagues asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to halt the August 9 execution of Billy Ray Irick. The plaintiffs planned to appeal and "it would not be appropriate to move forward with an execution while the issue of the constitutionality of Tennessee's lethal injection protocol is still pending in the courts," Henry said in a statement. Even while ruling against them, Lyle had acknowledged the risks posed by midazolam, she added.

Henry reiterated an argument she had tried to make at the end of the trial. If the state could not carry out an execution using the alternative they had put forward - a single dose of pentobarbital - the plaintiffs moved to amend their complaint to consider an "alternative to the alternative": a 2-drug cocktail that removed the vecuronium bromide altogether. This option is "clearly available and readily implemented," which would satisfy the Glossip requirement. And it would remove one of the well-established risks: that their clients would be paralyzed, suffocating, and suffering as the lethal drugs took hold.

It seemed simple enough. Parker himself has suggested it would be possible. Indeed, Lyle had been among the first in the country to criticize the paralytic back in 2003. "If the state is sincere in its belief that midazolam will work the way that they say it will work," said Bradley MacLean, counsel for Abu Ali Abdur'Rahman, "there is no reason why the state should oppose this."

But it did. Sutherland called it a "desperate" move, while Lyle explained that the law prevented her from granting the motion. As for her prescient opinion 15 years ago, she wrote in her ruling, it came before Baze and Glossip. The Supreme Court had found a legitimate purpose for the paralytic: hastening death, while dignifying the process for witnesses and the condemned alike. Her previous decision was "of minimal use."

In his closing statement, Sutherland decried the repeated challenges to Tennessee's execution protocol over the years. "Nothing has ever been good enough," he said. Whether he meant to or not, he also got to the heart of the problem - with the paralytic, with lethal injection, with using the tools of medicine in order to kill. The plaintiffs wanted a dignified death, he said, but why should their deaths be peaceful? The deaths of murder victims weren't peaceful, he said, turning to stare at the audience in the courtroom. "Death is not pretty, your honor."

(source: theintercept.com)

NEBRASKA:

About 40 protesters take death penalty issue to Gov. Ricketts' church on Sunday

10 days before the State of Nebraska is set to hold an execution - its 1st in 21 years - protesters took their message to the Omaha church where Gov. Pete Ricketts worships.

About 40 people gathered Sunday morning outside St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. With its 6116 Dodge St. address, the midtown church also offered protesters high visibility.

Protesters waved signs that said "No Executions" and "Who Would Jesus Kill?" and questioned the governor's Catholic faith. One waved a picture of Pope Francis above the words "I SAID NO!" in reference to the Vatican's recent announcement that the death penalty is now completely unacceptable.

Nebraska's 3 bishops have called for a halt of the Aug. 14 execution and urged people to contact state officials.

Ricketts has been a forceful advocate for the death penalty, putting $300,000 of his family fortune toward the ballot effort that restored the death penalty after lawmakers voted to end it. Ricketts said last week that while he respects the pope's perspective, capital punishment reflects the will of the people and state law and is "an important tool."

It's not clear whether Ricketts attended either Sunday morning Mass, and his office couldn't be reached for comment. Another prominent Republican, Hal Daub, went to the 10:30 Mass. Protesters afterward jeered from across Dodge Street at Daub, who serves on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Daub declined to comment, saying the death penalty "has nothing to do with what I'm doing in my life."

Carla DeVelder, the protester with the Pope Francis sign, said she didn't care if the governor was there or not Sunday. She wanted to challenge other St. Margaret Mary parishioners.

The Rev. Gregory Baxter of St. Margaret Mary said he was disappointed in some of the demonstrators.

"I was saddened by the uncivil taunts and jeers of some of the protesters toward parishioners after Sunday Mass," he said.

(source: mdjonline.com)

USA:

Judge urged to keep Tsarnaev juror forms sealed

The federal judge who sentenced Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death in 2015 is being urged by prosecutors not to unseal 1,355 sealed questionnaires completed by prospective jurors not chosen to hear the case, arguing the release could lead to "embarrassment or harassment."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadine Pellegrini told U.S. District Court Judge George O'Toole Jr. in a filing last week that among the 100 questions put to jurors were whether the federal government "allows too many Muslims, or too many people from Muslim countries, to immigrate legally to the United States," and whether the war on terror "is overblown or exaggerated."

Attorney David Patton, in preparing the appeal to overturn Tsarnaev's death sentence, is agreeable to redacting jurors' personal identifiers, but told O'Toole in his motion to obtain the voluminous documents that he needs to know "the percentage of all venirepersons (potential jurors appearing for jury selection) who knew about the case, and the percentage who believed, based on pretrial publicity, that Mr. Tsarnaev was guilty or should receive the death penalty."

Patton plans to take the position that the trial never should have been held in Boston, much less 2 miles from Copley Square, where 3 race spectators were killed and nearly 300 others injured by 2 pressure-cooker bombs on April 15, 2013.

"The questionnaire contained 100 questions, many of which revealed information that could lead to the jurors' identification, could be considered private, or touched on divisive issues that could subject the jurors to embarrassment or harassment," Pellegrini said. "Even with full anonymity, many potential jurors would likely be surprised to find that their highly personal political and religious views - explained in their own handwriting - will be forever in the public record."

Tsarnaev turned 25 last month at the Supermax prison in Colorado. His opening brief is due no later than Nov. 19 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in South Boston.

(source: Boston Herald)

PHILIPPINES:

Pacquiao interprets Bible differently in pushing death penalty: CBCP

An official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (CBCP-CPPC) said Senator Manny Pacquiao has a different understanding of the Bible.

CBCP-CPPC executive secretary Rodolfo Diamante made the remarks in response to Pacquiao's justification of death penalty as 'biblical'.

"It is just unfortunate that (Senator) Pacquiao has a wrong interpretation of the Bible. He is actually misleading the public on his own understanding of the scriptural passage. This is what is dangerous," Diamante said in an interview on Monday.

"The Senator should ask his staff to do some solid research before sharing his thoughts on any issue," he added.

At the same time, the CBCP-ECPPC official reminded Pacquiao that it is his duty as a public official to be a protector of life.

"Furthermore, he was elected by the people to protect the quality of Life of people and not to extinguish it," he added.

In a radio interview on Saturday, the boxing champion-turned-senator said he will push for the speedy passage of a law reinstating death penalty in the country.

Pacquiao's statements came after Pope Francis declared that death penalty is unacceptable and can never be justified, even for heinous crimes.

President Rodrigo Duterte has earlier reiterated his stand in favor of restoring death penalty as a deterrent against crime and illegal drugs.

In June 2006, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9346 which abolished death penalty in the country.

(source: pna.gov.ph)

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

Remembering the Chiong sisters

21 years ago, on July 16, 1997, 2 sisters, Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, were abducted by 7 men as they were standing at a waiting shed at around 10:30 p.m. along Archbishop Reyes Avenue in Cebu City. 2 days later, the body of Marijoy was found at the bottom of a deep ravine in Tan-awan, Carcar City. The body of Jacqueline was never recovered.

7 men were convicted by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, Cebu City, of the crime: Francisco Juan Larranaga, alias Paco; Josman Aznar; Rowen Adlawan alias Wesley; Alberto Cano alias Allan Pahak; Ariel Balansag; and brothers James Andrew Uy alias "MM" and James Anthony Uy alias "Wang-Wang."

The decision dated May 5, 1999, found them "guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention and sentencing each of them to suffer the penalties of '2 reclusiones perpetua,' plus damages."

The conviction was appealed to the Supreme Court.

On Feb. 3, 2004, the Supreme Court rendered its decision. It said, "These cases involve the kidnapping, and illegal detention of a college beauty and her comely and courageous sister. An intriguing tale of ribaldry and gang rape was followed by the murder of the beauty queen. She was thrown off a cliff into a deep forested ravine where she was left to die. Her sister was subjected to heartless indignities, before she was also gang-raped. In the aftermath of the kidnapping and rape, the sister was made to disappear. Where she is, and what further crimes were inflicted upon her, remain unknown and unsolved up to the present." (People vs Larranaga, 421 SCRA 530 at 541)

The dispositive portion of the decision reads: "WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, Cebu City, in Criminal Cases nos. CBU-45303 and 45304 is AFFIRMED with the following modifications: (1) In Criminal Case no. CBU-45303, the accused 'are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and rape, and are sentenced to suffer the penalty of DEATH by lethal injection." (This is the case involving Marijoy.)

Note that the Supreme Court not only affirmed the decision of the lower court, but also imposed a higher penalty - death penalty by lethal injection. The Court explained why it imposed the death penalty: "The prosecution was able to prove that Marijoy was pushed to a ravine and died. Both girls were raped by the gang. In committing the crimes, appellants subjected them to dehumanizing acts. Dehumanization means 'deprivation of human qualities, such as compassion.' From our review of the evidence presented, we found the following dehumanizing acts committed by appellants: (1) Marijoy and Jacqueline were handcuffed and their mouths mercilessly taped; (2) They were beaten to severe weakness during their detention; (3) Jacqueline was made to dance amidst the rough manners and lewd suggestions of the appellants; (4) She was taunted to run and forcibly dragged to the van; and (5) Until now, Jacqueline remains missing, which aggravates the Chiong family's pain. All told, considering that the victims were raped, that Marijoy was killed, and that both victims were subjected to dehumanizing acts, the imposition of the death penalty on the appellants is in order." (People vs LarraŮaga, supra, at pages 579-580)

As to the alibis presented by the accused, I suggest we read the records of the case. (People vs Larranaga, supra, at pages 573-576)

The decision of the Supreme Court was unanimous. The Associate Justices were Reynato Puno, Jose Vitug, Artemio Panganiban, Leonardo Quisumbing, Consuelo Ynares Santiago, Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez, Antonio Carpio, Ma. Alicia Austria Martinez, Renato C. Corona, Conchita Carpio Morales, Romeo Callejo Sr. and Dante Tinga. All concurred.

Chief Justice Hilario Davide took no part, being related by affinity to the victims, while Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna was on official leave.

In 2006, capital punishment was abolished, and the death sentences of the 7 convicts who were on death row awaiting execution were commuted to life in prison.

An interesting development took place in 2007. A prisoner exchange treaty was signed between Spain and the Philippines. It was called the Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain. Paco Larranaga, 1 of the 7 men convicted, was a Spanish citizen. Under the treaty, he could be allowed to serve the remainder of his prison term in Spain, although the Spanish government would be bound by the terms of his conviction. In 2009, Larranaga left the Philippines for a Spanish prison.

In remembrance of the Chiong sisters, perhaps Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano could check if Larranaga is still in a Spanish prison. (source: Ramon Farolan - opinion.inquirer.net)

BANGLADESH:

Bangladesh considers death penalty for fatal road accidents

Bangladesh's cabinet on Monday will consider capital punishment for traffic accident deaths, a law ministry official said, as thousands of students held protests for a 9th day over the deaths of 2 teenagers by a speeding bus in Dhaka.

Tens of thousands of angry school and colleges students have been demanding changes to Bangladesh's transport laws, paralysing the crowded capital of 18 million, after the 2 teenagers were killed when a privately operated bus ran over a group of students on July 29.

"In this amendment it has been proposed to award the highest level of punishment if it is killing by an accident," said the law ministry official, who has been briefed on the matter but declined to be named ahead of a decision.

The current punishment is a maximum jail term of 3 years. Using the death penalty for road accidents is rare anywhere in the world. Bangladesh's transport authority listed punishments given in different countries that ranged from 14 years in the UK in extreme cases to 2 years in India.

Sheikh Shafi, a student of a polytechnic institute in Dhaka who lost his brother in a road accident in 2015, said one of the problems was that bus drivers are not paid fixed monthly salaries instead only earn commissions based on the number of passengers, forcing them to work long hours.

"Our demand is that the owners must appoint them and they will work a maximum of 10 hours. The commission based system must be eliminated," said Shafi, who was injured while protesting on Saturday.

Amid the ongoing protests, an official vehicle carrying the US ambassador to Bangladesh was attacked by a group of armed men on Sunday, some on motorcycles, the embassy said in a statement. There were no injuries but 2 vehicles were damaged.

The embassy has condemned the "brutal attacks and violence" against the student protesters by security forces, a charge the government denies.

Police said they did not have an immediate explanation as to why the US ambassador came under attack.

(source: iol.co.za)

TURKEY:

Death penalty debate rekindled in Turkey

Speculation surrounding the reintroduction of the death penalty has heightened in Turkey following comments made by head of a minor Turkish party allied with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Cumhuriyet newspaper said.

Mustafa Destici, leader of the Great Unity Party (BBP), suggested a proposal to reinstate the death penalty for offences such as murder, treason and sexual offences against children would be introduced to Turkey's parliament in October. He also suggested a referendum could be held in which the electorate could decide on the issue. Debate about the death penalty, abolished in 2004, has been ongoing in Turkey since the attempted coup of July 2016, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, having frequently said he would endorse any legislation that reinstates the punishment.

However implementing any such decision would be problematic according to Ozturk Turkdogan, head of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD). Turkdogan, a lawyer, pointed out that Destici's proposal would require changing Turkey's constitution, rather than laws and that gaining the necessary numbers of votes in Turkey's 600 seat parliaments to do this, or even to bring the issue to a referendum, would be difficult.

He also pointed out that Turkey is a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Additional Protocol No. 2 and a member of the European Court of Human Rights, both of which prohibit the death penalty.

Any reintroduction of the death penalty, Turkdogan said, would also be tantamount to "economic suicide", because it would result in the official end of Turkey's decades old-bid for European Union membership.

(source: ahvalnews.com)

IRAQ:

Iraq hands death penalty to al-Qaeda member responsible for massacre 11 years ago

An Iraqi court in the province of Diyala on Sunday sentenced an al-Qaeda member to death, convicted of killing 19 people in an attack on a village 11 years ago, the court announced.

Last week, the same court sentenced 4 more al-Qaeda members to death who were convicted of carrying out attacks in the country in 2007.

"The Diyala Criminal Court has sentenced to death by hanging one of those convicted of terrorism after committing criminal acts and belonging to al-Qaeda," Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, the spokesperson for the Supreme Judicial Council, said in a statement.

He added that "among the terrorist operations carried out by the convict, the man killed 19 people, kidnapped 2 others, and wounded 1 person after an attack with the armed group [al-Qaeda] on the village of Amiriyah - al-Rawashd in Diyala Province."

Last year, a court in Basra sentenced 3 people to death for the same attack carried out by several al-Qaeda militants in late July 2007 in the village of al-Rawashd.

The exact number of those accused of the incident remains unknown. It is also unclear how many other convicted members of the extremist group are in Iraqi prisons awaiting the same fate.

Different human rights organizations, including the United Nations, have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the rising number of death sentences in Iraq.

Aside from their condemnation, the organizations warn that efforts by Iraqi authorities to escalate the implementation of death sentences could lead to the execution of innocent people.

(source: kurdistan24.net)

AUGUST 5, 2018:

PENNSYLVANIA:

Death Penalty to Be Sought in 1992 Slaying of Schoolteacher

A prosecutor has announced plans to seek the death penalty against the man charged in the 1992 sexual assault and strangulation of an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania.

LNP newspaper reports that the Lancaster County district attorney's office gave notice last week of intent to seek capital punishment if 49-year-old Raymond Rowe is convicted of 1st-degree murder.

Rowe was charged earlier this year with criminal homicide, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and burglary in the death of 25-year-old Christy Mirack in East Lampeter Township.

Prosecutors said the death penalty would be warranted because the killing was committed during the sexual assault and burglary felonies.

Police were unable to identify Rowe as a suspect until they uncovered genealogical data leading them to the professional DJ.

His attorney declined comment.

(source: Associated Press)

KENTUCKY:

My Mother Witnessed the Public Hanging of a Black Man in Kentucky

A female reporter covering the execution of a man by a female sheriff may have been her editor's idea of a practical joke.

Pope Francis declared last week that the death penalty is always wrong, challenging Catholics worldwide to put an end to state-sanctioned executions. The death penalty debate has raged in America for years, and this True Story looks back to a time - not so very long ago - when hundreds gathered for what would become the country's last official public execution.

The classic newspaper execution story was part of the ace reporter's repertoire in Depression-era Chicago. The condemned man's courage or cowardice as he's being strapped into the electric chair, his last words, the high-voltage jolt, the exact time when he was declared dead - it was all there in stark black and white. My father, Donald W. Newton, one of the Chicago Daily News' cadre of virtuosic scribes, threw himself into those beat-by-beat accounts with Balzacian verve.

My mother, on the other hand, though an ace for a competing newspaper, was made of more delicate stuff. She had covered her share of murder trials for the Chicago Times, but she never fit the profile of the hard-boiled reporter. She was more comfortable writing touching human interest stories about, say, the famous Radium Girls, factory workers who destroyed their health by painting the hands of mass-produced watches with radioactive coloring.

Mary Alfredine Doty, my mom, was never one to revel in the competing brutalities of ruthless criminals and a vengeful criminal justice system. One day in 1936, however, she was brusquely thrust into the middle of it for a story that hit the front pages of newspapers across the country.

What the town of Owensboro had ... was the prospect of the first-ever female executioner, carrying out her lethal obligations on a public stage.

She told me about this decades later, in one of her patented out-of-the-blue revelations of surprising things that I didn't know about my mother. The conversation had drifted to lynchings, capital punishment and how Black people fared in the criminal justice system, and my mother got a far-seeing look, indicating she knew a thing or 2 about the subject. Yes, there had been a time when she had covered something like that. The public hanging of a Black man in Kentucky.

It was a familiar story: A 70-year-old White widow, raped and murdered in her own home by a 26-year-old Black man. The local prosecutor had elected to try the man only for rape - not murder or robbery - because the penalty in Kentucky would then be public hanging. For condemned man Rainey Bethea, there would be no escape in his final moments from public scrutiny in an enclosed death chamber. The jury in Bethea's trial took less than 5 minutes to find him a worthy candidate for the hangman's noose on a public gallows.

What made the story more than a local issue - another Black man meeting death at the end of a rope - was the designated executioner. In Daviess County, Kentucky, the local sheriff was supposed to attend to the nuts and bolts of execution. But the sheriff had recently died, and taking his place, by order of a bighearted county judge, was the dead sheriff's wife, Florence Thompson.

"By law, it was the sheriff who had to carry out the hanging," my mother explained.

What the town of Owensboro had in August 1936, then, was the prospect of the 1st-ever female executioner, carrying out her lethal obligations on a public stage.

It was a titillating story, and the newspapers played it for all it was worth, my mother said. People went nuts for the idea of this fine example of White Southern womanhood somehow delivering the coup de grace to a Black rapist, she said. The city desk felt the need for a female reporter's touch.

Little attention was devoted to the real protagonist of this drama, Bethea, a 26-year-old farmhand. He had confessed, of course, but he soon recanted. His team of lawyers - local courthouse regulars - advised the condemned man to plead guilty and beg for mercy. They subpoenaed four witnesses but never summoned any of them to the witness stand. In fact, the defense was notable for its total absence from the proceedings, my mother said.

"It was how things were done in those days," my mother said, bowing her head. The big story, it seems, was Thompson. What would she do? How would she react?

By the morning of execution day, there was a garrulous, alcohol-marinated crowd of about 20,000 gathered in an empty field near the Ohio River around a makeshift gallows, some chanting for the show to begin, others hungover from all-night "necktie parties."

Bethea was finally brought forward, handcuffed, mounting the steps of the gallows under the guidance of sheriff's deputies. "Quiet and dignified," my mother described him.

Then came Mrs. Thompson. "She was in the back of a black limousine, and she stepped out wearing a hat with a thick veil." Accompanying her was a man in a white suit and Panama hat, a little woozy from drink, exchanging words with Thompson before climbing the steps himself.

The advertised gender breakthrough turned out to be a total dud. It was the man in white who pulled the black sack over Bethea's head, fit the noose around his neck and guided him onto the trapdoor on the gallows platform. The lady sheriff sat in the car. After a long delay, the door snapped open, and the condemned man plummeted to his death.

A shocked pause. Then a rush forward toward the dead man. "The crowd surged toward the gallows, and people started tearing off pieces of the black cloth for souvenirs," my mother said, still sensing the shock of the scene.

Maybe Bethea - who declined to speak any last words to the snarling crowd - will never get justice. But the contingent of Northern journalists reported fully on the ghoulish behavior of people in the crowd at the end of the proceedings.

It's a black mark that offends Owensboro city fathers to this day. City officials and defenders of Owensboro still insist that none of this happened. The crowd was no more disorderly than spectators at a baseball game, they said. It was Northern reporters who, disappointed by the sedateness of the scene, collectively concocted the unruly crowd story - perhaps the 1st ever alleged "fake news" scenario.

My mother, known by friends and relatives as an unstinting truth-teller, almost saintly in her honesty, didnít talk about the civics issues. She just somberly shook her head, as she often did when she learned of someone's unspeakably repellent behavior. For me, anyway, that was incontrovertible proof that it happened the way my mother said it did.

The state of Kentucky, acknowledging the unseemly aspect of the hanging, soon called a stop to public executions (the last state to do so). Bethea's execution was the last official public hanging in the U.S.

(source: ozy.com)

NEBRASKA:

Church and state have collided during death penalty debate in Nebraska

As Nebraska hurtles toward a solemn moment it has not experienced in 21 years, its public officials - and citizens - confront what may be tension between their personal views and the tenets of their religious faith.

Sometimes, they conflict. Or may appear to do so.

Sometimes, they require a choice to be made.

In America, the separation of church and state has established that the government is sovereign in settling that argument if and when it reaches the governing stage.

But for individuals, including officeholders, the choice remains personal, individual, less clear, sometimes more unsettling and intense.

Occasionally, and sometimes dramatically, it all plays out on the public or political stage.

When Gov. Ben Nelson sat in the 2nd-floor family quarters at the Governor's Residence one July night in 1996 fielding phone calls from the State Penitentiary at midnight, it was a solemn and virtually solitary moment.

Nelson was alerted to each stage of John Joubert's walk to the electric chair, from an 11:15 p.m. call informing the governor of the contents of Joubert's final statement to a 12:04 a.m. call alerting Nelson that Joubert was being escorted to the electric chair.

At 12:16 a.m., the phone rang and the governor was told that the death sentence had been carried out.

Nelson, a Methodist who once considered the ministry as a career, said that night that his support for capital punishment fit into his understanding of the Bible and his Christian faith.

Yes, he said, he had prayed about it.

And, yes, he said, he would not sleep well for the 2nd night in a row.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Catholic and a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha, said he believes the Bible and church teaching do not preclude use of the death penalty.

But Pope Francis changed that teaching to fully reject any use of the death penalty with an announcement Thursday that came 12 days before the scheduled execution of Carey Dean Moore. The decision to make the change had been approved in May, according to the Vatican.

The official teaching contained in the church's Catechism now states that the use of capital punishment is "inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person."

Earlier, Pope Francis had described the death penalty as "contrary to the Gospel because it is freely decided to suppress a human life that is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and, of which, in the final analysis, God alone is the true judge and guarantor."

That marked a departure from Pope John Paul II's declaration in 1995 that use of the death penalty is justified if there is no other option that would adequately protect society.

The 3 Catholic bishops in Nebraska recently issued a joint statement opposing the scheduled execution of Moore.

"Each time we consider applying capital punishment, Nebraska has an opportunity to respond to an act of violence with an act of mercy that does not endanger public safety or compromise the demands of justice," Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln and Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt of Grand Island said.

The execution of Moore is "not necessary to fulfill justice and, for that reason, would undermine respect for human life," they stated.

Both the governor and Archbishop Lucas declined to be interviewed for this story.

Ricketts vetoed the 2015 bill that repealed the death penalty in Nebraska and fought hard to have his veto sustained by the Legislature. He fell 1 vote short.

And then he swiftly helped launch and fund a statewide referendum drive to repeal the new law.

Nebraska voters did that in an overwhelming way in the 2016 general election: 494,151 to 320,719.

92 of the state's 93 counties voted to restore the death penalty; only Lancaster County voted to retain the new law.

The dramatic death penalty struggle divided Catholics, as well as other Christians, in the Legislature, challenging many senators to examine, or re-examine, their faith.

While the battle was led by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who proclaims himself to be a nonbeliever while constantly challenging his colleagues with biblical quotations memorized when he was a younger man, it was a Catholic senator from Lincoln who quietly decided to systematically gather support from among his conservative Republican colleagues in the nonpartisan Legislature.

And as the debate to ultimately override the governor's veto neared its end, Sen. Colby Coash slipped into an old phone booth in the back of the legislative chamber with his grandfather's rosary in hand.

Sixteen senators who were Republicans ultimately would vote to override the veto that day.

The climactic vote on the motion to override the governor's veto was cast by Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha, a Presbyterian, who had carefully listened to both sides and weighed his decision for so long that he suddenly found himself in the eye of the storm holding what would be the decisive vote.

"To be very honest with you, this has been a spiritual journey for me from the very beginning, one that reached the very depths of my soul," he said two days later as the tension began to ease.

For many members of the Legislature, it had been an emotionally challenging issue that required re-examination of both self and soul.

Perhaps the seminal moment in clearly defining the role and influence of religion, and particularly the Catholic Church, in political policy and decision-making in the United States occurred in 1960.

John F. Kennedy directly addressed the question of separation of church and state when his Catholicism had become an issue in his presidential campaign with opponents suggesting his greater loyalty inevitably would be to his church and ultimately to the Vatican.

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote," Kennedy declared in an address to an association of Protestant ministers in Houston.

That is an America "where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source," Kennedy said.

"I do not speak for my church on public matters," he said, "and the church does not speak for me."

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

Brother of death row inmate Carey Dean Moore: 'He would just like to die'

If the state executes Carey Dean Moore next week as planned for killing 2 men in 1979, his twin brother will be there with him.

"It will not be easy, no," said 60-year-old David Moore of Lincoln. "But Dean wants me there, so I have little choice. Sometimes none of us have a choice in things. Swing with the punches and come up kicking."

David Moore always has called his brother Dean, even after others started calling him Carey. There's nothing he wouldn't do for him, he said. Same as a lot of brothers. Maybe even more so with twins.

And 34 years ago, David Moore showed how far he would go when he swapped places with his brother and put himself on death row in a spur-of-the-moment escape attempt so that his brother might get to breathe fresh air again.

"Imprisoned twin brothers switch places" read the headline in the Lincoln Journal on Oct. 4, 1984.

It took several hours before Carey Dean Moore reported to his brother's job in the prison kitchen and the supervisor noticed it wasn't David.

"Back then we were both animals. We weren't fit to be allowed in society, I guess."

-- David Moore

They were 26 then. David Moore was serving four to six years for burglary. Carey Dean Moore was on death row for the murders of 2 Omaha cab drivers, Reuel Van Ness Jr. and Maynard Helgeland.

"Back then we were both animals. We weren't fit to be allowed in society, I guess," David Moore said.

* * *

In 1979, David Moore was in prison in Washington when he heard about Carey Dean and their 14-year-old brother, Donald Moore, getting arrested for the killing of Van Ness during an armed robbery, and Carey Dean for the killing of a 2nd cab driver, Helgeland, 4 days later.

"I was shocked and yet I wasn't shocked," David Moore recently told the Journal Star. "We both had a sensation that there was something or somebody coming after us. Me? I took off. But Dean decided to stay around, and he ended up serving a lot more time."

They had a pretty rough childhood in north Omaha, he said. They were 2 of 11 siblings. There never was enough money. Lots of times they sat down to the table and had nothing to eat. If they stole food, they'd get a spanking from Mom and a beating from Dad.

They did what they had to to survive, David Moore said.

Back in those days, it seemed like everyone was against them, they just didn't know why, he said.

"It was get them before they can get you," David Moore said. "Unfortunately, we didn't learn to respect people before something really bad happened."

* * *

On Aug. 20, 1979, Carey Dean Moore bought a gun for $50 from a driver who shared a Happy Cab with Moore's mother. 2 days later, he called for a cab from a telephone booth at the Smoke Pit, planning to rob and shoot the driver. He hid nearby to see if the driver was old enough, telling police later it would be harder to shoot someone around his own age, 21.

David Moore said his brother told him when he pointed the gun at Van Ness, the driver reached into the back seat. They were playing a kind of deadly tug-of-war with the pistol when it went off.

Carey Dean couldn't really believe what he'd done, he told David Moore, so he asked 14-year-old Donald to look. Was the man really dead?

4 days later, Carey Dean Moore went to see if he could do it again, alone this time.

He called a cab to the Greyhound bus depot and asked Helgeland for a ride to the Benson area. Helgeland was found dead in his cab the next morning.

Every day since, David Moore said, his brother has wished he could take it back.

"Dean isn't like what he was," he said.

* * *

Since then, the Nebraska Supreme Court has given Carey Dean Moore 7 execution dates - Sept. 20, 1980; Aug. 20, 1982; Dec. 4, 1984; May 9, 1997; Jan. 19, 2000; May 8, 2007; June 14, 2011 - before this one, Tuesday, Aug. 14.

There were delays by attorneys and the court, some that came in his own case, some prompted by other death-row cases. There were challenges over whether the aggravating factor known as "exceptional depravity" that made his case eligible for capital punishment was unconstitutionally vague, and whether electrocution was cruel and unusual punishment.

There were stays and resentencings.

In a recent email to the Journal Star from the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, Carey Dean Moore said June 20 marked his 38th year on death row.

It's among the longest anyone has been on death row in the country.

"And in August it will be 39 yrs since I convinced my 14 yr old brother to go with me only to rob a man who drove a Omaha cab, almost 39 yrs. Are you people listening to me?!" he wrote.

Carey Dean Moore said the American Civil Liberties Union and his attorney at the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy would like to fight the execution on his behalf.

"But most certainly I do not (want that)," Moore said. "If they would file a motion for my brother, Donald, to get him off parole, which he has been on since forever, it seems like, that would be perfect for me."

Donald Moore got 10 years to life for 2nd-degree murder. He was released from prison 10 years ago, but he could be on parole forever.

A week after the email, Carey Dean Moore learned his newest execution date.

Carey Dean Moore marveled at how God is able to work in the hearts of people forced to grapple with pain and anger, "all because of what one man (me) had done - murdering 2 men. I am so sorry for what I had done to these families, even more than anyone can imagine."

Asked to respond, the man who found religion inside the prison walls said he marveled at how God is able to work in the hearts of people forced to grapple with pain and anger, "all because of what 1 man (me) had done - murdering two men. I am so sorry for what I had done to these families, even more than anyone can imagine."

He said he's thankful for God's forgiveness for his actions and sins, and prays his victims' families will forgive him.

"It is easy to cause hurt, but it takes great strength to forgive," he said.

* * *

David Moore is a couple years from retiring from Farmland, a job he's had for 26 years. He heard about his twin brother's August execution date from his daughter, but he didn't really consider it to be true until his brother told him during a visit.

"If this happens it's a relief," he said. "Dean has almost been executed 6 or 7 times and each time you start preparing yourself for it."

So do the families. Both Moore's and the victims'. It must be tough on them, David Moore said.

His brother wants the state to go through with it this time.

"He would just like to die," David Moore said.

Carey Dean Moore admitted his guilt a long time ago, stopped his appeals, even tried to fire his lawyers.

"There's got to be a time to say stop," David Moore said. "I just hope they finally do it, stop messing around and pull the switch, give him a couple of shots or whatever. Do it instead of talking and talking about it."

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

Family members remember men slain by Moore, say legal wrangling has gone on too long

Maynard Helgeland was shot and killed by Carey Dean Moore in his Omaha taxi cab. As the state prepares to execute Moore this month, families of the victims say they are having to relive the dark days. "I feel like my father and Mr. Van Ness have kind of been forgotten in this," Lori Helgeland-Renken said.

Lori Helgeland-Renken spent the evening of Aug. 26, 1979, reading "Amityville Horror" in her Council Bluffs, Iowa, duplex, turning the pages well into the early morning hours, oblivious of the real-life horrors to come.

The 19-year-old woman had never heard the name Carey Dean Moore, had no clue the 22-year-old man had gone to the Greyhound bus station in Omaha with evil on his mind.

She couldn't know her father would be sitting in the only cab at the taxi stand there, that Moore would crawl in, direct the driver she loved to a downtown alley and shoot him.

Not until her phone rang.

Nearly 39 years later, the memory remains vivid: The Omaha police detective wouldnít tell her why he was calling, and asked her to meet him in a nearby high school parking lot because he was having trouble finding her apartment. She took her best friend with her and learned in the back of a police cruiser that her father, Maynard Helgeland, was dead.

She blames the state of Nebraska for causing her grief to bubble to the surface once more.

"It's like reliving it all over. Like it was brand-new," she said recently in a telephone interview from her home in Mount Vernon, South Dakota.

In 1980, Moore was sentenced to death for murdering Helgeland and - 4 days earlier - another cab driver, Reuel Van Ness Jr.

Moore is scheduled to die by lethal injection Aug. 14, the 1st person executed in Nebraska in 21 years.

He's been on Nebraska's death row longer than anyone else and is among the longest-serving death row inmates in the country. He's said he no longer wants to fight the execution.

Helgeland's children are angry and tired and not at all sure it will happen.

For the 1st decade, Helgeland-Renken said, she thought the death penalty was the right sentence.

"It was like, he needs to pay for what he did. It was planned and deliberate and just horrible," she said. "But as time goes on ... after all this time, what's the point? I just think if he doesn't like being on death row I'd like to just leave him there."

Her younger brother, Steve Helgeland, who was 13 when their father was killed and now lives in Rapid City, South Dakota, said he just wants Moore off the front page of the paper. But the state's been dragging its feet for nearly 40 years, he said, and he's doubtful it will happen this time.

"After this long, it's as much farce as it is justice," he said.

And who's gotten lost in all the legal wrangling, say the family members, are the victims.

"I feel like my father and Mr. Van Ness have kind of been forgotten in this," Helgeland-Renken said.

* * *

Both men were fathers and Korean War veterans. They'd both worked construction in addition to driving cabs.

Van Ness, a native of Omaha, was married and had 13 children.

Tom Rinabarger, a stepson who lives in Omaha, works construction like his dad. That work, he said, makes him think of him daily.

"Everything I do in life reminds me of my dad," said an emotional Rinabarger in a brief interview. Other family members couldn't be reached.

Maynard Helgeland was born during the Depression in a small town near Mitchell, South Dakota, to a single mom.

It wasn't easy to be an unmarried mother in those days, but her father welcomed his grandson.

"He said there's always room at the table for one more, so she brought him home," said Steve Helgeland.

As a teen in the late 1940s, Maynard Helgeland took up boxing and competed in numerous Golden Gloves tournaments.

He joined the Air Force during the Korean War, and later married and had 3 children - Kenny, Lori and Steve. Around 1970, the family moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa, so Helgeland could work construction at a friend's business.

His youngest son remembers his dad buying him bicycles and teaching him to shoot BB guns.

Their dad loved Billy Graham and animals and was a generous and accepting man, his children said.

"If he had 2 bucks and you needed 2 bucks, he'd give you 2 bucks," Helgeland-Renken said. "If (Moore) had just wanted money dad would have given him anything."

Once, in his boxing days, Helgeland went to an out-of-town tournament with other boxers, his youngest son said. The hotel wouldn't allow blacks to stay there, so one boxer had to stay at the YMCA. Helgeland stayed with him.

As the kid of a single mom in the '30s, Steve Helgeland said his dad could relate to being an outsider.

"He understood what it was like to be ostracized," he said.

He also battled depression and an alcoholism addiction that would cost him dearly. His marriage ended, and one winter night sometime later he fell asleep in a car and suffered such severe frostbite his feet and a portion of his legs had to be amputated.

But that incident was a catalyst, Helgeland-Renken said, and her father quit drinking.

"That's just what it took to turn his life around," she said. "Because he really did turn his life around."

Kenny, the oldest son, moved in with his dad and both drove cabs. The night Maynard Helgeland died, Kenny was supposed to be in that cab, but got an invitation from friends to go to the racetrack in Lincoln instead.

Helgeland-Renken was close to her dad, but lived in a duplex with 2 good friends and worked as a cashier at the nearby Sapp Brothers.

Steve Helgeland moved to Wisconsin with his mom and stepdad shortly before his dad died. He remembers clearly his mom and the school secretary pulling him out of class to tell him what had happened.

He never had the chance to fix things with his dad, he said.

"Mr. Moore stole that opportunity," he said. "My kids have never met their grandfather. Mr. Moore got another 40 years."

? * * *

After their father's death, Kenny moved back to South Dakota, and his sister soon followed. Eventually, their mom, stepdad and younger brother moved there, too. Their mom died 2 years ago.

Steve Helgeland "banged around for a while" after high school, then got married and earned a degree in education. Today, he has 3 children, o1 grandson and is director of special education at a South Dakota school district.

Much of his anger has subsided over the years, he said, but he thinks the loss of his dad had something to do with his interest in education.

"Growing up without a father, I wanted to help young men in the same situation," he said.

His older brother and sister both live across the state in Mount Vernon, near where their dad grew up.

Kenny is self-employed and nearing retirement, his younger brother said.

Helgeland-Renken has been married 28 years, raised 3 children and now spends time with 3 grandchildren.

The drawn-out legal fights over Moore's sentence have caused so much heartache, she said, for their family and the Van Ness family. She knows Moore's family has suffered, too.

In 2007, when the state came within a week of executing Moore, her husband was going to be a witness. He doesn't want to now, but it bothers her no one from the state has reached out to family members. Other than a call from a Douglas County official telling them the date had been set, they've heard nothing, she said.

But both boys will be in Lincoln for the execution, to honor their dad. Steve said he has no desire to witness it, but Kenny said he plans do so.

Helgeland-Renken isn't coming.

Instead, she'll be meeting her newest grandson.

When they found out her pregnant daughter was scheduled to be induced the same day as the execution, her daughter offered to change it.

Helgeland-Renken told her it wasn't necessary, that she'd chosen to look at it differently.

"What a blessing God is giving me," she said. "That's why I won't be in Lincoln with my brothers."

(source for all: Lincoln Journal Star)

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

What words for the victims?

If the words barbaric, heinous and inhumane are being used to describe the horrors of capital punishment, then what words would be appropriate to describe what innocent victims suffered at the hands of such predators?

What word or words come to mind after 2 Omaha cab drivers were shot to death in a holdup for a few lousy dollars? How would you describe what Charles Starkweather did to 11 people in the 1950s, including a 2-year-old child and a teenage couple?

Danny Jo Eberle and Christopher Walden were abducted, then hogtied, sexually abused and finally stabbed to death by John Joubert. Jane McManus was stalked, raped and then beaten to death with a claw hammer at the hands of Harold Lamont Otey.

What words can be used to describe such carnage? Can the words barbaric, heinous and inhumane be used?

Charlie Aliano, Omaha

----

Execution won't help anything

It makes my heart sad to see the governor of Nebraska work so hard to find a way to kill Carey Dean Moore.

Will we really find our lives better if we wake up on Aug. 15 having executed this man? No doubt he committed a terrible act. Must we do the same? Must we kill him coldly and deliberately as a way to show that killing is wrong?

Sheila Burke, Omaha

(source: Letters to the Editor, Omaha World-Herald)

NEVADA:

Nevada's death penalty procedure is flawed

Regarding your Sunday story on the use of the death penalty in Clark County:

If the prosecution seeks the death penalty, the jury, during voir dire, must be "death qualified." Any potential juror who says his beliefs would "substantially impair" his willingness to impose the death penalty is automatically excused from the jury. This excludes about 1/4 to 1/3 of potential jurors.

The potential jurors most often excused are females, African-Americans, Catholics and political liberals. This usually results in a jury of predominately white males who are biased in favor of the prosecution and conviction. This death qualification process has been approved by the U. S. Supreme Court even though it results in biased juries. The death qualification procedure provides a powerful incentive for the prosecution to seek the death penalty because that will get the prosecution a jury biased toward conviction.

The Innocence Project has used DNA evidence to exonerate 358 wrongfully convicted persons. 20 of those innocent people were sentenced to death and would have been executed had the Innocence Project not investigated their cases. Our criminal justice system cannot always distinguish the guilty from the innocent.

The major argument for the death penalty is that it deters potential murderers. Research provides little support for the deterrence argument. Furthermore, we do not know which people fear more - death or life in prison. Given that 11 of the last 12 people executed in Nevada have "volunteered" to die, perhaps we should research this issue to determine what deters more: the fear of death or the fear of life in prison.

(source: Letter to the Editor, Joseph Boetcher; Las Vegas Review-Journal)

VIETNAM:

2 Vietnamese drug transporters prosecuted

2 young men from Vietnam's northern Dien Bien province have been detained and prosecuted for transporting over 14 kg of heroin, according to police of Hanoi capital on Saturday.

Lau A Chu, 23, and Lau A Chia, 19, were caught in the capital city when they were transporting 40 cakes of heroin.

Chu confessed that he had been hired to transport the drug from Dien Bien to Hanoi then to the three northern province of Thai Nguyen, Cao Bang and Bac Kan at a wage of 200 million Vietnamese dong (8,700 U.S. dollars). Chu asked Chia to accompany him to jointly transport the drug.

According to Vietnamese law, those convicted of smuggling over 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms 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)

MALAYSIA:

Malaysia's newgovernment should no longer delay abolition of death penalty----All perpetrators of crime including Altantuya's murder should be brought to justice

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disappointed that there is still no abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia after almost 3 months since the new Pakatan Harapan led government came into power.

The former UMNO-BN government did abolish the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking in 2017, but alas the delay of putting the new law in force for months resulted in at least 10 persons being sentenced to mandatory death penalty. Currently in Malaysia, the death penalty is mandatory for about 12 offences, while about 20 other offences are punishable by a discretionary death penalty. Many of these offences do not even result in grievous injury and/or death to victims.

It is MADPET's hope that the new PH-led government will act justly, and expedite the abolition of the death penalty, especially the mandatory death penalty and not just procrastinate using lame reasons of further study and review as was the case with the past government. The greater the delay, more will be sentenced to death and may even continue to be executed in Malaysia. When in Opposition, many of the parties and their parliamentarians, who are now in the new government, were committed to the abolition of the death penalty. The time to walk the talk is now.

35 persons were executed in the last 10 years(2007 - 2017), and 1,267 people on death row or 2.7% of the prison population of about 60,000 people, as revealed by deputy director (policy) of the Prisons Department, Supri Hashim recently(Star, 29/6/2018). Since the new government assumed power, there is to date no known executions, but reasonably many still may have been sentenced to death in the past months.

On 29/7/2018, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that government is looking into the need to make amendments to do away with the mandatory death penalty in legislation pertaining to criminal offences.(Malay Mail, 29/6/2018)

Mandatory death penalty removes the ability of judges to impose the most just and appropriate sentence, as Parliament by law forces them to impose just the one sentence of death once a person is convicted of the relevant crime.

Mandatory death penalty is undemocratic

In a democracy, there are 3 branches of government - the Executive (Prime Minister and Cabinet), the Judiciary and the Legislative(Parliament). Besides serving as a check and balance to the other 2 branches, each branch of government also do have specific functions.

The mandatory sentence including the death penalty, is really is a trespass by the Legislature into what must be the duties/functions of the Judiciary. We should really trust the Judiciary in Malaysia to provide every person with the right to a fair trial, including also the ability to impose the appropriate just sentence, after considering all factors, including points submitted in mitigations and arguments for a harsher sentence.

Mandatory death penalty is unconstitutional

The existence of the mandatory death penalty may be unconstitutional, which was also the recent finding of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Barbadosís highest court, on 27/6/2018, which struck down the mandatory death penalty on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Amongst others, it said that 'the Constitution, which gives the right to protection of the law, was enforceable, and that the mandatory death penalty breached that right as it deprived a court of the opportunity to exercise the quintessential judicial function of tailoring the punishment to fit the crime'. One of the judges also stated 'that the judicial monopoly on the power to sentence, which is protected by the separation of powers principle, is consistent with "ensuring respect for, and adherence to, the ongoing evolution in the protection of human rights". (Caribean360, 27/6/2018)

Our Malaysian Constitution has similar provisions with Barbados, and is also a democracy.

In a criminal trial, after conviction, the accused have the right to raise mitigating factors for the courts to consider when deciding on a just sentence. When an offence provides for a mandatory sentence, the convicted person is denied this fundamental right, and as such, it may be said that he/she is denied the guaranteed 'equal protection of the law' and the right to a just sentence.

Death penalty in malaysia not in accordance with islam must be abolished

Whilst, some Muslims have supported the death penalty on the basis that it is provided for in their religious teachings and/or faith, it must be pointed out that in Malaysia, all the offences that provide for the death penalty are not offences under the Islamic/Syariah law. In Islam, there are also strict criminal procedural and evidential requirements that need to be fulfilled, which arguably is not fulfilled in Malaysia's present administration of criminal justice system that now allows for the death penalty. As such, the argument that Malaysia should retain the death penalty because Islam allows for it is weak, and possibly even baseless or flawed.

Being a caring nation, Malaysia needs to do justice to all - including also emphasizing on repentance and second chances rather than simply effecting revenge, punishment and even death. It must be noted, that Malaysia, may also be partially responsible for its failings of government to provide for the well-being and welfare of its people, may have been a factor that pushed many a poor persons to resort to crime for the survival and livelihood of themselves and their families.

Therefore, Muslim politicians and parties, in government or otherwise, should justly not resist the abolition of death penalty, for fear of losing the support of Muslim Malaysian voters.

Death penalty not in the 'best interest' of a child

Malaysia, having ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995, must uphold its commitment to the protection and well-being of children. The execution of a father/mother/sibling/relative of a child is really not in the 'best interest of the child'.

This concern for the child is already reflected even in our present Malaysian criminal laws, where a pregnant woman will not be sentenced to death, not when she is pregnant nor even many years after she had given birth. The underlying value and principle could only be our concern for the child and the importance of a living parent to a child's wellbeing. This care and concern now needs to be expanded by the abolition of the death penalty.

When other co-perpetrators not yet arrested, tried or brought to justice

There is suspicion that in the Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case, there may be others involved besides the 2 who have been convicted and now sentenced to mandatory death penalty. The 2, Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri, were at the time of the said murder part of former Prime Minister Najib's personal security detail.

This may be the case also for many other murders and death penalty crimes, especially those cases where the prosecution in the charge sheet clearly stated that the crime was done together with others not named, and in other such cases where involvement of 3rd parties are evident or suspected. If the convicted are executed, it is becomes all the more unlikely that these other perpetrators of crime may never be identified, arrested and brought to justice.

Now, Malaysia is considering the abolition of the death penalty with the hope that the convicted and those sentenced to death, will cooperate in making sure other perpetrators are also brought to justice - this is an additional reason for the abolition of the death penalty. It will surely make it more probable to bring to justice those in the shadows, including those who may have ordered or facilitated such murders and crimes.

In Japan, it was customary that the convicted were not executed until all those involved were brought to justice. In Malaysia, sadly this may not be the case.

Even in cases that the prosecution knows there are others still at large, as an example in the case of Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu(35), Ramesh Jayakumar(34), and Sasivarnam Jayakumar(37) who were executed for murder in March 2016. The charge levied against the 3 stated clearly that the murder was committed with 'one other still at large'. Now that the 3 have been executed, that 'one other still at large' would most probably never be brought to justice, more so since crucial witnesses being the accomplices are now dead. Justice may not be done.

Everyone would want all perpetrators of crimes, including the 'big bosses', 'kingpins' and others that ordered or assisted in the crime to be brought to justice. Hence, the execution of possible 'whistle blowers' and crucial witnesses prior to the arrest and trial of all other perpetrators is foolish, and certainly yet another reason for the abolition of the death penalty.

Now, if there is no mandatory death penalty, better still no death penalty, it is more likely that the convicted, especially after they had been unsuccessful in their final appeal, to reveal information needed to bring other remaining perpetrators to justice possibly with an assurance that there will be reduction in their own sentences. A person, who is guilty of murder or any crime, is likely not to reveal any information about the involvement of others until after their final appeal - for any earlier disclosure will not help them in their own trial, and will more likely result in their own conviction.

Commute death sentence rather than simply delaying executions

Dr Wan Azizah was reported saying that "The last Cabinet meeting resolved to implement the government decision to defer the death penalty imposed on 17 people convicted of drug offences." (Malay Mail, 29/6/2018). This only means that their execution has been delayed. It should just be commuted to imprisonment

With regards to the offence of drug trafficking, all those on death row, especially the at least 10 persons who were sentenced to death, simply because of the then Barisan Nasional's Minister's procrastination in putting the law into force by several months, should really now have their death penalty commuted to imprisonment. In fact, it is just that all those on death row for drug trafficking should have their death sentence commuted to imprisonment.

Historic success of ousting umno-led government celebrated with commutation of death sentence?

Given the historic success at the last General Elections on 10/5/2018, which saw Malaysians ousting the UMNO-led coalition who had been government since independence on 31/8/1957, it may be the best time to celebrate by having the death sentence of all on death row at this time be commuted to imprisonment possibly on the occasion of the upcoming Merdeka celebration at the end of this month on 31/8/2018.

There are many reasons why the death penalty needs to be abolished. It certainly does not serve as a deterrent, as in Malaysia itself, it has been previously revealed in Parliament that there was an increase of drug trafficking despite the existence of the mandatory death penalty.

The police, prosecution and the courts are certainly not infallible, and innocent people can sometimes wrongly be found guilty and even sentenced to death. This risk of miscarriage of justice itself is sufficient reason for the abolition of the death penalty.

The call for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia has been made for far too long by civil society, Malaysian Bar, Parliamentarians and many others. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has also recently called on this new government to not delay in abolition of death penalty,(2/7/2018, Bernama-Malay Mail)

MADPET calls on the new Malaysian government to forthwith impose a moratorium on all executions pending the abolition of the death penalty.

MADPET calls on the Malaysian government to immediately commute the death sentence of all on death row, especially those on death row by reason of being sentenced to death for drug trafficking, when that offence still carried the mandatory death penalty.

MADPET calls for the abolition of the mandatory death penalty and all other mandatory sentences, and restore to the Judiciary the power to decide on the most appropriate and just sentence for each case. Parliament should maybe simply stipulate maximum and/or minimum sentences, and return to the Judiciary 'the judicial monopoly on the power to sentence' as should be the case in a true Democracy.

MADPET calls for Malaysia to no longer delay the abolition of the death penalty, and to abolish the death penalty immediately in 2018.

(source: malaymail.com)

PAKISTAN:

Zainab murderer handed death penalty for rape, murder of 3 other girls

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday handed Imran Ali - who is currently incarcerated and on death-row for the rape and murder of 6-year-old Zainab Amin - the death penalty on 12 more counts for the rape and murder of 3 other girls.

Ali, a resident of Kasur, was involved in at least 9 incidents of rape-cum-murder of minors, including Zainab, which he had confessed to during her murder investigation.

The verdicts for the cases of all th3 minor girls were announced today by special administrative judge Sheikh Sajjad Ahmed of the ATC after listening to the final arguments presented by the counsels.

In all 3 cases, Ali was found guilty under sections 364-A (kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of 14), 376 (3) (rape of minor), 302-B (punishment for qatl-i-amd) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7(a) (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997.

According to the judgements, Ali has been sentenced to death on a total of 12 counts (4 counts for each victim), fined Rs6 million (Rs2m per victim) and ordered to pay Rs3m (Rs1m per victim) as compensation to the victims' families. In case of failure to pay the fine or compensation, he will have to undergo another 6 months imprisonment.

The 1st information reports of all 3 cases were registered in different months of 2017. The ages of the 3 victims were 5, 7 and 8.

Zainab's rape and murder earlier this year had sparked outrage and protests across the country after the 6-year-old, who went missing on January 4, was found dead in a trash heap in Kasur on January 9.

Her case was the 12th such incident to occur within a 10 kilometre radius in the city over a 12-month period.

The heinous nature of the crime had seen immediate riots break out in Kasur - in which 2 people were killed - while #JusticeforZainab became a rallying cry for an end to violence against children.

The Punjab government had declared the arrest of Ali, the prime suspect, on January 23.

On June 12, the Supreme Court rejected Ali's appeal against the death sentence handed to him for the rape and murder of Zainab, noting that the petitioner had admitted committing similar offences with 8 other minor victims and "in that backdrop, he did not deserve any sympathy in the matter of his sentences".

Imran had filed the appeal challenging the death sentence handed to him in February, claiming his trial was not fair. He still has the right to seek clemency from President Mamnoon Hussain.

(source: dawn.com)

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

Kasur rape and murder convict gets 12 more death sentences in Pakistan

The convict in a high-profile rape and murder case of a minor girl in Pakistan's Kasur city was given 12 more death sentences by a special anti-terrorism court in another 3 cases of child sexual abuse, according to a media report.

Imran Ali, who was already awarded four counts of the death penalty, 1 life term, 7-year jail term and Rs 4.1 million in fines back in February for raping and murdering the seven-year-old girl, had confessed sexually abusing at least another eight girls, Dawn newspaper reported.

The anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday awarded Ali, currently incarcerated and on death-row for the rape and murder of the minor girl, the death penalty on 12 more counts for the rape and murder of three other girls, the report said.

Ali was also fined Rs 6 million out of which Rs 3 million were directed to be handed to the families of the victims as 'blood money'.

Earlier this year, the rape and murder of the minor girl in Kasur had sparked outrage and protests across the country.

Ali was nabbed by authorities on January 23 following a DNA-match.

He was found to be a serial killer and had confessed to his crimes on the day of his indictment that came through the Lahore High Court (LHC).

On February 17, he was given a death sentence for abduction, rape and murder in the Kasur girl case.

(source: newsnation.in)

IRAN:

Amnesty: Iran Will Be Breaking International Law With Executions

Amnesty International said on Wednesday that Iran would be breaking international law if it goes ahead with the execution of those arrested during the economic crisis in Iran.

The human rights group expressed "alarm' over the arrests and stressed that executions for non-violent offences are "in direct breach of international law".

An Amnesty spokesperson said: "Amnesty International is alarmed at the judiciary's announcement that it has charged individuals arrested in relation to the country's economy and currency crisis with 'corruption on earth' (efsad-e fel arz), which incurs the death penalty. This would be in direct breach of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the 'most serious crimes' - those involving intentional killing. Amnesty International's research has shown that basic fair trial guarantees are absent in death penalty cases in Iran."

Iranian officials announced last weekend that at least 29 people have been arrested and charged with "economic disruption", a charge that carries the death penalty in Iran.

This is part of the Regime's plan to deflect blame over its worsening economic situation, which saw the rial plunge to a record low of 120,000 rials to the dollar this week, and has sparked major protests across the country. The mullahs blamed unnamed "enemies' for the crisis and announced dozens of arrests.

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh explained that these arrests are nothing more than a PR exercise for the mullahs. Their aim is to look like they are tackling corruption, when really they would not do anything of the sort. The corruption runs right to the top in Iran and tackling it would be akin to cutting off their own heads, so instead they blame shadowy figures and crack down on the people of Iran.

Rafizadeh said: "The protests in Isfahan are significant because they highlight people's ongoing and growing outrage and frustration with the theocratic establishment, as the economy is in shambles. Despite the regime's crackdown, people continue to take to streets as they canít make ends meet."

Indeed, thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets this week in protest at the economy and all of the other problems caused by the Regime, demanding that the mullahs stop their meddling in the affairs of neighbouring countries in the region.

Videos of the protests showed people chanting: "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, my soul is Iran's redemption."

They are not backing down and will continue to fight for regime change.

(source: irannewsupdate.com)

CANADA:

Murder by serial killer pinned on Sault man

Ron Moffatt expected to hang for a murder he never committed before he turned 20.

The Sault Ste. Marie resident was wrongly imprisoned more than 60 years ago for the death of a Toronto boy.

Nate Hendley's new book, The Boy on the Bicycle: A Forgotten Case of Wrongful Conviction in Toronto, tells the story Moffatt's kept from many, including his 3 children, for years.

Moffatt, 76, was 14 when he was charged with the death of 7-year-old Wayne Mallete in September 1956.

The Toronto native's recent summer employment at the Canadian National Exhibition, where Mallette was slain, and his decision to skip school when investigators were watching for a young suspect who may be truant, put him on police radar. Moffatt also had "a bit of a reputation as a troublemaker," Hendley told The Sault Star. Even though Moffatt was at a movie theatre the night of Mallette's death, he confessed under duress to killing the youngster. His parents, or a lawyer, were not present during an interrogation that Moffat says carried the threat of physical violence.

"It's going to get pretty physical here," he recalls Det. Adolphus Payne telling him. Payne arrested bank robber Edwin Alonzo Boyd in 1952.

The "acceptable attitude" at the time was police would not do wrong, said Hendley.

Based largely on that admission of guilt, Moffatt was found guilty of Mallette's death in December 1956.

"That was enough, really, to convict him," said Hendley. "There was not a huge amount of other evidence ... He was largely convicted on his own words in the confession."

From the time of his arrest, Moffatt spent 8 months in custody at several sites including Toronto Psychiatric Hospital where he was evaluated after his trial, a detention centre for youth and Ontario Training School for Boys in Bowmanville, Ont.

His name was not publicly released because of his age, but he feared other inmates would learn of what he supposedly did.

"That's not a good thing to be in prison for," he said. "Child killer. That's worse than a pedophile."

The son of Omar and Bette Moffatt didn't think he'd ever be released from custody. He expected he'd be transferred to the Don Jail in Toronto and hanged when he turned 18. The death penalty wasn't abolished in Canada until 1976.

"Imagine how terrifying that was for a 14-year-old boy," said Moffatt.

Mallette's actual killer was Peter Woodcock, a young serial killer who murdered 3 children in Toronto and molested others. Hendley calls him "one of the worst criminals to emerge in Toronto history."

A 2nd trial was held for Moffatt after Woodcock killed 4-year-old Carole Voyce in January 1957. Circumstances related to her death mirrored those of another young girl who was found in the Don Valley with Woodcock the previous year.

Moffatt's conviction was appealed. A retrial followed. Moffat had a new lawyer, Patrick Hartt, a defence attorney who could go toe-to-toe with Crown prosecutor Henry Bull. The latter lawyer was described by author Robert Hoshowsky in The Last to Die as being "unwilling to lose in any situation."

After Bull drove Moffatt to tears during his 1st trial, Hartt told his client to stand up to the prosecutor.

"The man saved my life," said Moffatt. "What a wonderful man. I never got the chance to really, really thank him."

Hartt was "Bull's equal" which "gave me confidence," he adds.

Moffatt was freed in May 1957, but he wouldn't shake the impact of his wrongful conviction for more than 20 years. Psychiatric help was needed for his anxiety and depression. He was on medication for his nerves. Perforated ulcers almost killed him.

"I was such an emotional wreck," said Moffatt. "I was traumatized. It took me years and years and years to ever get back to being normal."

He wondered why he couldn't lead a normal life.

"It was hard for me to function," he said. "Even though I only did 8 months it affected me for most of my life."

Never happy in Toronto, a girlfriend prompted him to move to the Sault in 1970. He went back to the provincial capital for about 4 years and married his 2nd wife Debbie in 1980. The couple lived in Edmonton for 7 years before returning to the Sault. Moffatt worked as a caretaker at several Algoma District School Board sites including William Merrifield, Korah Collegiate and Vocational School and Sir James Dunn Collegiate and Vocational School.

Moffatt, who dreamed of being a commercial artist and working for Walt Disney when he was a youngster, started doing editorial cartoons for Sault this Week in the late 1990s. His work has appeared in other news sources, including The Sault Star.

Moffatt's "given up" expecting any financial compensation for his experience, but is hopeful for an apology.

Moffatt approached Hendley (Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice, The Black Donnellys: The Outrageous Tale of Canada's Deadliest Feud) several years ago wanting him to tell his story.

"At least" 60 to 70 interviews, via email, Skype, telephone and in-person followed.

"I'm going to put this out," said Moffatt. "It's about time. It was like therapy to me to get this out."

Hendley and Moffatt will attend a book launch at Toronto Reference Library on Aug. 14.

The author quotes Moffat extensively in The Boy on the Bicycle. Many of the other major players in his story have died. Hartt is still alive, but Hendley couldn't find Moffatt's lawyer.

"I'm not sure how things would have resolved if Hartt had not gotten involved," said Hendley.

Investigators "had very little experience" with homicides 60 years ago and the sex murder of a child "was just so far off the radar that police were really fumbling in the dark," said Hendley. "A huge amount of (public) pressure" to make an arrest tied to Mallette's death helped narrow police interest in Moffatt.

Hendley wants Moffatt to get financial compensation from the provincial government "for basically messing up his life."

Truscott, wrongly imprisoned for a decade for the murder of Lynne Harper, 12, in Clinton, Ont., in 1959, received $6.5 million from the Ontario government in 2008.

Hendley was "astonished' to see several similarities between the 2 cases. Both incidents happened in the same decade. Moffatt and Truscott were the same age.

Hendley admires Moffatt's ability to deal with what happened and to get his life "back on track.

"I really admire him for that," he said. "It would be very easy to become incredibly bitter."

Canadian law still allows minors to be interrogated by police with no parent or lawyer present. Hendley wants that changed, arguing youth need "special handling.

"Otherwise they do tend to say stuff that isn't true," he said.

The public, Hendley adds, need to have "a degree of skepticism" about the courts.

"Even today the system can fall down," he said. "Authorities do make mistakes. They're only human."

The Boy on the Bicylce is available at www.chapters.indigo.ca and www.amazon.ca

(source: saulstar.com)

INDIA:

Shashi Tharoor introduces bill to Lok Sabha for abolishing death penalty

From 'Cattle Class' to 'Hindu Pakistan' Shashi Tharoor has shocked the people with his point-blank blunt remarks. However, he has defended his 'Hindu Pakistan' remark by saying, "There were 2 ideas, one of a country based on religion, which is Pakistan. And, the other where religion was irrelevant, which is India. Those challenging the very idea of India are in power right now," he said. ?Tharoor further called for unity, and said that the Congress party doesn't believe in division.

Tharoor, is now back in the news for introducing a bill in the Lok Sabha asking for the abolishment of death penalty. In a series of tweets, Tharoor has put forth his views why he finds the 'death penalty' as not a solution or a deterrent for crimes.

(source: thelivemirror.com)

AUGUST 4, 2018:

PENNSYLVANIA:

DA to seek death penalty for Raymond Rowe, who's accused of killing Christy Mirack

The Lancaster County District Attorney's office is officially pursuing the death penalty against disc jockey Raymond "DJ Freez" Rowe, who is accused of the brutal 1992 sexual assault and killing of 25-year-old schoolteacher Christy Mirack.

Rowe, 49, of Lancaster, was charged earlier this year after prosecutors said DNA from the crime scene matched Rowe's through a genealogy database.

In a July 30 notice of intent to seek the death penalty, Assistant District Attorney Christine L. Wilson cited as aggravating circumstances that the killing was committed while in perpetration of the felony offenses of burglary, rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Police said Mirack was getting ready for work at her East Lampeter Township home, dressed with gloves and a jacket, when Rowe confronted her inside the home, physically assaulted her, sexually assaulted her and strangled her to death, according to an affidavit filed with the homicide charge.

Police said Rowe's DNA matched six samples, consistent with sexual assault, taken from Mirack's body, according to the affidavit.

Rowe is represented by public defender Patricia Spotts, who had no comment Friday.

Rowe recently waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the charges of criminal homicide, 3 counts of rape, 2 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and burglary.

The next step in the court case is a formal arraignment scheduled for Aug. 24, at which Rowe will be advised of his rights and asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

District Attorney Craig Stedman declined further comment through spokesman Brett Hambright, who said the office "is essentially cutting off public comment on the case now that it is into court."

Currently there are 7 people on death row in Pennsylvania because they were sentenced to the death penalty following convictions in Lancaster County cases. They are Orlando Baez, Tedor Davido, Francis Harris, Landon May, Abraham Sanchez Jr., Leeton Thomas and Jakeem Towles.

The most recent conviction here to result in a death sentence was Thomas', in June 2017. Pennsylvania has not executed anyone since 1999, and Gov. Tom Wolf imposed a moratorium on executions in 2015.

(source: lancasteronline.com)

FLORIDA:

Lawyer withdraws in Bessman Okafor death penalty case, likely delaying trial

Bessman Okafor, the Orange County man who was convicted of killing a witness and had his death sentence overturned, agreed to have his defense attorney withdraw from the case Friday, likely delaying his retrial.

The attorney, Dean Mosley, told Circuit Judge John Marshall Kest that he had other time commitments that would keep him from giving the case the attention it needs. He declined to say what those commitments are, or comment about whether he's occupied with his campaign for circuit court judge.

"I'm acting in the best interest of my client," he said.

Kest appointed Orlando attorney Marc Burnham after Friday morning's hearing.

Okafor was convicted in the murder of Alex Zaldivar, a 19-year-old who was set to testify against him in a home-invasion case. At the time, Okafor was out on bond as part of a monitoring program that no longer exists in Orange County.

In 2015, his original jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of 11-1 just months before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Floridaís death penalty law unconstitutional because it did not require unanimity. His case is one of dozens sent back to the court system. A pool of new jurors will not have to determine whether Okafor is guilty, only whether to sentence him to life in prison or the death penalty.

The retrial was set for November. Mosley represented Okafor during his original trial, and Kest noted a new attorney will likely need more time to prepare for the case.

Alex Zaldivar's father, Rafael Zaldivar, said he was frustrated with the delays.

"You see how he was in there? He wants to pick his own damn attorney, even though we taxpayers are paying for it. No different than Markeith Loyd," he said, referring to the man accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police officer. Loyd asked for Miami death penalty specialist Terry Lenamon to defend him and, after more than a year with a local attorney, a judge granted the request last month.

Okafor asked how he would know his new attorney can try a death penalty case.

"How do I know he's qualified?" he asked Kest. The judge assured him that his new lawyer will be qualified.

Okafor's case was one of the 29 cases Gov. Rick Scott took away from Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala after she announced in 2017 she would not seek the death penalty for anyone, a stance she rescinded after the Florida Supreme Court ruled in Scott's favor.

The case is now assigned to State Attorney Brad King of Ocala, and being tried by Assistant State Attorney Ryan Williams who left Ayala's office to work for King. But Scott's executive orders for the cases are only in effect for 1 year, records show. Scott signed another order in June keeping Okafor's case with King's office until June 8, 2019, records show.

By then Scott, who is term-limited and not seeking re-election, will be out of the governor's office. Zaldivar said he worries about what will happen to the case after that.

"This is a disaster. The Ninth Judicial Circuit is a circus. It's a complete circus and it's an insult to us non-criminals out there," Zaldivar said. "It is a joke, and we need to fix it. But now we get another damn year, now we have to worry about the elections."

(source: Orlando Sentinel)

LOUISIANA:

A new furor over capital punishment in Louisiana

Down in the Bayou State, there's a clamor for more executions. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry makes no bones about his feelings. More executions -- including nitrogen gas, hangings, firing squads, electrocution and lethal injection. But a federal judge has put all executions in Louisiana on hold for another year.

There is a reason the death penalty is rarely enforced anymore, particularly in the federal judicial system. Too many innocent victims are being convicted, based on cover-ups and the withholding of exculpatory evidence by some federal and state prosecutors. A recent study published in the National Academy of Sciences concludes that some 4.1 % of inmates on death row are innocent. More than 4 %! If that were the rate of airplanes crashing, would you fly?

My alma mater, the University of North Carolina, completed a death penalty study in 2016, and found that in Louisiana, 127 of 155 death penalty cases over the past 40 years ended in reversal, some 10 points above the national average.

Since 2000, there have been only 2 executions while seven people in Louisiana, about to be put to death, were found to be innocent. The main reason? Prosecutorial misconduct.

For years, the Bayou State has held the title of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. It now has taken on the dubious title of having case after case of death row inmates being convicted based on the withholding of evidence that would prove their innocence.

New Orleans has become the cesspool for the innocent being convicted of capital crimes and sentenced to death. One of the most egregious is the case of New Orleanian John Thompson, who was convicted back in 1982 of 1st-degree murder and given the death sentence. He came within days of being executed after spending 14 years on death row and 18 years total in prison. 5 different prosecutors were involved in the case and all knew that a blood test, and other key evidence that showed Thompson was innocent, had been withheld by the prosecution.

On his deathbed and dying of cancer, one of the prosecutors confessed to a colleague that he had hidden the exculpatory blood sample.

The colleague waited 5 more years before admitting that he too knew of the hidden evidence. Thompson, after 18 years, received a new trial, and his lawyers were finally able to produce pieces of evidence that had been kept from Thompson's defense attorneys, that overwhelming showed he was innocent. The new jury took less than 35 minutes to find him not guilty.

Hiding evidence that can find the accused innocent is nothing new for prosecutors in New Orleans, both in state and federal court as well as with the FBI. The Innocence Project of New Orleans reviewed a number of convictions over the past 25 years in the city and concluded that prosecutors have a "legacy" of suppressing evidence. The Project said 36 men convicted in Orleans Parish alleged prosecutorial misconduct. 19 have since had their sentences overturned or reduced as a result. In 19 of 25 capital cases, the prosecutors withheld favorable evidence.

Then there is the chilling case of Dan Bright, convicted and put on death row for a murder he did not commit. Evidence came out years after his conviction that the FBI, thanks to a credible informant, had been in possession of the name of the actual killer all along. Luckily for Bright, because of the unconstitutional withholding of key evidence by the prosecution and the FBI, his conviction was thrown out, and he now is a free man.

The foreman of White's jury, who recommended that he be put to death, was Kathleen Norman. She was so incensed over White's wrongful conviction and the hiding of evidence that would have cleared him by the FBI, that she became head of the Louisiana Innocence project, helping others like White mount a credible defense.

Questionable conduct by rogue prosecutors who withhold information that could prove the innocence of an accused is far too prevalent. Whether one is for or against the death penalty, there is ample evidence that convictions of a capital crime can be a crapshoot based on the whims of some prosecutors who too often withhold evidence that shows the accused is innocent. Bobby Lee Swagger says in the movie Shooter, "This is the world we live in, and justice is not always fulfilled!"

Peace and Justice

(source: Jim Brown, stmarynow.com)

OHIO:

Serial killer Anthony Kirkland to jurors: 'Please spare my life'

Convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland stood at his sentencing hearing and, in a calm and steady voice, asked jurors to spare his life.

Though, he said, he'd understand if they recommended the death penalty for strangling, burning and dumping the bodies of 2 teenage girls -- one 14, the other 13.

"It has been stated that I am evil. It has been stated I am a monster," he said. "I cannot offer any justifiable response. I am not looking for absolution. Eventually I will answer to a higher authority. I do not blame you if you kill me. I do not deserve to live. Please spare my life."

Kirkland didn't have to speak on his own behalf, but his defense team is hoping Kirkland could help convince a jury to let him live. No other family members, as is sometimes the case in death penalty sentencing hearings, were among those who testified on his behalf.

Kirkland said kindergartners think they'll grow up to police officers, firefighters, doctors or teachers. They never think they'll be abused or become involved in drugs and alcohol or cause others grief, as has been his life, he said.

"I have hurt so many people," he said. "I am truly sorry. Please understand I am not here to beg for mercy, nor your forgiveness."

He paused.

Then he explained he was abused physically and mentally. Though that is not an "excuse," he said.

His speech lasted 3 minutes. He didn't look at jurors.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday. Then the jury - who heard testimony over the last 2 weeks - will be sequestered to make a sentencing recommendation.

The jury has been asked to recommend a sentence for the deaths of Casonya Crawford, 14, in 2006 and Esme Kenney, 13, in 2009. Kirkland strangled the girls, then burned their bodies. He attempted to rape Esme and forced her to perform a sex act on him when he was unsuccessful.

The Ohio Supreme Court overturned a previous death sentence for the girls' deaths, prompting the new sentencing hearing. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is again seeking a death sentence.

Jurors can recommend life sentences instead.

(source: cincinnati.com)

TENNESSEE----impending execution

Death row inmate could be executed next week

Tennessee could be finished with its 1st execution in almost a decade by this time next week.

Death row inmate Billy Ray Irick is scheduled to be put to death next Thursday.

The 59-year-old was convicted of rape and murder of a 7-year-old in 1985 in Knox County.

Advocates against his execution said he suffers from severe mental illness.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed an argument with the courts saying there is no reason the execution shouldnít proceed.

The National Alliance of Mental Health is pleading with Gov. Bill Haslam to commute Irick's sentence.

The group claims he suffers from mental illness, but it wasn't brought up in his trial and asks Haslam to change his sentence to life without parole.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people with mental illnesses and juveniles cannot be executed.

The execution process is something Haslam has been asked about before.

He had made it clear he has no desire to make any changes to the process.

The use of lethal injection was cleared for use last week by the courts, ahead of 3 scheduled executions this year.

That decision is being appealed, but won't be heard until after next week.

The governor addressed the issue last week and said the only way he would stop an execution is if there was a problem during the trial.

"My role is not to be a 13th juror. My job is not to decide if capital punishment is right or wrong. It's the law of this state," said Haslam. "My role is to see if the process broke down anywhere along the way."

Irick's execution is scheduled for Thursday. The last execution in Tennessee was Cecil Johnson in December 2009. Johnson had been convicted of 3 counts of 1st-degree murder in Davidson County.

(source: WSMV news)

MISSOURI:

Former corrections officers seek to block Missouri execution

Nearly 2 dozen former corrections officers from across the country have filed a court brief in support of a Missouri death row inmate's claim that his medical condition could cause an unconstitutionally cruel execution.

Russell Bucklew was sentenced to death in 1997 for killing a southeast Missouri man. Bucklew, 47, has been scheduled for execution twice in the last 4 years but was granted a stay each time. Bucklew has a rare condition called cavernous hemangioma, which causes blood-filled tumors in his neck and head.

His case is before the Missouri Supreme Court. It's unclear when the court will rule.

Bucklew's attorney, Robert N. Hochman, said in court documents that lethal injection "will not go smoothly."

But Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, in a separate filing, wrote that the growth in Bucklew's mouth had shrunk. Hawley disagreed that the condition presents a risk of suffering under lethal injection.

The Columbia Tribune reports that several briefs were filed on Bucklew's behalf, including 1 from 23 former corrections officers who turned death penalty opponents. They argue that such a high-risk execution places an unfair burden on corrections workers involved in the execution process.

Some of the corrections officers have witnessed or overseen multiple executions and some have served as executioners themselves.

"It's incredibly traumatic even in the best of circumstances for corrections officers to participate in executions," said Tejinder Singh, the attorney who filed the brief on behalf of the corrections officers. He said the burden is significantly worse when a medical condition comes into play.

"But when, as is here, there is a real risk the execution will be botched because of the inmate's unique medical condition leading to complication, the risk becomes truly intolerable. It becomes extreme and there is no good reason to force public servants into a position of carrying out those executions," Singh said.

Bucklew was convicted of killing Michael Sanders, 27, at his Cape Girardeau County home in front of his children, and kidnapping and raping his ex-girlfriend. A Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper found Bucklew in St. Louis County and Bucklew shot the trooper in a gunfight. The trooper survived.

Bucklew later escaped jail and attacked his ex-girlfriend's mother before being arrested again.

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

Death penalty sought beating death at Missouri campground

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against a man charged with a man's brutal killing at a southwest Missouri campground.

Miller County Prosecutor Ben Winfrey has filed a court notice of intent to seek the death penalty against 39-year-old John Joe Powell. He is accused of beating Mark Johnson of Colorado at the Iguana Campground in Miller County in September 2017.

The Lake Sun Leader reports that investigators believe Powell hit Johnson with a tire iron, stabbed him and dragged him behind a jeep.

Police found Johnson unconscious and tied to the rear of a Jeep. He died about a week after the confrontation.

(source for both: Associated Press)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

Prison director selects media witnesses for execution of Carey Dean Moore

Prison director Scott Frakes has selected 4 members of the media as witnesses for the Aug. 14 execution of death-row inmate Carey Dean Moore.

In a news release Friday, the Department of Correctional Services named Joe Duggan of the Omaha World-Herald, Grant Schulte of The Associated Press, Chip Matthews of News Channel Nebraska and Brent Martin of Nebraska Radio Network as media witnesses.

By state statute, Frakes may designate up to 6 people to witness an execution. At least 2 must be professional members of the Nebraska news media.

2 prison staff members, who are Moore's escorts, also will serve as witnesses, the prisons department said. Moore is allowed to select additional witnesses.

He's scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14, and his execution will be the 1st in Nebraska since Robert Williams' in 1997 and the state's 1st using lethal injection.

Moore received a death sentence for the shooting deaths of Reuel Van Ness Jr. and Maynard Helgeland in Omaha in 1979.

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)

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

Pope's Death Penalty Stance Won't Stop Execution, Nebraska's Catholic Governor Says

When Nebraska lawmakers defied Gov. Pete Ricketts in 2015 by repealing the death penalty over his strong objections, the governor wouldn't let the matter go. Mr. Ricketts, a Republican who is Roman Catholic, tapped his family fortune to help bankroll a referendum to reinstate capital punishment, a measure the state's Catholic leadership vehemently opposed.

After a contentious and emotional battle across this deep-red state, voters restored the death penalty the following year. Later this month, Nebraska is scheduled to execute Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of murder, in what would be the state's 1st execution in 21 years.

The prospect has renewed a tense debate in a state that has wrestled with the moral and financial implications of the death penalty for years, even before the 2015 attempt to abolish it. Protesters have been holding daily vigils outside the governor's mansion to oppose Mr. Moore's execution.

Complicating matters, Pope Francis this week declared that executions are unacceptable in all cases, a shift from earlier church doctrine that had accepted the death penalty if it was "the only practicable way" to defend lives. Coming only days before the scheduled Aug. 14 execution here, the pope's stance seemed to create an awkward position for Mr. Ricketts, who is favored to win a bid for re-election this fall.

Mr. Ricketts, who in the past has said that he viewed his position on the death penalty as compatible with Catholicism, on Thursday issued a statement about the pope's declaration.

"While I respect the pope's perspective, capital punishment remains the will of the people and the law of the state of Nebraska," Mr. Ricketts's statement said. "It is an important tool to protect our corrections officers and public safety. The state continues to carry out the sentences ordered by the court."

But opponents seized on the pope's comments. Nebraska's Catholic bishops urged people to contact state officials to stop the scheduled execution of Mr. Moore and cited the pope's teaching. "Simply put, the death penalty is no longer needed or morally justified in Nebraska," the bishops wrote.

Jane Kleeb, who leads the Nebraska Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Ricketts "is going against the teachings of the church" on the matter of executions.

"When you have a priest on Sunday talking about how we don't believe in the death penalty, I think that will matter to people," she said in an interview. "Nebraskans are churchgoers and believe in the church and strong family units, and they believe in people paying for their crimes, but not necessarily with their lives."

In many respects, Mr. Moore, 60, has become an afterthought in the buildup to his own execution. He has been on the state's death row longer than any of the other 11 other men and is among the longest-serving prisoners on any death row in the nation's history.

The execution planned here has also become part of a national dispute over the use of drugs in death chambers. Nebraska, which was still using an electric chair the last time it executed someone in 1997, has said Mr. Moore will be the state's 1st execution by lethal injection, using a combination of 4 drugs, including fentanyl. Nebraska officials have refused to disclose where they obtained the drugs. The execution would be the nation's 1st to use fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that has been at the center of the nation's overdose crisis.

Though the state has had capital punishment on the books for most of the past century, it very rarely condemns people to death and even more rarely kills them. In the United States, executions have been on the decline for years. In 1999, there were 98 executions across the nation, compared to 23 in 2017, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. So far this year, there have been 14.

While 31 states still have death penalty statutes, only 10, including Texas, Ohio and Florida, have carried out executions since 2014, according to the center. During the past decade, several states have placed moratoriums on capital punishment or abolished it altogether. The most recent was Delaware, which banned the death penalty in 2016.

The crimes Mr. Moore committed - the murders of 2 Omaha taxi drivers, Reuel Van Ness Jr. and Maynard Helgeland, during a 5-day span in 1979 - occurred so long ago that many in Nebraska know about them only through newspaper articles.

For years, Mr. Moore, who admitted to the killings, has made it clear that he is ready to die. He has dismissed his lawyers and refused to take part in efforts to spare his life. He has told friends that, as a born-again Christian, he believes he will be in the presence of God upon his death, his sins forgiven, said Geoff Gonifas, his longtime pastor.

"No one's happy a man's life is going to be taken," said Michael Fischer, 35, a Republican and a financial planner in Omaha who, like many along the streets here, said he supported capital punishment. "But if you take the death penalty off the books, the fear is there won't be strong discouragement for people to commit crimes."

In 2016, in part through the governor's efforts, 61 % of Nebraska voters chose to rescind a ban on the death penalty that an unlikely coalition of Democratic and Republican lawmakers had passed a year before.

In Lincoln, the state capital, where a unicameral legislature is officially nonpartisan but is dominated by Republicans, the battle over the death penalty has gone on for decades. State Senator Ernie Chambers, an independent from Omaha and one of the Legislature's most outspoken members, tries nearly every year to push legislation to abolish capital punishment and has clashed bluntly with Mr. Ricketts.

Opposition to the death penalty in this state has often centered on matters of religion and morality, but also money. An essential argument that helped an array of lawmakers support an end to capital punishment was the extensive costs involved before a prisoner is actually executed.

"If any other government program had been as inefficient as this one, we would have gotten rid of it," said Colby Coash, a former Republican state senator who was instrumental in convincing other conservatives to support the death penalty repeal in 2015. "How is killing someone 20 years after the crime justice for anyone?"

Mr. Chambers, who once described the death penalty debate as "a personal struggle between me and the governor," called Mr. Ricketts "evil" during a recent interview. A spokesman for the governor responded by questioning Mr. Chambers's religious tolerance.

Mr. Ricketts, scion of the TD Ameritrade family fortune and an owner of the Chicago Cubs, has made the death penalty a signature issue as he seeks a 2nd term as governor. In the past, he has repeatedly said that capital punishment deters violent crime. He contributed $300,000 to help with a petition drive that led to the restoration of the death penalty by voters.

Mr. Ricketts declined requests to be interviewed for this story, but in an interview in The Omaha World-Herald in 2015, the governor said that his position in favor of executions was in keeping with the tenets of his faith.

"The Catholic Church does not preclude the use of the death penalty under certain circumstances: That guilt is determined and the crime is heinous. Also, protecting society," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "As I've thought about this and meditated on it and prayed on it and researched it, I've determined itís an important tool."

Some have suggested that Mr. Ricketts's own family's experience with violence may have affected his views, though the governor has rarely addressed the issue publicly. In a meeting in 2015 with death penalty opponents, first reported by The World-Herald, participants said the governor spoke to them about the troubling death of a cousin, Ronna Anne Bremer, in Missouri years ago.

Ms. Bremer, 22, was the mother of 2 children and was pregnant when she disappeared in the 1980s. 3 years after she disappeared, her skull was mailed to the local sheriff's department. The authorities said they believe she was murdered, but they never made an arrest in the case.

(source: New York Times)

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

Lack of transparency on execution

I have been following the proposed execution of death row inmate Carey Dean Moore. The State of Nebraska refuses to tell anyone where the execution drugs came from. As taxpayers, we have a right to know.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers thinks Pfizer made them. Pfizer has asked for the drugs back because they don't want to be associated with drugs that cause death.

Can you blame them?

Nebraska has not complied. The State of Nebraska is not being open about this. The State Department of Correctional Services needs to be reformed and made to answer under the open records law. Until then, the department should not be allowed to proceed with this execution.

As a Catholic, I feel the death penalty in Nebraska must end. Life in prison without parole is the only moral choice.

Bill Gaughan, Omaha

(source: Letter to the Editor, Omaha World-Herald)

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

Nebraska Supreme Court says death row inmate Torres raised question too late

The Nebraska Supreme Court rejected death-row inmate Marco Torres Jr.'s appeal of a district court's denial of a post-conviction relief hearing to challenge the state's method of determining who gets the ultimate punishment.

The state's highest court found the challenge was filed too late because he didn't raise the issue within a year of the Jan. 12, 2016, decision in Hurst v. Florida.

Torres's attorney, Jeff Pickens of the Public Advocacy Commission, argued that the U.S. Supreme Court decision - which said jurors must make every finding necessary in order for someone to be sentenced to death - put the constitutionality of Nebraska's sentencing procedures in doubt.

In a decision Friday, the court didn't address that question, saying only that Torres' motion was time-barred under the Nebraska Postconviction Act and that the district court judge was right to deny him a hearing.

"Torres' successive motion is not timely ... because he filed his motion more than 1 year after the release of the opinions in Hurst and Johnson - the U.S. Supreme Court cases that Torres contends announced a 'newly recognized right,'" wrote Justice Stephanie Stacy.

In Hurst, the nation's high court found that a man's death sentence in a 1998 murder case violated the Sixth Amendment because, under Florida's sentencing scheme, a judge, not a jury, made the critical findings necessary to impose the death penalty.

In Nebraska, juries decide whether aggravating factors exist to justify an execution. If so, a 3-judge panel then determines whether the aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating factors in the defendant's favor to warrant a death sentence.

Torres, 43, was sent to death row on 2 counts of 1st-degree murder for killing roommates Timothy Donohue, 48, and Edward Hall, 60, in Grand Island in 2007. His DNA was found at the crime scene and he had used Hall's debit card 2 days before his body was found.

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)

USA:

Thou Shalt Not Kill----Pope Francis declares capital punishment unambiguously wrong. No exceptions.

Pope Francis's condemnation of capital punishment is simple and unambiguous: It is inadmissible. No exceptions for especially heinous crimes; no loopholes allowing execution when other lives might be in jeopardy, as in past Catholic teachings. No, declared the pope; state-sanctioned killing is always an unjustifiable attack on the dignity of human life, it's always wrong.

That it is. It is an arbitrary and hugely expensive barbarism whose victims in the United States are often black, poor or mentally disturbed - and sometimes innocent. Over the past 45 years, when 1,479 people were executed in this country, 162 people sentenced to death have been exonerated. All the arguments for executing criminals have been debunked: It is useless as a deterrent and it does not save lives by getting rid of murderers. Many countries, including nearly all Western democracies with the shameful exception of the United States, have rejected it.

Since his election to the papacy 5 years ago, Francis has introduced a less formal, more pragmatic and progressive approach to his ministry, taking strong stands on issues like climate change and consumerism. His approach has often drawn criticism from Catholic conservatives, and the new teaching on the death penalty is bound to generate a heated debate - indeed it already has - on what it means for Catholic judges and politicians in the United States.

The church's new position on the death penalty carries no formal punishment for defying it, but in eliminating any ambiguity it does compel Catholic officials at least to find concrete reasons to not abide by it. 4 Supreme Court justices are Catholic, as is Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee for the court; among governors, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, a Catholic and staunch supporter of the death penalty, has already declared that he will not block an execution scheduled for this month.

There will also be conservative Catholics who reject the pope's reasoning for changing his church's teaching on capital punishment after centuries in which it was tolerated. A letter to bishops accompanying the revised teaching explained at length that it was a development of the teachings of the last 2 popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, reflecting changes in awareness that had taken place in recent times.

Yet the importance of the pope's definitive rejection of capital punishment is not solely for Catholics, or for Christians, as the Vatican made clear in saying that the church would work "for its abolition worldwide."

Capital punishment has been long abandoned across Europe and indefinitely suspended in Russia, and even in the United States its use has been declining for years. There were 23 executions in 2017, compared to 98 in 1999, and 14 so far this year. And though 31 states still allow the death penalty, only 10 have carried out executions since 2014.

The man awaiting execution in Nebraska is a prime example of the absurdity of capital punishment. Carey Dean Moore, now 60, has been on death row for 38 years and few Nebraskans remember what he was condemned for. How taking his life would serve justice is a mystery even to many state legislators, who voted to repeal the death penalty in 2015, only to have Governor Ricketts lead a campaign to restore it.

President Trump would most likely be on Mr. Ricketts' side, not the pope's. The president has expressed support for the death penalty several times, as in this tweet after a man killed 8 people with a truck in New York City last October: "NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!"

In fact, very few of those who have been executed or are on death row committed anything as monstrous as that terror attack by Sayfullo Saipov, who is awaiting trial. Yet even the most serious crimes, in Pope Francis's view, do not deprive the perpetrator of the "dignity of the person," and modern prisons are fully capable of protecting citizens from him or her.

For those who have long opposed capital punishment as cruel and pointless, as has this page, the only lingering question is why the Catholic Church or any religious denomination that still condones executions would take so long to recognize that they are simply inadmissible. The same can be asked of Americans, whose Constitution so clearly prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

(source: Editorial Board, New York Times)

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

You can be put to death for these 36 offenses - according to the Bible

36 different offenses in the Bible qualified for capital punishment. How many of these apply to you?

In a Texas murder case that ultimately reached the Supreme Court, a juror brought a Bible into the sentencing process - showing that the Bible recommends death for anyone who kills another person with an iron rod (Numbers 35:16).

Astonishingly, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to revisit the case. The court argued that even though bringing the Bible into the sentencing was improper, there is no evidence that it swayed the jury. Rest assured that when the Bible and other authorities (like our judicial system ) are at odds, we can trust Texas jurors to ignore the Bible and do what is right. Half the country believes that God made humans in their present form because the Bible says so - but we can count on believers (school boards excepted) to follow the evidence and the constitution.

All the same, just in case an issue like this should come up in your state, 36 different offenses in the Bible qualified for capital punishment. Do any of these apply to you?

Cursing Parents----For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. Leviticus 20:9

Working on the Sabbath----Whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Exodus 31:15

Premarital Sex (girls only)----If, however, this charge is true, that evidence of the young woman's virginity was not found, then they shall bring the young woman out to the entrance of her father's house and the men of her town shall stone her to death, Deuteronomy 22:20

Disobedience (boys only)----If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. They shall say to the elders of his town, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard." Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. Deuteronomy 21:18

Worshipping any god but Yahweh----If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that . . . hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; . . .Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. Deuteronomy 17:2-5

Witches----Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Exodus 22: 18

Wizards (epileptics? migraine sufferers? schizophrenics?)----A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:27

Loose Daughters of Clergy----And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire. Leviticus 21:9

Girls who are Raped within the City Limits----If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city . . . But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. Deuteronomy 22:23-25

Blasphemers----And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:16

Anyone Who Tries to Deconvert Yahweh Worshipers----If anyone secretly entices you - even if it is your brother, your father's son or your mother's son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend -saying, "Let us go worship other gods," . . . you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them. Deuteronomy 12:6

Men who Lie With Men----If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

Adulterers----And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20: 10-12

Men who Lie with Beasts and Beasts who Lie with Men----And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast. Leviticus 20:15

So. Are you up for the death penalty?

Just so you know, it could be worse. As I am reminded by people who want me to make nice, this list represents an advancement from mob justice. They are right, and the Levitical Code would a fascinating window into human moral history were it not for the fact that juries in Texas, politicians in Colorado, and clergy in Africa all advocate the death penalty for 1 person or another on the basis of these texts (murderers, homosexuals, and child witches respectively).

When people put God's name on Iron Age documents, and then make those documents a golden calf, they get stuck with Iron Age moral thinking. Maybe it's time to take the Bible down off of its pedestal, and acknowledge the obvious human handprints on the texts. Maybe it's even time to do again what Thomas Jefferson did: cut the book apart, keep the parts that are worth keeping, and leave the rest on the floor in the cutting room of history.

(source: Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington----rawstory.com)

IRAN----execution

Prisoner Hanged in Zahedan

A prisoner was executed at Zahedan Central Prison on murder charges.

According to a close source, on the morning of Thursday, August 2, a prisoner was hanged at Zahedan Central Prison. The prisoner, sentenced to death on murder charges, was identified as Miran Baluchi, son of Mohtaj, from Nik-Shahr.

The execution of this prisoner has not been announced by the state-run media so far.

According to Iran Human Rights annual report on the death penalty, 240 of the 517 execution sentences in 2017 were implemented due to murder charges. There is a lack of a classification of murder by degree in Iran which results in issuing a death sentence for any kind of murder regardless of intensity and intent.

\ **************************

36 Executions in July

According to confirmed reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR), the death sentences of at least 36 people were implemented in different Iranian cities in the month of July.

So far in 2018, at least 133 people have been executed, among them 4 juvenile offenders. An assessment of the charges of the prisoners who were executed in July shows that 11 prisoners were sentenced to death on Moharebeh (waging war against God) charges, 24 on murder charges, and 1 on drug-related charges.

Among the prisoners who were executed last month, there was also a woman, says the report. 8 of the prisoners who were executed on Moharebeh charges were sentenced to death over the alleged 2017 ISIS attacks on Tehran's parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Several reports indicated that some of the executed prisoners were not directly involved in the attacks and were sentenced to death on the charge of having information about the operation and, in some cases, providing the attackers with logistic support.

1 of the executions of the last month was based on drug-related charges. It was the 2nd drug-related execution that was reported by IHR after the enforcement of the new drug law on November 14, 2017. The new drug law includes a mechanism to decrease death penalty verdicts and reduce the sentence of those prisoners who are sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Only 1/2 of the executions (18) were announced by the official Iranian news sources. The other 18 cases were confirmed by IHR's sources. The actual number of executions might be higher.

(source for both: Iran Human Rights)

GLOBAL:

Vatican declares death penalty 'inadmissible'----Pope Francis has decreed that capital punishment constitutes an 'attack' on the dignity of human beings.

The Roman Catholic Church says it has changed its teaching to declare the death penalty "inadmissible" to reflect that all life is sacred and there is no justification for state-sponsored executions.

The Vatican said on Thursday Pope Francis approved the revision to say that capital punishment constitutes an "attack" on the dignity of human beings.

The change will be reflected in the most important guide to church teaching, the catechism.

Previously, the catechism said the church did not exclude recourse to capital punishment "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor".

In an accompanying letter explaining the change, Cardinal Ladaria, head of the Vatican's doctrine, said the development of Catholic doctrine on capital punishment did not contradict prior teaching but rather was an evolution of it.

Pope Francis has long railed against the death penalty. In March 2015 letter to the president of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, he wrote, "Today, capital punishment is unacceptable, however, serious the condemned's crime may have been."

The letter added: "It entails cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment."

Death penalty

Last year, 53 countries issued death sentences and 23 of them executed at least 993 people, according to Amnesty International.

Most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

In the United States, 23 people were executed, a slight increase from 2016 but a low number compared with historical trends, Amnesty said.

Among Americans, 54 % favour the punishment for people convicted of murder, while 39 % are opposed, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted this year.

Capital punishment is banned in most of Europe, with Belarus being the only European country that carried out executions in 2017, Amnesty said.

By the end of last year, 106 countries worldwide had banned the death penalty.

But this week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey could soon move to reinstate the death penalty, which it had abolished in 2004 as part of the country's bid to join the European Union.

(source: aljazeera.com)

PHILIPPINES:

Palace: Restoration of death penalty still a priority

Malacanang said that President Duterte is far from giving up on the restoration of capital punishment as the bill which seeks the reimposition of death penalty faces a hurdle in the Senate.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after Pope Francis declared that death penalty is never admissible and that the Catholic Church will work towards its abolition around the world.

Roque, in a press briefing in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, said that the fate of death penalty in the Philippines is now in the hands of the Senate.

"I think the matter of the death penalty is in the hands of the senators now. So we leave it to the Senate whatever decision they may have," he said Friday.

"It is still this administration's priority to restore death penalty for serious drug-related offenses," he added.

"But the decision, since the bill was already passed in the House of Representatives, is now with the Senate," he reiterated.

However, Roque said that President Duterte will still try to convince senators to restore capital punishment in the country after it was abolished in 2006.

"The President would still try gentle persuasion but it's really a decision of the senators now," Roque said.

Last year, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had earlier expressed that the bill might not pass the Senate, saying there are at least 13 senators who will block the passage of the bill.

President Duterte has been pushing for the restoration of capital punishment in the country. However, the public has criticized the Congress after the House Majority bloc decided to exclude plunder, rape, and treason from the list of the crimes punishable with death.

The exclusion is reportedly to help them arrive at a compromise after some lawmakers remained hesitant about voting in favor of House Bill No. 4727.

Earlier, Malacanang said that the reimposition of capital punishment is an important component in keeping a crime-free and drug-free Philippines.

"The reimposition of death penalty is an important component in building a trustworthy government that protects its citizens and youth from crime, especially the kind perpetrated by illegal drug traffickers and violators," Malacanang had said.

Earlier, Duterte said that he would like to know the rationale why Congress decided to exclude plunder and rape form the list of crimes punishable with death penalty under the said House Bill.

Duterte said that while he did not say he will not kill plunderers or corrupt officials, he said that rape is still one of the most heinous crimes that should merit the heaviest penalty.

(source: Manila Bulletin)

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

Death penalty revival remains Palace priority despite Pope's call

Restoring the death penalty remains a priority of the Duterte administration, despite the Vaticanís pronouncement that it is "inadmissible" in any circumstance.

"It is still a priority of this administration to restore the death penalty for serious, drug-related offenses," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing on Friday, a day after Pope Francis approved a change in Catholic catechism that had previously accepted capital punishment as a "last recourse ... [to] effectively defend human lives against the unjust aggressor."

The new teaching in Catechism No. 2267 now says there are other ways to protect the common good, and that the Church should commit itself to working to end capital punishment.

According to the new text, "the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person."

The Church acknowledged that it had "long considered recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority and following a fair trial ... an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good."

But it added that "[t]oday, there is increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes."

Pope Francis has long opposed the death penalty, saying that the execution of a human being is fundamentally against the teachings of Christ because, by definition, it excludes the possibility of redemption.

Feeds vengeance

"It doesn't give justice to victims, but it feeds vengeance," the Pope said in June 2016, arguing that the biblical commandment "thou shall not kill" applies to the innocent as well as the guilty.

The death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 2006 but President Duterte has been actively pushing for its restoration despite resistance from the Senate.

Roque said the decision now lay with the Senate, but that the President would try "gentle persuasion" to convince the lawmakers of the need for the death penalty.

In a text message to reporters on Friday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would "try to find some kind of a compromise," to convince his colleagues to support the death penalty bill.

Sotto earlier said senators would be more likely to support the bill if the death penalty only targeted high-level drug traffickers.

But in a separate message to reporters, former Senate President and Duterte party mate Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III categorically said the Senate "won't reimpose the law."

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, reiterated the stand of the Liberal Party (LP) in opposing the restoration of the death penalty.

"We do not see it as a deterrent to crime," the LP president said.

Heinous crimes

The Senate seemed "somewhat divided on the issue," Sen. Sonny Angara said.

Although the House passed a bill reviving the death penalty for major drug offenses in March 2017, it has remained at the committee level in the Senate.

At the House of Representatives, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said he "welcomes the Pope's pronouncement," and hoped the government would stop pushing for the return of capital punishment.

Allowing the death penalty violates the Constitution and the government's treaties with the United Nations, Atienza said, adding that proponents of capital punishment "transcended God who created human life."

Under the 1987 Constitution, the death penalty shall not be imposed but Congress may pass a law prescribing death for heinous crimes.

The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, has a history of invoking and suspending capital punishment.

4 months after the declaration of martial law in September 1972, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos ordered the execution of notorious drug lord Lim Seng to serve, Marcos said, as a deterrent against the growing drug menace.

Between 1946 and 1965 - the year when Marcos became President - 35 people were executed for crimes committed with "senseless depravity" or "extreme criminal perversity."

From 1971 to 1972, several laws were passed and presidential decrees issued that made hijacking, drug offenses, car theft, subversion, illegal possession of firearms, arson, embezzlement and illegal fishing capital crimes.

In 1987, former President Corazon Aquino abolished the death penalty "unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, [and] Congress hereafter provides for it."

Lethal injection

In 1993, Congress passed Republic Act (RA) No. 7659, which reimposed capital punishment. The law was amended in 1996, prescribing lethal injection for those convicted of heinous crimes.

Between 1999 and 2000 during the term of then President Joseph Estrada, 7 inmates were put to death as part of the administration's anticrime drive.

In June 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed RA 9346 and abolished the death penalty, saying it had not proven to be a deterrent to crime.

Although more than 2/3 of countries around the world have abolished or suspended judicial killings, the human rights organization Amnesty International has recorded at least 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries and nearly 1,000 executions in 2017 alone, excluding those unreported in China.

(source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

PAKISTAN:

Cops' murderer gets death penalty

An anti-terrorism court awarded death sentence to the murderer of 2 police officials in the prison van on 3 counts. According to the police, a sessions court of Khushab announced death penalty to convict Nasrullah of Quaidabad in the murder case of 2002.

He was being shifted to jail after court decision in prison van.

He snatched the official gun from a cop and sprinkled a volley of bullets. Resultantly, 2 policemen identified as Shafqat and Ashiq Hussain died on the spot while 2 others Ramazan and Aslam sustained injuries.

However the other police staff on duty had to run away. The anti-terrorism court in Sargodha division announced 3 counts death penalty to the convict and also ordered for the payment of Rs2 million which will be given to the heirs of the affected families as compensation. Police shifted him in stringent security to jail.

(source: The Nation)

INDIA:

6 on death row for 'human sacrifice' case move HC

6 death convicts in a sensational human sacrifice case of Yavatmal, moved the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court challenging death penalty awarded to them on August 14 last year.

A division bench comprising justices Pradip Deshmukh and Murlidhar Giratkar on Friday, adjourned the hearing till August 7, after petitioners' counsel Rajendra Daga completed arguments from the defence's side. He contended that his clients were falsely implicated, as the prosecution failed to establish the chain of circumstances. The prosecution would start its arguments from Tuesday.

The accused - Manoj, Punaji, Ramchandra, Motiram and Devidas Atram, Yadavrao Tekam, and Yashodabai Meshram - were convicted by the Yavatmal Sessions Court for allegedly 'sacrificing' 7-year-old Sapna Palaskar on October 23, 2012.

The residents of Choramba village in Ghatanji tehsil, were found guilty under section 302 of IPC and were slapped with Rs5,000 fine each. One of their accomplices in the sensational killing Durga Shirbhate, was awarded 5 years of rigorous imprisonment. About 13 witnesses were examined by the prosecution.

It was on Shirbhate's instance that the accused committed the heinous act as they were told that the goddess needs 'human blood' of a child to save the entire village from its wrath. The victim was taken to Meshram's home where the accused allegedly chopped her head after performing rituals and buried the body outside the home. The incident came to light after about 1 1/2 months when the girl's parents lodged a missing complaint with the police that led to recovery of her body parts.

(source: indiatimes.com)

AUGUST 3, 2018:

NEW YORK:

Cuomo to push bill that would end NY's death penalty law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he'll introduce legislation that would remove the death penalty from New York state law.

The Democrat made the announcement Thursday after the Vatican said Pope Francis decreed the death penalty is "inadmissible" under all circumstances.

Cuomo says his proposal is being made in solidarity with the pope and in honor of his late father, Mario Cuomo, a staunch death penalty opponent during his 3 terms as New York governor from 1983 to 1994.

The elder Cuomo vetoed legislation reinstating the death penalty 12 times in 12 years.

New York's death penalty was reinstated in 1995 while Republican George Pataki was governor. The state's highest court ruled it unconstitutional in 2004. The state hasn't executed a prisoner since 1963.

(source: Associated Press)

VIRGINIA:

Va. death penalty opponents welcome pope's new teaching against executions

Catholic officials and death penalty opponents in Virginia - which has put to death more people in modern times than any other state except Texas - welcomed Pope Francis' new teaching against the death penalty on Thursday, though the impact of the change remains unclear.

Previously, the Catholic Church has said executions could be carried out in rare instances. In a change announced Thursday, the Catholic teaching now states that executions are "inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person."

Bill Re, associate director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, said it "has long advocated for an end to the use of the death penalty in Virginia and will continue to do so."

"We take this opportunity to urge our state lawmakers to put an end to the death penalty and to make respect for life the priority in the many decisions they make," Re said.

According to the Virginia Catholic Conference, there are nearly 700,000 registered Catholics in the state, or 8.3 % of the state population of 8.4 million.

With 113 executions since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, Virginia is 2nd in the country only to Texas, which had 553 executions during the same period.

Last year, Virginia executed Ricky Gray, who murdered a family in Richmond, and William Morva, who murdered a deputy sheriff and hospital security guard in Blacksburg.

Michael E. Stone, executive director of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said, "The abolition movement is very pleased by the updated teaching from the Catholic Church that capital punishment is never admissible.

"This change from Pope Francis was the culmination of increasingly critical writings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI on the death penalty. As a lifelong Catholic, I am proud of the leadership of church leaders on this life issue," he said.

Andrew Chesnut, the Bishop Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, said, "Practically speaking, the church's new policy of total opposition to capital punishment is aimed at the United States."

Chesnut said a new Pew Research Center poll shows that a significant majority of white American Catholics are in favor of the death penalty despite the church being one of the major opponents.

"The new policy will give greater ammunition to Catholics fighting to abolish it in the U.S. but will probably not sway those parishioners who support it, many of whom view the Argentine pontiff as too liberal on issues of social policy," Chesnut said.

A spokesman for the Virginia attorney general's office, which defends challenges to death sentences, declined to comment Thursday.

Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring, who won the death sentence against Gray, said he could not comment on the pope's action because of the approaching capital murder trial of Travis Ball, who is charged with the slaying of a Virginia State Police special agent.

Chesnut said that of the 52 countries that still execute convicted criminals, the U.S. is both the only major Western country and the only one with a significant Catholic population - the 4th-largest in the world, he said.

He said that as the 1st Latin American pope, Francis has put mercy and social justice at the top of his agenda, so the new position on capital punishment comes as no surprise.

"One of the fixtures of his foreign tours, including the U.S., are visits to prisons, which in his native Latin America are hellholes often controlled by criminal elements," Chesnut said.

Virginia authorities said Thursday that there have been no executions this year and none is currently scheduled.

The Virginia Department of Corrections says Virginia has 3 inmates on death row. According to figures from the Death Penalty Information Center, of the 34 states with capital punishment, Virginia has one of the smallest death rows in the country.

(source: The Daily Progress)

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Was the Colonies' First Death Penalty Handed to a Mutineer or Spy?

The 7 original councillors of what would soon become the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, had voyaged for 5 long months between Great Britain and the New World. After nearly three weeks of looking, they chose the land for their new settlement of over 100 people on a swampy island in what is today the James River. Among them were two men at odds with one another: their president, Captain Edward Maria Wingfield, and young Captain George Kendall.

Less than 2 years after his arrival in the country, Kendall would be executed - though for which crime remained somewhat of a mystery.

The island was isolated and cramped, with limited water and swathes of mosquitos. Rather than vast fortunes of silver and gold, the settlers instead found hostile Native Americans, sickness and discord. Kendall got to work building fortifications on the island out of "boughs of tree cast together in a half-moon," but tensions were brewing as supplies dwindled. Eventually, writes Frank E. Grizzard in his history of the colony, Kendall was "voted off the council, arrested and confined" to their ship.

In the meantime, others in the group were plotting to overthrow their elected president. Wingfield was eventually ejected and replaced, and Kendall was allowed to leave the ship, if he agreed not to carry a weapon. Even a new leader couldn't dissipate the rising disharmony among the men, however. When James Read, a blacksmith, attempted to strike their new president, he was sentenced to death - but managed to escape almost with the noose around his neck by revealing that Kendall had hatched a plan with the deposed Wingfield to carry out a mutiny. Kendall was thus tried, condemned and killed by a firing squad.

But the story was more complicated than that. The death penalty was not a common punishment for mutiny: after all, the others embroiled in the plot had all been spared. Kendall seems to have been a man of rank and influence, writes the historian Philip L. Barbour. He was at once a genuine threat and above being hanged like a common criminal. A curious reference to "heinous matters" in the men's accounts reveals the truth: Kendall was up to something far more serious than simple mutiny - he had double-crossed not just his leader, but his entire country, as a spy for the Spanish.

Francisco Maguel, an Irishman, was with the men when Kendall died and travelled to America with them, Barbour explains. Speaking to the Irish archbishop on his return, Maguel told them how the English had tried a man "because they learned that he had tried to get to Spain in order to reveal to His Majesty all about this country and many plans of the English." This treason, if accurate, would have more than warranted the death penalty, even if Kendall's high rank got him out of a common hanging.

Kendall earned himself a place in history as the first known person to be sentenced to the Western death penalty in what is today the United States. For centuries, he has been little more than a footnote in textbooks - until 1996, when archaeologists found the skeleton of a young white man buried in the walls of the original fort in Jamestown. The person had been shot multiple times, and buried in a coffin, suggesting a person of status. Could this have been Kendall?

4 years after Kendall's execution, Virginia's governor codified the death penalty by law. All sorts of crimes carried this punishment, from fraternizing with Native Americans to stealing fruit or killing chickens without permission. For the next 2 centuries, public hangings became commonplace in the state and across the country more generally.

But in the 19th century, the tide began to turn. In a small number of states, starting with Pennsylvania, the death penalty was abolished either entirely or for all crimes except treason. (Kendall, therefore, would not have been safe.) The last 2 centuries have seen even more states shifting in their allegiance to the death penalty, adjusting over the years to court rulings and changing political climates. Today, 410 years after Kendall's execution, capital punishment is illegal in 19 states, but remains legal in 31 - including Virginia.

(source: history.com)

FLORIDA:

Gillum Vows To Suspend, Review Death Penalty In Florida

Saying "justice delayed is not justice denied," Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, told CBS Miami if he is elected governor he would suspend the use of the death penalty in Florida until he could be certain there was no bias in the system.

"I don't believe [the death penalty] is applied fairly," said Gillum, 1 of 5 candidates vying to become the Democratic nominee for governor this year.

He said he would refuse to sign death warrants "until we can come up with some answers as to why it is there seems to be in this state a racial bias when it comes to the application of the death penalty."

"I believe that we ought to have an in-depth analysis on why it is that in cases where the defendant is a person of color," he added, "that it appears ... even in cases of similar crimes being committed between a white defendant and a black defendant, black defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty."

Gillum has previously said he would also seek to suspend the state's Stand Your Ground law. This was the 1st time, however, he suggested using the power of the governor's office to stymie executions.

"I am not a death penalty opponent," Gillum said, noting he disagreed with Orange-Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala who made headlines when she said she would not prosecute death penalty cases. In response, Governor Rick Scott took all of the possible death penalty cases away from her office and re-assigned them to other offices. Gillum said disagreed with how both Scott and Ayala handled the situation. (Ayala recently endorsed Gillum.)

"Where we agree is that we both know, as do a lot of researchers in this state and those nationally who have observed the application of the death penalty in this state, we know there is bias in the system," he said. "We need to figure that out."

He said he did not know how long that review would take.

"We've got brilliant minds and we've got brilliant partners in organizations all around this state that can aid us in getting to the bottom of this," he said. "There was a very good strong report done by the Sarasota Herald Tribune about a year and a half ago that talked about the bias on the bench."

Gillum is likely to be criticized by victim advocates and the families of murder victims who are waiting to see their loved ones killer executed.

"Well first of all, justice delayed is not justice denied," he said. "Justice will be had here. But you've got to ensure that when it comes to taking the life of another living breathing human being that we have to be absolutely certain that we don't have bias in the system."

(source: CBS News)

OHIO:

Joe Deters reconciled his faith with the death penalty: 'There is evil in this world'

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters a long time ago reconciled his Catholic faith with the idea that sometimes he must seek the death penalty in killings that are the worst of the worst.

His faith allowed the death penalty in limited circumstances and Deters agreed that for the worst of the worst criminals, a death sentence was sometimes necessary.

But as Deters pursues a death penalty sentence against convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland, he woke up to a published report that Pope Francis changed Catholic Church teaching about the death penalty. In a new policy published Thursday, the pope now says, the death penalty is always "inadmissible" because it "attacks" the inherent dignity of all humans.

It didn't change the mind of the longtime prosecutor.

"My dear friends who are priests don't understand what we're dealing with," Deters said. "There is evil in this world and there comes a point where society needs to defend itself."

Kirkland, he said, "would kill again if he got the chance."

Kirkland, 49, killed 3 women and 2 teenage girls before he was caught in 2009. He killed Leona Douglas, 28, in 1989, when he was 18 years old and served a 16-year prison sentence. He was released in 2003 and Kirkland started killing again in 2006. Kirkland killed Casonya Crawford, 14; Mary Jo Newton, 45; and Kimya Rolison, 25, in 2006. And then he killed Esme Kenney, 13, in 2009.

He strangled or stabbed his victims, then burned their bodies and fled. He told police, in a confession, "Fire purifies."

Kirkland was convicted in 2010 and is serving life prison terms for killing the adult women. But a death penalty sentence imposed for killing the teenagers was overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court, prompting a new sentencing.

Kirkland's defense is pleading for a life prison term, saying Kirkland is mentally ill, was abused and neglected as a child and has head injuries that account for the violence.

6 women and 6 men are hearing the case. There were 2 days of serious questioning of jurors, including how they felt about the death penalty. 12 members of the pool of 120 said they could not, for personal and religious reasons, sign off on the death penalty. And they were excused.

The Vatican said Francis approved a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church - the compilation of official Catholic teaching. Previously, the catechism said the church didn't exclude recourse to capital punishment "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor."

The new teaching, contained in Catechism No. 2267, says the previous policy is outdated, that there are other ways to protect the common good and that the church should instead commit itself to working to end capital punishment.

The Pope has declared the Death Penalty Inadmissible in all cases.

"The church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide," reads the new text, which was approved in May but only published Thursday.

The death penalty has been abolished in most of Europe and South America, but it is still in use in the United States and in several countries in Asia, Africa and the Mideast.

Francis has long railed against the death penalty, insisting it can never be justified, no matter how heinous the crime. He has also long made prison ministry a mainstay of his vocation.

The Enquirer reported earlier this year that Hamilton County has sent more people to death row and is responsible for more executions than any county in Ohio since capital punishment returned to the state in 1981.

The county has a larger death row population per capita than the home counties of Los Angeles, Miami or San Diego. And it has more people on death row than all but 21 of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States.

In a statewide look at the death penalty, the Associated Press reported this week Ohio Gov. John Kasich has finished dealing with executions for the remainder of his time in office, following a modern-era record of death penalty commutations.

The Republican governor spared 7 men from execution during his 2 terms in office, including commutations on March 26 and July 20. Kasich allowed 15 executions to proceed, including the July 18 execution of Robert Van Hook for a strangling, stabbing and dismembering a man he met in a Cincinnati bar more than 30 years ago.

Not since Democrat Mike DiSalle spared 6 death row inmates in the early 1960s has an Ohio governor spared so many killers during periods when the state had an active death chamber. DiSalle allowed 6 executions to proceed.

(source: cincinnati.com)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

Friend of condemned inmate says he's "preparing for any outcome"----"He is worn down and worn out"

A close friend of condemned killer Carey Dean Moore said he is "preparing for any outcome."

Moore, 61, is scheduled to die 10 a.m. Aug. 14 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

"He is worn down and worn out," said Lisa Knopp, who has known Moore for 23 years.

She said she met Moore in 1995 during visit to death row with Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty.

She helped find him a new pastor and they became pen pals.

"The letters were just so warm and personal, that 23 year later we're still writing," Knopp said.

She and others now stand in front of the governor's mansion almost every noon hour protesting Moore's scheduled execution.

"I am opposed to the death penalty because I am a Christian," Knopp said.

She said she knows Nebraska's longest serving death row inmate as a thoughtful, generous soul, not the person who robbed and shot 2 Omaha cab drivers, Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland, 39 years ago.

"When I read about or speak to him about the person he used to be, I can't reconcile it. He is such a changed person," Knopp said.

She said August is a difficult month for Moore because that is the anniversary of the murders.

"The whole time I've known him, he has expressed great regret and concern for the families, the children of the victims," Knopp said.

She won't say much about why Moore refuses to fight his execution, other than that he is prepared to die.

Knopp said Moore has been scheduled to die 6 times before.

On 2 occasions, he came within a week of being executed.

"He is exhausted by the whole process of having to prepare for death and then being called back from that," Knopp said.

Knopp does not know where she will be the morning of the scheduled execution.

She said Moore has asked his supporters not be at the State Penitentiary.

"I don't think I want to be sitting at home. I think I want to be with people like this," Knopp said, referring to death penalty opponents.

Those opponents plan to rally at the State Capitol in the evening of Aug. 14 if an execution is carried out.

(source: KETV news)

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Aiming to delay execution, Ernie Chambers intensifies pressure on drugmakers

A leading death penalty opponent has intensified his pressure on pharmaceutical manufactures to encourage - or shame - them into taking legal action to block an Aug. 14 execution in Nebraska.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha continued his personal campaign Thursday to convince 3 companies to ask a judge to force the return of their drugs.

Because the inmate slated for Nebraska's 1st execution in 21 years is no longer fighting the state's efforts, a lawsuit by a drugmaker is one of the last remaining avenues that could delay the execution.

All 3 drugmakers contacted by Chambers have sent letters to Nebraska officials saying they vehemently oppose the use of their products in lethal injections. But because the letters have not resulted in the drugs being returned, Chambers argued that the companies must back their words with action.

Chambers directed his sharpest criticism at Pfizer, a maker of 3 of the 4 drugs Nebraska intends to use in the execution of Carey Dean Moore. In a letter the senator sent via overnight mail to the company Wednesday, Chambers said Pfizer wants to create the "misperception that it opposes capital punishment" while it actually participates in the market for lethal injection drugs.

"Pfizer aims to corner that market," he said in a follow-up to a letter he sent to the company last week.

A Pfizer spokesman has said company officials have ruled out taking legal action in Nebraska.

Chambers also said he has reached out to Sandoz Inc. and Hikma Pharmaceuticals, both of which have questioned whether Nebraska prison officials are planning to use their medications.

A letter sent this week to Nebraska officials by Sandoz said the company is considering legal action. Meanwhile, Hikma this week joined a lawsuit initiated by a different drugmaker that forced the delay of an execution in Nevada.

Hours after the Catholic Church changed its official teaching Thursday to fully reject the death penalty, a trio of bishops urged action to halt an upcoming execution in Nebraska. Meanwhile, Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is Catholic, said Thursday he remains in support of capital punishment.

(source: The World-Herald)

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As Vatican seeks to abolish death penalty, local bishops urge Nebraska to halt Moore's execution

The Vatican announced that going forward, the death penalty is inadmissible in all cases and the church should work to abolish it worldwide. The change was endorsed by Pope Francis in May but announced Thursday.

Hours after the Catholic Church changed its official teaching Thursday to fully reject the death penalty, a trio of bishops urged action to halt an upcoming execution in Nebraska.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is Catholic, said Thursday that he remains in support of capital punishment.

The Vatican announced that going forward, the death penalty is inadmissible in all cases and the church should work to abolish it worldwide. Previously, the church held that execution was allowable in rare cases to defend innocent lives from an "unjust aggressor."

The change was endorsed by Pope Francis in May but announced Thursday. The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will include the change in new editions of the catechism, the compendium of Catholic teaching.

The shift in church doctrine comes as Nebraska approaches its 1st execution in more than 2 decades. The Nebraska Supreme Court has set Aug. 14 for the lethal injection of a double-murderer who has spent 38 years on death row.

"In light of this teaching, we call on all people of good will to contact Nebraska state officials to stop the scheduled Aug. 14 execution of Carey Dean Moore," said the joint statement by Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln and Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt of Grand Island.

The bishops, who argued that the death penalty is no longer needed to ensure public safety in Nebraska, called the pope's decision "an answer for our prayers and welcome news." They also called for prayers for victims of serious crime and the 12 men on death row.

Ricketts, meanwhile, has been a leading advocate for restoring the death penalty in the state. In 2015, he vetoed legislation that repealed capital punishment, then helped fund a petition drive to put the issue on the 2016 general election ballot. A solid majority of voters reversed the repeal.

"While I respect the pope's perspective, capital punishment remains the will of the people and the law of the State of Nebraska," the governor said Thursday in an email. "It is an important tool to protect our corrections officers and public safety."

The governor has said in the past that he has researched, prayed and meditated upon on the topic and concluded that support for capital punishment is consistent with his faith. He pointed to the writings of church fathers and theologians who have long held that the death penalty is a morally sound form of punishment. The church's updated teaching states that capital punishment is "inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person."

The pope has for years been a vocal critic of the death penalty, calling it an "inhuman measure,' but his latest move places the issue toward the forefront of his efforts to reform and modernize the church.

It also could shape discussion about the issue in the United States, which like several dozen countries, uses capital punishment.

The Argentine pontiff, who had hinted last year that such a change might come, has described the church's death penalty stance as evidence of how the Vatican can evolve - in this case, over a generation. A quarter-century ago, the church said that the death penalty was justified in cases of "extreme gravity." Then, in 1997, Pope John Paul II narrowed the standards for when the punishment was permissible. Since then, the number of nations that use capital punishment has gradually decreased.

The death penalty is "contrary to the Gospel," the pope said last year, noting that the faith emphasized the dignity of life from conception until death.

Dudley Sharp, a pro-death penalty researcher in Houston, said he was "astounded" by the news. Sharp, who is not Catholic, said the change appears to reject 2,000 years of teaching by the church that the death penalty is a morally just punishment.

According to Amnesty International, more than 20,000 people across the world are on death row. On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country could soon reinstate the death penalty - something it had abolished in 2004 as part of the reforms necessary to enter the European Union.

In the United States, according to the Pew Research Center, public support for the death penalty has ticked up slightly since hitting a 4-decade low in 2016, with 54 % now approving of the punishment for those convicted of murder. The attitudes of Catholics mirror those of the nation, with 53 % favoring the death penalty.

In a letter sent to bishops from the Vatican's doctrine office, Cardinal Luis Ladaria noted that the church's stance on the death penalty stemmed from a "new understanding" of modern punishment, which should aim to rehabilitate and socially reintegrate those who have committed crimes.

"Given that modern society possesses more efficient detention systems," Ladaria wrote, "the death penalty becomes unnecessary as protection for the life of innocent people."

Ladaria said that the church's new teaching aims to "give energy" to a movement that would "allow for the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in effect."

(source: omaha.com)

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Nebraska's Catholic Governor Says Pope's Opposition Won't Stop Execution

When Nebraska lawmakers defied Gov. Pete Ricketts in 2015 by repealing the death penalty over his strong objections, the governor wouldn't let the matter go. Mr. Ricketts, a Republican who is Roman Catholic, tapped his family fortune to help bankroll a referendum to reinstate capital punishment, a measure the state's Catholic leadership vehemently opposed.

After a contentious and emotional battle across this deep-red state, voters restored the death penalty the following year. Later this month, Nebraska is scheduled to execute Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of murder, in what would be the state's 1st execution in 21 years.

The prospect has renewed a tense debate in a state with strong Christian traditions that has wrestled with the moral and financial implications of the death penalty for years, even before the 2015 attempt to abolish it. Protesters have been holding daily vigils outside the governor's mansion to oppose Mr. Moore's execution.

Complicating matters, Pope Francis this week declared that executions are unacceptable in all cases, a shift from earlier church doctrine that had accepted the death penalty if it was "the only practicable way" to defend lives. Coming only days before the scheduled Aug. 14 execution here, the pope's stance seemed to create an awkward position for Mr. Ricketts, who is favored to win a bid for re-election this fall.

Mr. Ricketts, who in the past has said that he viewed his position on the death penalty as compatible with Catholicism, on Thursday issued a statement about the pope's declaration.

"While I respect the pope's perspective, capital punishment remains the will of the people and the law of the state of Nebraska," Mr. Ricketts's statement said. "It is an important tool to protect our corrections officers and public safety. The state continues to carry out the sentences ordered by the court."

But opponents seized on the pope's comments. Nebraska's Catholic bishops urged people to contact state officials to stop the scheduled execution of Mr. Moore and cited the popeís teaching. "Simply put, the death penalty is no longer needed or morally justified in Nebraska," the bishops wrote.

Jane Kleeb, who leads the Nebraska Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Ricketts "is going against the teachings of the church" on the matter of executions.

"When you have a priest on Sunday talking about how we don't believe in the death penalty, I think that will matter to people," she said in an interview. "Nebraskans are churchgoers and believe in the church and strong family units, and they believe in people paying for their crimes, but not necessarily with their lives."

In many respects, Mr. Moore, 60, has become an afterthought in the buildup to his own execution. He has been on the state's death row longer than any of the other 11 other men and is among the longest-serving prisoners on any death row in the nation's history.

The execution planned here has also become part of a national dispute over the use of drugs in death chambers. Nebraska, which was still using an electric chair the last time it executed someone in 1997, has said Mr. Moore will be the state's 1st execution by lethal injection, using a combination of 4 drugs, including fentanyl. Nebraska officials have refused to disclose where they obtained the drugs. The execution would be the nation's 1st to use fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that has been at the center of the nation's overdose crisis.

Though the state has had capital punishment on the books for most of the past century, it very rarely condemns people to death and even more rarely kills them. In the United States, executions have been on the decline for years. In 1999, there were 98 executions across the nation, compared to 23 in 2017, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. So far this year, there have been 14.

While 31 states still have death penalty statutes, only 10, including Texas, Ohio and Florida, have carried out executions since 2014, according to the center. During the past decade, several states have placed moratoriums on capital punishment or abolished it altogether. The most recent was Delaware, which banned the death penalty in 2016.

The crimes Mr. Moore committed - the murders of 2 Omaha taxi drivers, Reuel Van Ness Jr. and Maynard Helgeland, during a 5-day span in 1979 - occurred so long ago that many in Nebraska know about them only through newspaper articles.

For years, Mr. Moore, who admitted to the killings, has made it clear that he is ready to die. He has dismissed his lawyers and refused to take part in efforts to spare his life. He has told friends that, as a born-again Christian, he believes he will be in the presence of God upon his death, his sins forgiven, said Geoff Gonifas, his longtime pastor.

"No one's happy a man's life is going to be taken," said Michael Fischer, 35, a Republican and a financial planner in Omaha who, like many along the streets here, said he supported capital punishment. "But if you take the death penalty off the books, the fear is there won't be strong discouragement for people to commit crimes."

In 2016, in part through the governor's efforts, 61 % of Nebraska voters chose to rescind a ban on the death penalty that an unlikely coalition of Democratic and Republican lawmakers had passed a year before.

In Lincoln, the state capital, where a unicameral legislature is officially nonpartisan but is dominated by Republicans, the battle over the death penalty has gone on for decades. State Senator Ernie Chambers, an independent from Omaha and one of the Legislature's most outspoken members, tries nearly every year to push legislation to abolish capital punishment and has clashed bluntly with Mr. Ricketts.

Opposition to the death penalty in this state has often centered around matters of religion and morality, but also money. An essential argument that helped an array of lawmakers support an end to capital punishment was the extensive costs involved before a prisoner is actually executed.

"If any other government program had been as inefficient as this one, we would have gotten rid of it," said Colby Coash, a former Republican state senator who was instrumental in convincing other conservatives to support the death penalty repeal in 2015. "How is killing someone 20 years after the crime justice for anyone?"

Mr. Chambers, who once described the death penalty debate as "a personal struggle between me and the governor," called Mr. Ricketts "evil" during a recent interview. A spokesman for the governor responded by questioning Mr. Chambers's religious tolerance.

Mr. Ricketts, scion of the TD Ameritrade family fortune and an owner of the Chicago Cubs, has made the death penalty a signature issue as he seeks a 2nd term as governor. In the past, he has repeatedly said that capital punishment deters violent crime. He contributed $300,000 to help with a petition drive that led to the restoration of the death penalty by voters.

Mr. Ricketts declined requests to be interviewed for this story, but in an interview in The Omaha World-Herald in 2015, the governor said that his position in favor of executions was in keeping with the tenets of his faith.

"The Catholic Church does not preclude the use of the death penalty under certain circumstances: That guilt is determined and the crime is heinous. Also, protecting society," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "As I've thought about this and meditated on it and prayed on it and researched it, I've determined it's an important tool."

Some have suggested that Mr. Ricketts's own family's experience with violence may have affected his views, though the governor has rarely addressed the issue publicly. In a meeting in 2015 with death penalty opponents, first reported by The World-Herald, participants said the governor spoke to them about the troubling death of a cousin, Ronna Anne Bremer, in Missouri years ago.

Ms. Bremer, 22, was the mother of 2 children and was pregnant when she disappeared in the 1980s. 3 years after she disappeared, her skull was mailed to the local sheriff's department. The authorities said they believe she was murdered, but they never made an arrest in the case.

(source: New York Times)

UTAH:

Utahns react to Pope's death penalty change

The Pope has declared capital punishment "inadmissible" -- and on Thursday night, Utahns reacted to the announcement with mixed emotions.

"A lot of people are kind of reeling from that, and trying to figure out what exactly to do," said Brandon Peterson, an assistant professor lecturer at the University of Utah.

For Catholics, the announcement Thursday about a change to the Catechism is a major shift.

"He's said that capital punishment is inadmissible. Primarily, because of the dignity of the human person," said Peterson.

And though the church has slowly evolved on the death penalty issue, Peterson says today's change to the catechism is a huge deal.

"Capital punishment is something that a lot of people support here in Utah," said Peterson.

The death penalty is on the books in Utah.

But the biggest impact could be for Catholic politicians who have been pro death penalty in the past.

On Thursday, New York's governor proposed ending capital punishment after the Vatican's announcement.

Yet not everybody thinks the pope's announcement is relevant to their lives.

Riddell Mackey was raised Catholic, but has since left the church.

"I don't believe a person should have the right to rape, kill and murder -- get 12 trials to go through, waste money, and then still have the opportunity to live after taking another person's life or ruining another person's life. I'm a very eye-for-an-eye person," said Mackey.

(source: good4utah.com)

USA:

What does Pope's death penalty shift mean for Catholic politicians?

Pope Francis earned a standing ovation when he told Congress in 2015 that he supports protecting human life "at every stage of its development." When he added that "this conviction" includes working to end the death penalty, the response was far more subdued.

"You didn't see people jumping up and clapping," said John Carr, who was in the room, and is director of Georgetown University's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

For decades, Catholic politicians who support capital punishment, including the senators and representatives in the chamber that day, had an "out" when it comes to church teaching: The Catholic Catechism, the church's book of moral and religious teachings, had allowed the use of capital punishment in certain cases. Any other opinions, even the Pope's, were just that, opinions, and not necessarily binding on Catholic consciences.

But that is no longer the case, the Vatican announced on Thursday.

At the Pope's direction, the Catholic Catechism has been revised, and now calls the death penalty "inadmissible." While years in coming, the shift raises new questions about how politicians, particularly conservative Catholics in red states, will navigate the church's revised stance.

"Pope Francis has said several times that he considers the death penalty inadmissible," said John Thavis, former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service. "Now, however, he has enshrined it in official Catholic teaching. That's going to make it much more difficult for politicians to dismiss this teaching as 'the Pope's opinion.'"

The church's shifting position on capital punishment may even arise later this year when the Senate holds confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, a federal judge and faithful Catholic whom President Donald Trump has nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court.

"It's hard to side-step this issue now that it's definitive church teaching," said John Gehring, a Catholic writer and Catholic Program Director at the liberal-leaning group Faith in Public Life.

"I think there is a proper and respectful way to ask Kavanaugh how his understanding of faith and morality intersects with his judicial views."

"I suspect that the matter will come up," agreed Richard Garnett, a professor at the University of Notre Dame's law school. "I'm not optimistic that any senator's question will reflect any serious engagement with, or understanding of, what Pope Francis actually did, but ... I expect it will come up."

If confirmed, Kavanaugh would be the 5th Catholic on the Supreme Court, which regularly opines on death penalty cases and hears requests for stays of execution. (It is unclear whether Neil Gorsuch, who was raised a Catholic but has worshiped in Episcopal Churches, identifies with either tradition.)

The death penalty was a controversial subject during the Senate's confirmation hearings last year for Amy Coney Barrett, who now serves on the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Noting an article Barrett wrote examining whether Catholic judges should recuse themselves from capital punishment cases, Sen. Dianne Feinstein famously said, "The dogma lives loudly within you."

Quiet conservatives

Among Americans, 54% favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 39% are opposed, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April and May. Among Catholics, the survey found that 53% of Catholics favor capital punishment, while 42% oppose it.

Death penalty opponents celebrated the Vatican's announcement, calling it the culmination of years of planning and work, while hoping it could change more attitudes among lay Catholics.

"For people in the pews, it is a challenge to actively build a culture of life by abolishing the death penalty, especially in the 31 states that still have it on the books in this country," said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, who leads Catholic Mobilizing Network, an anti-death penalty group.

Many conservative Catholics, meanwhile, were mostly quiet on Thursday. Several prominent legal and political figures did not respond immediately for comment. But in the past, several Catholic governors had said that the Catechism gave them leeway to enforce the death penalty.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, whose state overwhelmingly supports capital punishment according to polls, told journalists in 2014 that there's no conflict between his Catholic faith and state law on the issue.

"Catholic doctrine is not against the death penalty, and so there is no conflict there," he said.

Likewise, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is Catholic and lobbied against a state ban on the death penalty, has said capital punishment can be justified.

"The Catholic Church does not preclude the use of the death penalty under certain circumstances: That guilt is determined and the crime is heinous. Also, protecting society," Ricketts said in 2015.

Abbott and Ricketts' offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Thursday, Sister Helen Prejean, a prominent opponent of capital punishment, called on Ricketts to fall in line with the Pope and cancel planned executions.

Nebraska's 3 Catholic bishop echoed Prejean's call to cancel the execution and urged Catholics and others to lobby state officials.

"Simply put, the death penalty is no longer needed or morally justified in Nebraska," the bishops said.

What the Catechism says now

"Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good," the Catechism will now say.

But an "increasing awareness" that criminals don't lose their human dignity, a "new understanding" of prison systems and the development of "effective systems of detention" have led the church, under Pope Francis, to revise its official views, the Vatican said.

"The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," the Catechism will now say.

Does all of this mean that Catholic politicians will immediately switch positions on the death penalty?

Don't bet on it, said Helen Alvare, professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

"The death penalty teaching may be observed or ignored, as is the abortion teaching, even though both are about killing," Alvare wrote in an email.

"Politicians of any religion seem to variously ignore, observe both as a matter of consistency, or take inconsistent positions!"

(source: CNN)

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Cardinal Cupich wishes Scalia had lived to see pope's new death penalty teaching

Cardinal Blase Cupich said Thursday that he wishes Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had lived to see Pope Francis say the death penalty is wrong in all cases.

The exchange about Scalia, a conservative Supreme Court justice and devout Catholic who ruled and spoke in favor of the death penalty, capped an exchange on the legal and theological implications of the punishment between Cupich and 3 legal experts who oppose the death penalty.

The panel discussion, part of the American Bar Association's annual meeting in Chicago this week, came just hours after Pope Francis announced that the catechism of the Catholic Church would declare the death penalty always "inadmissible".

Previously, the church had taught that the death penalty could be used in rare instances when no other way of deterring a violent criminal was available.

Cupich was responding to a Scalia quote read by the panel's moderator, Ronald J. Tabak, the chair of the ABA's death penalty committee, in which Scalia suggested that Christian societies, confident in eternal life, tended to be more comfortable with the death penalty than secular societies.

"Would that he had lived to be here today, to see what the pope has done, because I think it would cause him to rethink that," Cupich said.

"I think that his understanding of salvation has great limitations. It's an atomistic view of salvation, that is, as individuals," Cupich said. "God saves a people. God doesn't just save by individuals. How is it that we integrate human beings into society, especially those at the margins? That's the question we should be posing here."

Cupich's concerns about the implications of the death penalty for social justice jibed with the concerns of the legal experts, who described a justice system that preyed on those least likely to get a fair trial, including the mentally ill and racial minorities.

The waning ranks of death row inmates are filled with "the most vulnerable, not the worst of the worst," said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

Cupich said he believed that the church's categorical opposition to the death penalty could reinforce its teaching on abortion.

"Erasing the innate value of individual lives because of crimes committed, and removing such criminals from the human family, is an echo of the violence done to human dignity when pro-choice advocates imply that the life developing in the womb is not 'real human' life," Cupich said.

Cupich and his fellow panelists discussed death row "volunteers," who decline appeals and go willingly to their executions. Cupich encountered such a case as the bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota.

"He wanted to die, his life was so terrible. When I spoke about it, I said, what we have here isn't the death penalty. We have state-assisted suicide," Cupich said.

Cupich said he understood some Catholics would struggle with the church's teaching on the death penalty due to "a desire to restore the order of justice that has been so viciously violated."

"But there is a flaw in that way of thinking," Cupich said. "When the state imposes the death penalty, it proclaims that taking one human life counterbalances the taking of another life. This is profoundly mistaken."

(source: Chicago Sun Times)

GLOBAL:

Reversing Catholic Doctrine, Pope Francis Declares Death Penalty 'Inadmissable' in All Cases----"I eagerly await the new, forceful, and reversed positions on the death penalty from all the Catholic politicians who regularly explain their anti-abortion stance as 'the teaching of my church.'"

Reversing long-held church doctrine and aligning himself with progressive Catholic advocates, Pope Francis said Thursday that the death penalty is "inadmissable" in all cases.

Announcing a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope said capital punishment is "an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," and vowed that the church will work to abolish the death penalty worldwide.

Previously, the church has supported the death penalty for "certain crimes" in the belief that it is sometimes necessary to put a convicted criminal to death "to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor."

This policy is incongruous with Catholic teachings regarding the dignity of human life, the pope proclaimed.

In his reversal of the church's stance, Pope Francis noted that convicted criminals can be incarcerated with the potential for rehabilitation.

"More effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption," the Pope said.

The church's reversal comes amid increased support for the death penalty in the United States, with President Donald Trump calling for drug dealers. Before his 2016 presidential run, he also tweeted that so-called "perverts" should be executed by the state.

Amnesty International reports that 993 worldwide executions were recorded in 2017, with the U.S. submitting 23 people to capital punishment.

A recent Pew poll found that 54 % of Americans back the death penalty for people convicted of murder. 53 % of American Catholics also support capital punishment.

According to a 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, "Fully 79 % of 'pro-life' Republicans and 85 % of 'pro-life' Tea Party identifiers who say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases also support the death penalty."

On Twitter, some political observers noted the obvious disconnect within the right-wing anti-choice movement in the United States, and remarked on the likelihood that conservative Catholic politicians will now reverse their stance on the death penalty.

(source: commondreams.org)

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Pope Francis goes all-in against the death penalty.

The Vatican announced on Thursday that the pontiff revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the church's written summarization of its teachings, to categorically oppose capital punishment in all circumstances. The revision is a significant shift in Catholic teachings, albeit one that largely takes existing doctrine on capital punishment to its logical conclusion.

The church's previous articulation of its teachings indicated that the death penalty could be acceptable if "this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor." The new version recognizes that executions are far from the only effective way to protect human life, citing "an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes," as well as "more effective systems of detention' that protect safety and leave open "the possibility of redemption."

Papal opposition to the death penalty itself is hardly novel. That opposition is most often directed at its use in the United States, which is one of the few remaining countries with a large Catholic population that still regularly executes prisoners. Francis called for the "global abolition" of capital punishment during his address to the U.S. Congress in 2015, echoing similar remarks made by Pope John Paul II throughout his 26-year papacy. In 1999, John Paul II successfully persuaded Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, who was not a Catholic, to commute a death-row prisoner's sentence during a papal visit to the state.

Thursday's announcement also drew scorn from conservative American Catholics, some of who have grown increasingly critical of Francis's leadership of the church. In a series of Twitter posts, National Review's Michael Brendan Dougherty described the new death-penalty teaching as "religious Calvinball" and wrote that the church "is now a political party with a platform that changes with leadership."

(source: newrepublic.com)

PHILIPINES:

Sotto to reconsider death penalty push after Pope Francis declares it 'inadmissible'

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said he would have to "think over" his push for the reimposition of death penalty in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, following Pope Francis' declaration that capital punishment is "inadmissible" in all circumstances.

"Let me think it over. I'll try to find some kind of compromise," Sotto said Friday (August 3) in a text message.

Senators continue to reject death penalty, with Sotto admitting that it faces an "uphill climb" in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon told reporters a death penalty bill "will die if put to a vote today," while former Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel Jr. said, "We will not reimpose it."

A possible compromise, Sotto said, is his Senate Bill No. 1, which seeks to create a "highly secured" Anti-Drug Penal Institution "located in an uninhabited place" for high-level drug traffickers.

Pope Francis approved a change in Catholic catechism on death penalty in May, saying it is "inadmissible."

The new draft of the catechism, released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reads, "The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,' and she (the Church) works with determination for its abolition worldwide."

Before this, the Church taught that death penalty is permissible in cases of "absolute necessity."

Now, the Church says it recognizes that "the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes."

Sotto, a Catholic, authored 1 of 8 bills pending in a Senate committee seeking to reimpose death penalty, which was abolished in the Philippines in 2006.

He filed Senate Bill No. 4 in 2016 which seeks to reinstate death penalty by lethal injection for heinous crimes, including treason, murder, robbery with violence or intimidation, rape and plunder.

However, after he was elected as Senate President in May, he said he is only pushing for capital punishment for high-level drug traffickers.

In an interview on ANC Thursday (August 2), Sotto said he wants death penalty for drug lords to keep them from continuing with their trade even behind bars. He also defended his proposal against critics who say it is anti-poor.

"My question is mayroon bang drug lord na mahirap? Wala. So my death penalty for high-level trafficking is not anti-poor," Sotto said.

Aside from Sotto, Senators Manny Pacquiao, Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian and Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito have filed bills seeking to either fully reimpose death penalty or impose it for selected crimes only.

Even after a key change in Catholic catechism, the Malacanang said it is still pushing for death penalty to be restored, but is leaving the Senate to pass a law for it.

Opposition leader Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said his fellow senators from the Liberal Party would oppose the reimposition of the death penalty, which they "do not see as a deterrent to crime."

Sotto also admitted in his interview on ANC that he had been "convinced" by former colleagues in past Congresses "that death penalty is not really that much of a deterrent."

President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies in Congress have been pushing for the death penalty to be restored, with the House passing a capital punishment bill in March 2017.

(source: politics.com.ph)

ABKHAZIA:

Abkhaz drug dealers to face death penalty----But, many in Abkhazia think that the government should better learn to implement the already existing punishments more effectively, instead of introducing new, harsher, ones

The Abkhaz parliament is discussing draft amendments to the criminal code, which, if adopted, will mean that people caught to have been selling large quantities of drugs will face a death sentence or life imprisonment.

The bill has only passed its first reading so far, but few doubt that all the parliament chambers will ultimately vote for it.

Drug use is a major problem in the Abkhaz society. Abkhazia is due to hold the next presidential election in a year, and whoever will run in it will be sure to call for tougher drug laws as part of their election program.

Introducing harsher punishments for drug dealers and drunk drivers was one of the issues the parliament discussed at a session on 26 July.

"These sanctions [life imprisonment or death penalty] will only apply to those who are found to have been trafficking in large quantities of drugs," said Dmitri Dbar, the MP who proposed the bill to the parliament. "In no case will it apply to those who use drugs. This only concerns drug dealers."

His colleague, Valery Agrba, thinks the prospect of getting a tougher sentence should curb or even stop drugs being sold in Abkhazia.

However, in reality, drug dealers are not going to be punished by death. It has been more than fifteen years since Abkhazia adopted a moratorium on capital punishment.

n the meantime, the parliament's intentions have come in for a lot of heated discussion on social media, with many commenters saying they donít believe such a law would work. Typical comments were:

"Toughening the punishment won't make fighting with crimes any more successful. The drug penalties are severe enough already. The real problem is that they can't, or don't want to, catch criminals."

"Drug dealers should feel jittery, but instead they feel very comfortable here. Even if they get caught, they will find a way to bail out. It's always a win-win lottery for them."

"In the medieval England, thieves would be executed at public squares. Still, it was during these executions that the biggest number of thefts took place. This is a classic example of how even the most severe measures do not scare criminals away."

"This is pure populism. There is no need to toughen up punishments. We should just learn how to applythe already existing penalties to all drug dealers, not only to their insignificant henchmen".

(source: jam-news.net)

PAKISTAN:

Pak court stays execution of Sufi Singer Amjad Sabri's Killer----In April, Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had approved death penalty for 10 terrorists including those who shot dead Sabri.

A court in Pakistan today stayed the execution of an accused and suspended the death penalty given to him by a military court in the assassination of Amjad Sabri, one of the country's finest Sufi Qawwals.

Sabri, 45, was travelling in a car in Karachi's congested Liquatabad 10 area when two motorcycle-borne gunmen shot him in the head in a targeted terror attack on June 22, 2016.

In April, Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had approved death penalty for 10 terrorists including those who shot dead Sabri.

Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court Waqar Ahmed Seth suspended the death sentence of Arish, who was convicted by the military court for killing Sabri.

The convict's counsel Azizuddin Kakakhel told the court that his client was deprived of the right to defence, saying he was sentenced to death without any witness and evidence.

The court suspended the death sentence and adjourned the hearing till September 9.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Hakimullah Masood group had claimed responsibility for the attack on Sabri. The killing had sparked countrywide protests.

Some of the most memorable and famous qawwalis of the Sabris were 'Bhar Do Jholi Meri', 'Tajdar-i-Haram' and 'Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa'.

(source: devdiscourse.com)

AUGUST 2, 2018:

TEXAS:

Testimony ends for death sentence appeal; final live arguments still to be made

Testimony has been concluded in the latest appeal in the case of Micah Crofford Brown, convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection in connection with the 2011 shooting death of his ex-wife Stella Michelle "Doc" Ray, a Caddo Mills Independent School District teacher.

A final decision in the case is not expected for a few more months, according to 196th District Court Judge Andrew Bench.

Both sides rested their cases Friday in the evidentiary hearing, meaning all evidence had been presented concerning Brown's latest appeal. Bench said attorneys will now await opportunities to review an official transcript of the hearing before presenting their "facts and conclusions of law."

Bench said once those documents are presented to his court, he will schedule a hearing for both sides to present their final live arguments before he makes a ruling in the appeal.

Brown was transferred from state prison to the custody of the Hunt County Detention Center for the hearing and remained in the jail Monday.

Brown, of Greenville, was convicted in May 2013 and sentenced to death by lethal injection. He does not have an execution date scheduled.

Testimony during the trial indicated Ray was shot and killed in Greenville on the night of July 20, 2011 as the result of a dispute with Brown concerning the couple's 2 children.

After the conviction and death sentence were upheld by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a post conviction writ was filed on Brown's behalf in 2015 by the Office of Capital Writs, a state agency charged with representing death-sentenced persons in state post-conviction habeas corpus and related proceedings.

The 124-page document listed multiple alleged issues with Brown's conviction and sentence, including ineffective assistance by the trial and appeals defense attorneys, improper arguments by prosecutors during the punishment phase, and failure to present evidence during the punishment phase that Brown suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior, which may have mitigated the jury's decision to issue the death penalty.

During Brown's capital murder trial, Ray's mother said her daughter had worked as a teacher for Caddo Mills ISD for 2 years, but had just earned her doctorate degree and was planning on taking a professorship at a college in Marshall.

Donna Ray said her daughter was planning to stop by her residence on the night of the murder, the day before she was to move to Marshall.

During the trial, Brown's defense counsel, Toby Wilkinson, said the shooting came as the result of a dispute between Brown and Ray concerning the couple's 2 small children, who were inside the vehicle Ray was driving on the night she was killed.

(source: roysecityheraldbanner.com)

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Texas Decides to Execute Despite a Victim's Son Calling for Forgiveness

14 years ago, Mitesh Patel lost his father Hasmukh in a robbery-murder at the family's store in San Antonio. The man who killed his father, Chris Young, was sentenced to death. Leading up to Young's execution last week, Patel called for Texas officials to halt Young's execution and replace his death sentence with one of life without parole. His calls fell on deaf ears, and the state executed Young.

Patel's decision to push for clemency shows how the death penalty can betray what justice means to victims' families.

Patel is in fact just a couple of years older than Young, and, reflecting on the case in the days before Young's execution, he drew parallels between his own life and Young's. They are both men who had lived without fathers. Young lost his father to murder when he was only 8 years old and joined a gang not long after that.

Patel realized that his father's influence in his life growing up was a key part of his successes in life - something Young didn't have. He also knew that the Chris Young today was not the same person who killed Patel's father 14 years ago. He knew Young had changed, that he was remorseful, that he had supported his daughters, counseled other young people, found solace in his Christian faith, and made a difference to other prisoners on death row.

Patel, a father now himself, did not want to play any role in taking Chris away from his daughters. Heeding his own father's words that 2 wrongs don't make a right, Patel saw little difference between Young's intentional killing of his father and Texas's intentional killing of Young.

Patel's reflections continued, and they bent away from the government responding to a killing by killing another. Patel knew his grief for his father would remain the same whether Young lived or died. He said before the execution, "Killing Chris doesn't change my path, my history. It only affects a whole other set of people."

But sadly, Patel's compassion and informed call for forgiveness for Young fell on deaf ears at the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and with Gov. Greg Abbott, who denied his plea for clemency. On July 17, the state of Texas executed Chris Young.

This isn't the 1st time Texas has ignored the voices of victims.

Mitesh Patel's call for forgiveness, not heard by Texas authorities, is tragically similar to those of many families of murder victims, including another Texas crime victim, Rais Bhuiyan. Mark Stroman was sentenced to death in Dallas for killing 2 people whom he thought were Arab-Americans after the 9/11 terror attacks. Rais Bhuiyan was the 3rd victim, shot in the face in the attack, who miraculously survived.

Drawing on his Muslim faith - and the very identity that had made him a target of Mark Stroman's in the first place - Bhuiyan called for forgiveness. He pushed to meet with Stroman before his execution and asked state authorities to sentence him to life. Like Patel's, Bhuiyan's pleas were ignored by the Board of Pardons and Paroles and then-Gov. Rick Perry.

Texas executed Mark Stroman on July 21, 2011, almost exactly 7 years to the day from Young's execution this month. Patel and Bhuiyan's stories are stark reminders that the criminal justice system too often ignores victims who oppose execution.

These victims' voices opposing vengeance must be heard in the criminal justice system. We need reforms that will ensure rehabilitation and reconciliation are valued and promoted. As Rais Bhuiyan said, "In order to live in a better and peaceful world, we need to break the cycle of hate and violence."

Patel courageously pushed the state of Texas for compassion and forgiveness and asked that something better than Young's execution comes of his father's death. As Mitesh Patel knew, presciently, with Young's execution, little if anything was gained, but another father was lost.

Let us follow in the brave footsteps of Patel and Bhuiyan in calling for the criminal justice system to do more than kill. Vengeance is not justice. That the system ignores victims who call for forgiveness and redemption shows that it is truly broken and, in doing so, spotlights yet again that it is in the name of justice that we must abolish the death penalty.

(source: Anna Arceneaux, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project)

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Houston cop killer gets execution date for 1988 slaying

A Harris County judge on Tuesday signed a death warrant for a man convicted of killing a police officer 3 decades ago in a botched robbery at an adult bookstore.

Robert Mitchell Jennings is now scheduled to meet his end in the Huntsville death chamber on Jan. 30, the 1st Texas execution on the calendar for 2019.

It's the 2nd time in 3 years the 60-year-old with claims of mental impairment has faced a date with death, and this time police union officials and the victim's family looked on tearfully as Judge Denise Collins told Jennings of his fate.

"The murder of my father has hung over my family like a black cloud," said Tyesha Beller, the daughter of slain officer Elston Howard. Now, she said, she's hoping for closure - and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg wished for an end to the family's suffering.

"Robert Mitchell Jennings has been on death row longer than Officer Howard was alive," Ogg noted in a statement. Howard was 24 at the time of the murder.

The high school dropout on death row has never claimed innocence in the 1988 slaying, but defense lawyer Randy Schaffer has doggedly fought to keep him alive with requests for a lesser sentence in light of Jennings' horrible childhood, mental impairment and apparent remorse - as well as his 1st lawyer's failure to raise those issues at trial.

"The criminal justice system promises equal justice under the law to every defendant," Schaffer wrote in May. "The system is measured, not by how it treats the best among us, but by how it treats the worst. Robert Mitchell Jennings has not received equal justice under the law."

After his client shuffled in front of the bench Tuesday shackled in a yellow jail jumpsuit, Schaffer argued that the execution date was premature in light of pending appeals.

"I understand why the state is requesting an execution date - because it's election season," he added, drawing a terse question from the judge.

But to Houston Police Officers' Union president Joe Gamaldi, the decision to schedule an execution hasn't come soon enough.

"It is absolutely ridiculous that it has taken over 30 years to get to this day," he said after the court hearing.

On July 19, 1988, HPD vice officer Elston Howard walked into the Empire Bookstore to write a ticket.

His undercover partner had just busted the store owner showing pornographic films without a permit and, wearing his vice raid jacket, Howard followed him inside to fill out the paperwork. He called for a squad car to take the man downtown to booking and was still standing behind the counter when Jennings burst in.

The robber spotted the police jacket and started shooting. 2 bullets hit Howard in the neck. He tried to flee but collapsed, according to court records.

Jennings shot him 2 more times as he lay face down.

Afterward, he demanded money, and the clerk handed over his wallet and cash from the register.

Jennings ran outside and hopped in a getaway car. But the driver, upon learning his accomplice had just killed a police officer, turned and shot him in the hand. Jennings dove out the car window and got himself to a hospital, where he was arrested and offered a written confession.

He was sentenced to death in 1989.

"It always feels good to see that justice is done," said Johnny Holmes, the longtime former district attorney who prosecuted the case. "And I think in that case, justice was done."

The condemned killer, who'd grown up in poverty, had a long criminal history including juvenile crimes and past prison sentences. He was born the child of rape, and his drug-addicted mother openly resented him, frequently telling him she did not want him, according to court records.

"He never had a chance," Schaffer said.

In 1978, a psychologist found that he had an IQ of 65 and mild organic brain dysfunction, including damage caused by a childhood injuries - one from a rollover car crash and the other from a baseball bat. But there was also evidence Jennings was malingering, or at the least exaggerating his symptoms to delay court proceedings.

During Jennings' original trial, his attorney was defending 2 capital cases at the same time and didn't do enough to investigate and bring up those claims, Schaffer argued, so the jury heard little about reasons to consider a life sentence rather than death.

They also didn't learn about his display of remorse just after his arrest and only heard from 1 witness who spoke on his behalf, a jailhouse chaplain who swore Jennings was a changed man.

In 2012, he won a new trial on punishment, but a higher court reversed the decision. 4 years later, he got his first execution date - though the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed it with days to go.

"You want maximum due process because it is the most important of all possible cases," prosecutor Josh Reiss, who oversees the district attorney's post-conviction division, said outside of court Tuesday. "But Mr. Jennings has had all the due process he is due."

Jennings still has litigation pending with the Court of Criminal Appeals.

(source: Houston Chronicle)

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

Executions under Greg Abbott, Jan. 21, 2015-present----35

Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982----present-----553

Abbott#--------scheduled execution date-----name------------Tx. #

36---------Sept. 12---------------Ruben Gutierrez---------554

37---------Sept. 26---------------Troy Clark--------------555

38---------Sept. 27---------------Daniel Acker------------556

49---------Oct. 10----------------Juan Segundo------------557

40---------Oct. 24----------------Kwame Rockwell----------558

41---------Nov. 7-----------------Emanuel Kemp------------559

44---------Dec. 4-----------------Joseph Garcia-----------560

45---------Jan. 30----------------Robert Jennings---------561

(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)

GEORGIA:

Death penalty trial might be held elsewhere

Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Alison T. Burleson has given prosecution and defense attorneys a date of Aug. 13 to submit information to her concerning a possible change of venue in the death penalty trial of Ricky Dubose.

Burleson handed down that date during a hearing Wednesday morning in Putnam County Superior Court in Eatonton following comments made by Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stephen A. Bradley, lead defense attorney Gabrielle Pittman, and assistant defense attorney Nathaniel Studelski

The assistant defense attorney told Burleson that the defense team wasn't prepared Wednesday to argue the matter related to the motion about pre-trial publicity related to the Dubose case.

Studelski explained that the defense team was working with 2 experts who had been hired - 1 who is involved specifically with providing information related to the amount of media coverage given to the case. He identified that person as Cindy Champion.

The other person is Jeffery Martin, who is looking into getting up a list of the types of counties that have similar demographic makeup as that of Putnam County.

"I know there was a great deal of news coverage regarding this case," Pittman told Burleson, who said she thought that particular motion was going to be argued Wednesday.

"I thought that was the whole point of setting it a month or so out is that we were going to do that today as obviously that dictates whether we're moving and where we're moving," Burleson said. "And of course that potentially shifts trial dates depending on whether we're staying or going and that kind of thing."

The judge said she thought that was one of the seven motions that were expected to be heard Wednesday.

"Your honor, I think this may be confusion and part of this is caused because we don't have any written responses from the state," Pittman said. "We're unable to identify what their position is, and that presents difficulties for us in preparing."

Pittman said she thought that particular motion was for the purpose of discussion, as opposed to having a full hearing in which both sides would present arguments.

"We need to know are they (district attorney's office) close to a venue change or are they in favor of a venue change," Pittman said. "For us to employ and bring experts into a hearing we need to have an answer as to where they stand and what their intention is."

Bradley said the state's position has never changed on the topic.

"I've been waiting to hear; I've read the defense's motion at great length, and I have looked at the law that applies and there are a number of factors that have to be considered by this court, by the state, by everybody," Bradley said. "I've been waiting to hear why the defense thinks that we cannot get a fair jury here. I understand the basics of the argument. I'm curious what their theory is. We donít need a whole hearing, and I don't think we need any evidence, but I would like to hear what their argument is so we can see if we can craft locations."

Bradley pointed out that a lot of time had been spent with looking at numbers of similar sized counties to make sure that craft something that is a good selection based on the defense's criteria.

Although no actual county has yet been named, several counties have been mentioned as possible sites for the murder trial.

Studelski said the short list of 5 possible counties at this time included: Worth, Grady, Toombs, Coffee, and Glenn.

"We still need, obviously, more time," Studelski said, noting that the defense was working with Jeffery Martin in regards to the most suitable county for the upcoming trial in another county.

Burleson pointed out that she understood.

The judge then asked the prosecution team of Bradley, Chief Assistant District Attorney Allison Mauldin and Assistant District Attorney T. Wright Barksdale if they had done any research as to some of the counties they feel might be suitable.

Bradley, meanwhile, named the following counties as possible sites, based on similar demographics to those of Putnam County: Glenn, Montogomery, Toombs, Emanuel and Grady.

"Glenn, certainly," Bradley said. "It's larger, but it's very similar demographically."

Bradley noted that 3 other counties, Toombs, Montogomery and Emanuel all have some similarities.

"And Grady County, I think, is a possibility, although I don't know if they have the resources to accommodate as well as some of the others, but all of those are a possibility," Bradley said.

Burleson said she could see there were some commonalities in the lists between the prosecution and defense teams.

"Would it be helpful for me to give you all time to see if you can confer, and I need to do my own research, too, now that I do have your suggestions," Burleson asked.

Bradley said he didn't know that there was an agreement, but that he and the prosecution team were certainly willing to talk with the defense team.

Pittman said she would like to have the opportunity to talk with the state about it.

Burleson said she believed it was important to establish a deadline.

"And y'all need to have an agreement," Burleson said, noting that the prosecution and defense teams might consider getting together and talking about this Thursday and Friday.

"Today is August 1, and if y'all can let me know by Monday, Aug. 13, if y'all have a consensus on what county, and then if not, we'll know we have to have some earlier conversation about that," Burleson said.

The judge suggested the best way to do that would likely be through a letter with Dubose being sent a copy of it, too.

Burleson instructed attorneys on both sides to establish a preference of their top three counties "and then we'll see where we go from there."

The 25-year-old Dubose is accused of having shot to death 2 state corrections officers during an escape from a state prison transport bus on June 13, 2017.

The slain officers were Sgt. Curtis Billue, 58, and Sgt. Christopher Monica, 42, both of whom were assigned to the transportation department at Baldwin State Prison in Milledgeville. The 2 men lived in Milledgeville.

Family members of both officers again attended Wednesday's hearing for Dubose, who sat at the defense table with his attorneys and only occasionally looked behind him at those in the courtroom. Dubose wore tan colored pants, and a light blue dress shirt. His feet were shackled from the time he was escorted into the courtroom until the hearing concluded and then in a transport vehicle back to the Georgia Diagnostic and Class Prison near Jackson, where he is being held.

Dubose is charged with the 2 counts of malice murder, 2 counts of felony murder, 1 count of motor vehicle hijacking, and 1 count of felony escape. His co-defendant in the case, Donnie Rowe, now 44, also is charged with the same offenses. Like in the case of Dubose, Bradley is seeking the death penalty. Dubose and Rowe will be tried separately.

The 2 men escaped from a state prison transport bus, as it was traveling from Hancock State Prison through Putnam County and en route to the state prison in Butts County.

(source: The Union-Recorder)

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Prison that held 1st Georgia electric chair being torn down

A central Georgia county is tearing down an old, empty prison that was home to Georgia's 1st electric chair and was linked to an infamous lynching.

The 2-story brick building that anchored the Georgia State Prison Farm in Milledgeville is being torn down by Baldwin County, to the outrage of some locals and history buffs.

Demolition of the structure on Georgia 22 began last week.

Built in 1911, the prison was Georgia's main correction facility for more than 2 decades. Beset by chronic overcrowding, it was replaced by the Reidsville prison in the mid-1930s.

In 1924, the Milledgeville prison housed Georgia's 1st electric chair, dubbed "Old Sparky." That same year, Howard Hinton, 22, was the 1st of 162 Georgia prisoners to die by state-ordered electrocution at the prison, according to a state Department of Corrections history of Georgia's death penalty.

The penitentiary's numerous occupants included Bill Miner, an infamous stagecoach and train robber who was confined there until his death in 1913.

But its most notorious link was with the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory superintendent who was tried in Atlanta amid a climate of anti-Semitic prejudice and convicted of murdering a 13-year-old girl. Frank was abducted from the prison and later lynched near Marietta, nearly 120 miles away. It was unclear if the kidnappers, many of them well-to-do Marietta citizens, had help from inside the prison. Frank was posthumously pardoned by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles in 1986.

No official public announcement was made about the demolition, Baldwin County Manager Carlos Tobar said in an email.

The building was beyond repair and would've cost over $5 million just to stabilize, county commission chairman Tommy French said in a press release that was sent out after demolition began.

Baldwin County acquired the historic prison in 2013 when it failed to sell at a tax sale.

Edwin Atkins, who had organized a Facebook group dedicated to preserving the building, is one of the local residents distraught over its demolition. He said locals were unaware of the demolition until someone happened to drive by.

"It's part of my family history, but more than that, it's part of Georgia's history," Atkins said. His great-grandfather, the Rev. Edwin C. Atkins, was the prison chaplain. During his 14-year stint there, he preached sermons to the convicts and prayed with death row inmates before their executions. He maintained a detailed journal of daily occurrences in the prison, which Atkins still keeps today as a family heirloom.

Atkins was part of a grassroots effort to save the prison and the inmate artwork, much of it religious, that was still visible on its walls. Atkins recognizes the grim history of the prison, especially the disproportionate number of black prisoners who were put to death there, but calls it a "landmark in capital punishment."

"If you don't respect and promote your past, you don't know where you're going in the future," Atkins said.

Historian Hugh Harrington called the disrepair of the prison a "major failing" on the county's part. Harrington is the author of 3 books on Milledgeville's history.

"I think as a society, we need to know what came before us," Harrington said.

Members of the Milledgeville community are currently raising funds for a museum at the site of the Central State Hospital Depot. Baldwin County would "love" to donate the cornerstone of the prison to them, Tobar said. A historic marker for the prison will also be placed on site of the prison.

(source: Associated Press)

OHIO:

Clayton man sentenced to death in murder of childhood friend has motion denied----The former Northmont High School student sentenced to the death penalty for crimes involved in the murder of a childhood friend had his motion for reconsideration denied by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Austin Myers, 23, had asked the court to take another look at the case despite a 7-0 ruling on May 17 that affirmed his convictions and the imposition of the death penalty.

Myers was convicted in the death of Justin Back, 18, at Back's home outside Waynesville in January 2014. Investigators said Timothy Mosley actually stabbed Back to death, but that Myers concocted and instigated the robbery that turned into murder.

The ruling filed Wednesday and signed by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor read, "It is ordered by the court that the motion for reconsideration in this case is denied."

Myers is scheduled to be put to death on July 20, 2022. The court previously denied Myers' attorneys' attempts to get Myers' sentenced changed to life in prison without parole - the same sentence Mosley is serving.

Back, 18, was a 2013 Waynesville High School graduate who was going to enter the U.S. Navy in less than 2 weeks at the time of his death.

After Myers' original sentencing, Back's mother, Sandy Cates, said, "It's bittersweet. It's justice for Justin, but it's never going to bring Justin back."

Testimony showed Myers planned the crime, including acquiring septic chemicals he expected would decompose Back's body, but that Mosley killed Back during a struggle on the floor of the kitchen after a garrote designed to choke Back to death caught on his chin.

Myers and Back were friends until 8th grade, when Myers moved to Clayton. Testimony indicated Myers was the one who decided they should target Back's home, unaware the family safe contained only $70 at the time.

Myers' attorneys, Timothy McKenna and Roger Kirk, wrote in their motion to reconsider that the state's highest court's analysis "was flawed and ignored critical facts" and that Myers' death penalty sentence "is patently unfair when the actual killer received life without parole."

McKenna and Kirk didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell didn't return a message seeking comment but has said before that he anticipated the defense to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(source: Dayton Daily News)

TENNESSEE----impending execution

Execution of convicted East Tennessee killer could see another delay

Convicted killer Billy Ray Irick may see yet another delay in his date with death, pending an appeal over the 3-drug lethal injection method.

"It's been a very cumbersome, lengthy legal journey," defense attorney Greg Isaacs said.

Irick was sentenced to death in the rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer in 1985. At the core of the defense's argument is Irick's mental state.

"This has been well documented when he was extremely young," Isaacs said. "He had in patient treatment for his mental disease or defect. However, it didn't rise to the level of an insanity defense that the jury found viable."

Attorneys could lean on this challenge once again to save Irick's life.

Irick's attorney filed a motion for stay in the upcoming Aug. 9 execution. This comes after a judge last week upheld the state's use of controversial lethal injection combination.

"The defense team in a capital punishment case are going to challenge everything," Isaacs said. "They're going to challenge the means and methods of execution in Tennessee. They're going to challenge our lethal injection drugs."

Attorneys for 33 death row inmates are asking for a less painful method of execution, claiming the state's proposed 3-drug method would amount to torture.

The appeal has since been filed, prompting what could delay the decades-long case even longer.

"The best case scenario if you're Irick is you want that stay," Isaacs said. "You're praying, you're hoping, watching... your lawyers are there. Everybody's on the phone. That's what you're hoping for, that's what the defense team is hoping for, so it's going to be a very tense few days."

If his execution goes as planned, it will mark the 1st scheduled capital punishment in Tennessee since 2009.

(source: WATE news)

NEBRASKA----female faces death sentence

State will seek death penalty for Bailey Boswell in slaying of Sydney Loofe

State prosecutors revealed Wednesday that they will seek the death penalty for Bailey Boswell in the slaying of Lincoln store clerk Sydney Loofe.

If Boswell, 24, is found guilty of 1st-degree murder and is sentenced to death, she will be the 1st woman on Nebraska's death row in history, according to State Department of Corrections records.

Loofe disappeared in November after going on a date with Boswell that was arranged online.

The 24-year-old store clerk's body was found 3 weeks later, dismembered and wrapped in black plastic bags, in a rural area in south-central Nebraska, about an hour's drive west from where Boswell was living in Wilber, Nebraska.

Authorities had already announced that they were seeking the death penalty for Boswell's 51-year-old boyfriend, Aubrey Trail.

Trail, in calls to media, has claimed that he alone was responsible for Loofe's death, saying he accidentally choked her to death during a sexual fantasy and that Boswell was out of the room at the time.

The Nebraska Attorney General's Office has alleged that 2 aggravating factors exist to justify the death penalty for Trail: that the slaying exhibited "exceptional depravity" and that Trail had a substantial past history of violent crimes.

In the filing Wednesday, the AG's office alleged 1 aggravating factor for Boswell, that the slaying was especially heinous.

Boswell's court-appointed attorney, Todd Lancaster of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, declined to comment on Wednesday's development.

Boswell, 24, is a former standout basketball player from Leon, Iowa. She crisscrossed the country with Trail, trading in antiques. They were frequent visitors to casinos and resorts, according to Trail.

Initially the pair - in video messages posted on social media - denied involvement in Loofe's death. Later, though, Trail changed his story in calls to the media. Boswell, according to authorities, has not talked with investigators since being arrested, with Trail, in Branson, Missouri.

Boswell is scheduled to next appear in the murder case in Saline County District Court on Monday. She and Trail are also scheduled to be sentenced on Friday in federal court in Lincoln for defrauding a Kansas couple out of nearly $400,000 in a scam to buy a rare coin overseas.

Attorneys representing Trail and Boswell on Tuesday evening were allowed to inspect property the pair left behind at the basement apartment in Wilber they had rented. Ben Murray, Trail's court-appointed attorney, said that the items reminded him of things you'd find at a farm auction, such as antiques and old comic books.

He said that "shackles" listed as part of the property appeared to be antique, and not something that would be used to bind someone.

(source: Omaha World-Herald)

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

State moves forward with execution plans

The state of Nebraska is preparing for its 1st execution of a prisoner in 21 years. Only 2 weeks remain until the day that Carey Dean Moore is to be put to death.

The execution is polarizing, some saying to let the man die, others who want to stop the execution.

One of the most vocal opponents in Nebraska is state senator Ernie Chambers.

Chambers has been fighting the death penalty politically for almost as long as Moore has been on death row.

One of the issues some opponents have is that the State has not revealed the makers of the 4 drugs being used for lethal injection.

Senator Chambers recently asked the company Pfizer to take the State of Nebraska to court if corrections is using 1 of Pfizer's drugs.

In a statement, Pfizer said: "Our records do not show any sales of any restricted products to the Nebraska Department of Corrections. We are again asking the Nebraska Department of Corrections to return any Pfizer restricted product."

Chambers is continuing to research ways to stop the execution.

Sharon Johnson questions the impact of the drug cocktail as it has never been used before a state execution.

"I don't think the drugs have been proven, what if instead of a drug death it makes them a vegetable?"

Others like Jim Singletary say life in prison is punishment enough.

"If there are folks who want to split hairs and say electrocution is more harmful than putting someone to sleep with drugs, then I can understand that argument. To me, it's all cruel and unusual."

While some senators oppose the execution, 61 % of Nebraska voters wanted the death penalty in the state.

The execution is scheduled for August 14th.

(source: WOWT news)

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

2 more companies say they don't want their drugs used in Nebraska execution

2 more pharmaceutical companies have notified Nebraska officials that they don't want their drugs used in a lethal injection scheduled to take place in less than 2 weeks.

Whether the manufacturers will back up their words in court remains to be seen, but such a legal challenge represents one of the last ways to potentially derail the Aug. 14 execution of double-murderer Carey Dean Moore.

Representatives of Sandoz Inc. and Hikma Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday that they have not yet confirmed whether the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has obtained their products. Nebraska officials have repeatedly refused to disclose the source of the 4 substances they intend to use in the state's 1st lethal injection execution.

In the meantime, Michelle T. Quinn, general counsel for Sandoz North America, has said we "reserve all of our rights to take necessary legal action to ensure the proper use of our medications." The statement was contained in a Monday letter addressed to Nebraska's governor, attorney general and corrections director.

Messages left after 5 p.m. with press officers for Gov. Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson were not returned Wednesday night. A spokeswoman for corrections said the department would take the 4 days allowed under the public records law to respond to a request for the letters sent by the drug companies.

The sequence of drugs Nebraska plans to use in Moore's execution are diazepam, a sedative known more commonly as Valium; fentanyl citrate, a painkiller linked to the national epidemic of opioid addiction; cisatracurium besylate, a paralyzing agent that can stop breathing; and potassium chloride, which can trigger heart attack in high doses.

Sandoz is one of several manufacturers of cisatracurium, while Hikma Pharmaceuticals is one of several makers of fentanyl.

Some death penalty opponents view a lawsuit by a drug manufacturer as one of the last avenues to delay the 1st execution in Nebraska in 21 years. That's largely because Moore, who has spent 38 years on death row, has not mounted his own legal fight to block the execution.

Recent events in Nevada lend credence to the view. Alvogen, a different drugmaker, prompted a last-minute delay of a July 11 execution in that state. Like Moore, the Nevada inmate also has said he wants his execution to be carried out.

London-based Hikma successfully joined the Nevada lawsuit on Monday after learning that corrections officials there had obtained the company's fentanyl. Nevada officials bought the drug through a 3rd-party distributor even though the company repeatedly said it didn't want its products used for capital punishment, the company alleged in a legal document filed this week.

In addition to being the first 2 states trying to use fentanyl in an execution, Nebraska and Nevada also hold contracts with Cardinal Health, a 3rd-party drug distributor. Legal filings in Nevada say Cardinal Health sold the 2 disputed drugs to Nevada prison officials.

Steven Weiss, a spokesman for Hikma, said Wednesday that the company has recently asked Nebraska officials to do 2 things. First, tell the company if the state government possesses any drugs manufactured by Hikma. And if so, provide an official affidavit pledging that the drugs will be used only for legitimate patient care.

"We are disappointed that these efforts in Nebraska have been unsuccessful to date," Weiss said.

Weiss declined to say Wednesday whether the company will file a lawsuit to seek the return of any drugs Nebraska may have obtained. But the company has offered to refund the cost of drugs Nebraska purchased for the execution.

Earlier this week, an official for Pfizer renewed a demand the company first made in October that Nebraska return any Pfizer drugs purchased for capital punishment. Corrections officials have not responded to the demands.

Pfizer, which makes fentanyl, diazepam and potassium chloride, has ruled out taking legal action to force the return of the drugs.

The four-drug protocol planned by Nebraska has never been used in an execution. Death penalty opponents say that raises the possibility of a botched execution and unnecessary suffering for the inmate in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska and state newspapers have sued to compel public disclosure of the source of the drugs. A district court judge ordered the information released, but the order was put on hold after the attorney general appealed.

Moore, 60, was sentenced to death row for the 1979 shootings of Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland. He is the longest-serving of the state's 12 condemned inmates.

(source: Omaha World-Herald)

ARIZONA:

After 23 Years on Death Row, Barry Jones Sees His Conviction Overturned: Arizona Must Retry or Release Him Immediately----Barry Jones insisted upon his innocence for more than 2 decades. A federal judge just threw out his conviction.

After more than 23 years insisting upon his innocence while living on Arizona's death row, Barry Lee Jones had his conviction thrown out by a federal judge on Tuesday. In a 91-page order filed from Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess found that the verdict in Jones's 1995 trial was the product of a "rush to judgment" by law enforcement, whose "lack of due diligence and thorough professional investigation" was compounded by the failures of Jones's defense attorneys. Absent such failures, he wrote, "there is a reasonable probability that his jury would not have convicted him of any of the crimes with which he was charged and previously convicted." Burgess ordered that Jones be immediately retried or released.

The order is a sharp rebuke to the Arizona Attorney General's Office, which has stubbornly defended Jones's conviction even as its theory of the crime has fallen apart. In a state that has exonerated 9 people from death row, prosecutors fought to preserve Jones's conviction, relying on procedural barriers while showing indifference to the grave flaws in the case. That Jones was able to overcome such barriers is extraordinary on its own - and further proof of the rot that pervaded the case at every stage. Burgess's order comes five months after an evidentiary hearing revealed stunning neglect on the part of his defense attorneys at both the trial and post-conviction levels - and profound tunnel vision by Pima County Sheriff's Detective Sonia Pesqueira, who led the investigation.

Jones, now 59, was convicted and sentenced to die for raping and murdering his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter, Rachel Gray. The child died from a blow to the stomach, which tore her duodenum, part of her lower intestine, leading to a fatal condition called peritonitis. Jones was arrested shortly after dropping off the child and her mother, Angela Gray, at the hospital early in the morning on May 2, 1994. But the evidence against him was flimsy, based on a narrow window of time during which he'd been seen with Rachel in his van on the afternoon of May 1. A pair of 8-year-old twins would say they saw Jones hitting her while driving the vehicle, and drops of blood in the van and on his clothes were used as proof that Jones had raped the little girl. But there was no other evidence to support this. Investigators never even collected the clothing Rachel wore that day.

At the evidentiary hearing in Tucson last fall, Pesqueira, who has since retired, conceded that Jones became her sole suspect within hours of seeing Rachel's body at the hospital - and that she never investigated the timing of Rachel's fatal injury, merely assuming it had occurred the day before she died. Prosecutors nevertheless maintained that Pesqueira "followed the evidence of guilt for Rachel's injuries, and that road led directly to Jones," while insisting that the quality of her work was irrelevant, since the question at hand was whether Jones's defense attorneys were constitutionally ineffective in violation of his Sixth Amendment rights. "Law enforcement has nothing to do with this case," Assistant Arizona Attorney General Myles Braccio argued at an oral argument in March.

Burgess disagreed. Pesqueira's failures were inextricable from those of Jones's defense attorneys, he found. "There were several significant red flags that should have objectively and reasonably alerted counsel to the need to investigate the evidence regarding the timing of Rachel's injuries," Burgess wrote. Among them was evidence of alternate suspects, such as Jones's girlfriend, who was "a serial abuser of her children," as Assistant Arizona Federal Public Defender Cary Sandman reminded the court last spring. At the evidentiary hearing, Pesqueira seemed clueless when shown statements alleging that Gray had hit her children and thrown them down the stairs. "That would have been a good thing to have," she said.

That the evidence no longer supported Jones's conviction was clear long before the hearing took place, however. In a letter to Jones's attorneys last year, the attorney general's office wrote that the current Pima County medical examiner "did not dispute the conclusions of your experts." These experts have long argued that Rachel's injuries predated the window presented by the state. Renowned pediatric pathologist Janice Ophoven, who first looked at the case in 2002, has insisted for years that Arizona's theory of the crime was impossible. At the evidentiary hearing, Ophoven explained how Rachel's abdominal injury developed over time, with the severity of her illness unclear until it was too late.

Burgess clearly found the defense's experts compelling, while remaining unconvinced by the ever-shifting opinions of the state's key witness, former Pima County Medical Examiner John Howard, whose estimates regarding Rachel's fatal injury have been bewilderingly fluid since he first handled the case back in 1994. "Dr. Howard's inconsistent answers are plain in the differing testimony he provided on direct examination, on cross-examination, and during examination by the Court during the evidentiary hearing," Burgess wrote.

"Contrasting the evidence presented at trial with the evidence that could have been presented at trial" made clear that Jones's trial was unconstitutional, Burgess found. While he did not address the issue of innocence explicitly, the new evidence "undermines considerably the confidence in the outcome," he wrote.

A Maze of Procedural Barriers

In a lengthy investigation into the Jones case last year, The Intercept reviewed thousands of pages of trial transcripts, police records, and investigative reports that revealed several hallmarks of wrongful convictions. 2 jurors from Jones's original trial expressed misgivings about the outcome, telling The Intercept that they had been disturbed by the weak defense Jones received. One juror, Hildegard Stoecker, was particularly troubled by the case. "It lessens my faith in the judicial system," she said.

Despite the egregious flaws in Jones's conviction, procedural barriers might easily have led to his eventual execution. Among the considerable obstacles was the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, passed one year after Jones was sent to death row. If not for a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a different Arizona case, Martinez v. Ryan, the law might well have prevented any chance for Jones to show the evidence casting doubt on his conviction. Under AEDPA, if attorneys failed to bring a claim of ineffective assistance during state post-conviction proceedings, that claim was forever barred from being heard in federal court. But Martinez carved out a "narrow exception," as Burgess noted, holding that if such a claim was itself the result of ineffective lawyering by post-conviction counsel, a defendant should have a chance at relief.

The ruling was a lifeline for Jones. "Before Martinez, our office lost many, many, many ineffective assistance cases because the claims were never raised in the state court," Sandman said. "If Barry's initial appeal in the 9th Circuit had moved a little more rapidly, it could have been decided before Martinez and he might have been executed."

"The evidentiary hearing is the key," said Dale Baich, supervising attorney of the Arizona Federal Public Defender's Capital Habeas Unit. "All our clients really want is one fair opportunity to have a full, fair hearing at the post-conviction level." But such chances are exceedingly rare. Even under Martinez, there was no guarantee of a hearing. If there was any reason for Jones to feel optimistic about his chances before the ruling, it was that Burgess granted an evidentiary hearing at all. Even then, ineffective assistance claims are notoriously hard to win. Under the U.S. Supreme Court case Strickland v. Washington, Jones had to show, 1st, that his attorneys had provided an unconstitutionally inadequate defense, and 2nd, that the outcome of his trial would likely have been different absent their failures. In his order, Burgess spent considerable detail explaining why Jones met the burden demanded by Strickland.

The state of Arizona has shown contempt for the resources Jones's current lawyers have devoted to his case. "With a seemingly limitless budget, full-time counsel, investigators, support staff, and a horde of new experts, Jones has spent the past 15 years re-investigating his case," prosecutors argued in a January filing. At the evidentiary hearing, Braccio and Assistant Attorney General Lacey Gard repeatedly contrasted the money spent by Sandman and his colleagues with the comparatively slim resources of Jones's original attorneys, arguing that the lawyers could not be considered ineffective for having limited funds.

Burgess flatly dismissed the notion. "The Court rejects any suggestion by Respondents that trial counsel's deficient pretrial investigation be excused on the grounds that funding for investigators and experts was lacking or inadequate," he said. In fact, with regard to the failures of Jones's post-conviction attorney, James Hazel, Burgess drew a parallel to the case of Anthony Ray Hinton, in which the Supreme Court found "counsel's failure to request additional funding for an expert was unreasonable and constituted deficient performance." Hinton was exonerated from Alabama's death row in 2015.

"Right on Time"

On Tuesday afternoon, Jones's legal team gathered in a conference room in their Tucson office to call Jones. "They don't get short-notice phone calls very often," defense investigator Andrew Sowards said. "He kind of knew something was up." Upon hearing the news, he said, "there was a sense of relief in Barry's voice I've never heard."

In an email, the Arizona Attorney General's Office told The Intercept that it had no comment on the order. If the state does not initiate a retrial within 45 days, Jones must be released. As they wait for the state to signal its next move, Jones's legal team is reaching out to his family members, many of whom he has not seen in decades. In his time on death row, his 3 children have grown up and have kids of their own. Speaking to The Intercept over the phone last year, Jones said he felt like an emotional burden on them. "I'm hurting everybody out there by being here. I've got to live with that. That's not easy." Decades of severe isolation have taken their toll, not to mention the 33 executions carried out in Arizona since 1995, when Jones was sent to death row. "They've killed friends of mine," he said.

The ruling came "right on time," Sandman said. "He was really struggling." As Sowards says, "It's a tough life for a guy with that kind of conviction in any prison - especially on death row." For 23 years, Jones has been seen as a child rapist and murderer. To be able to return to his unit to share the news was powerful vindication of what he has insisted all along: that he did not commit the crime that sent him to die.

Sowards himself was emotional over the decision. He joined the Arizona Federal Public Defender's Office in 2008, just as Jones's initial federal habeas petition had been denied. In the years that followed, he uncovered critical information that had been withheld by the prosecution at trial. Like all the members of Jones's legal team, Sowards believed in his innocence.

To Sylvia Lett, Jones's former federal habeas attorney, it was a stroke of good luck that the case fell to Burgess. Speaking to The Intercept last year, she had a hard time remembering when a federal district judge in Arizona granted relief in a death penalty case during the years she represented Jones. "It took a district judge from Alaska having the guts to say, 'Hey, wait a second, there's something wrong here,'" Lett said.

"It just seems like this judge got it," Sowards said. "He saw the state's investigation for what it was, which was shoddy, the defense investigation for what it was, which was nonexistent, and he said, 'That's not fair.' And that's how it's supposed to work."

(source: theintercept.com)

US MILITARY:

Former Wisconsin airman spared again from the death penalty in double homicide conviction

A former senior airman from southwest Wisconsin has been spared the death penalty for a 2nd time on a double homicide conviction and will instead spend the rest of his life behind bars.

A military panel last month resentenced Andrew Witt to life in prison without parole in connection to the deaths of a fellow airman Andrew Schliepsiek and his wife, Jamie Schliepsiek, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

The 36-year-old was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2005. But a military appeals court vacated the ruling in 2016, and returned the case to a lower court.

Witt's attorney said the life sentence was delivered last month, but prosecutors again sought the death penalty.

Maj. Christopher Goewert said the defense presented evidence of a traumatic brain injury that Witt suffered months before the attack. He said the defense also showed that Witt has had good behavior during the 14 years he's spent in prison.

Witt's family testified that he's remained a central part of their lives and has provided emotional support despite being incarcerated.

Witt also provided a statement expressing remorse and apologizing to the victims and their families, Goewert said.

"The crime was aberrant behavior and was a perfect storm of events/problems/stressors," Goewert wrote. "As his life had value to others, mercy was appropriate."

(source: Associated Press)

VATICAN CITY/GLOBAL:

Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases "because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a shift in Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.

Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before - including in 2015 in an address to Congress - added the change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church - the compendium of Catholic beliefs.

The pontiff, who is the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, said the church would work "with determination" for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.

Previously, the catechism allowed the death penalty in some cases, if it was "the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor," even if in reality "cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender today are very rare, if not practically noneexistent."

The new formal teaching acknowledges that there are new ways to protect society. "There is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes," it says.

"In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption."

Abolishing the death penalty has clearly been one of Francis' top priorities for many years, along with saving the environment and caring for immigrants and refugees. He mentioned it in his address to the American Congress on his trip to the United States in 2015, saying that "from the beginning of my ministry" he had been led "to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty."

He added, "I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes."

On that trip, Francis made a point of going to a prison in Pennsylvania and meeting with a few prisoners and their families.

He wrote a detailed letter in 2015 to the International Commission against the death penalty, arguing that capital punishment "does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance."

In it, he made 2 arguments that specifically spoke to the American context: The death penalty is illegitimate because many convictions have later been found to be in error and have been overturned, and because executions of prisoners in some states have been badly botched.

(source: New York Times)

SRI LANKA:

Executing certain category of convicts absurd: JO

The Government's selective approach towards the implementation of the death penalty on a certain category of convicted criminals was absurd, the Joint Opposition yesterday said.

Addressing a news briefing, Professor G.L. Peiris said the President declared that the convicts who were sentenced to death for drug trafficking and still continue to traffic drugs from inside the prison would be executed.

"However, there was a notable case where a drug smuggler conspired and assassinated a High Court Judge who was hearing his case.

"The drug smuggler was later sentenced to death on charges of the killing of the Judge but not on drug smuggling.

"If the Government goes ahead with executing convicted drug smugglers, this convict will not be hanged," he said.

He said Justice Minister Thalatha Atukorala had said recently that the Government has not come to a final decision yet on implementing the death penalty.

"This shows that the policies of the Government are being made based on sudden thoughts. There is no content policy-making process," he said.

(source: Daily Mirror)

TURKEY:

Turkish leader vows death penalty after bomb kills mom, baby

Turkey could move soon to reinstate the death penalty, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday while attending the funeral of a young mother and her infant son who were killed by a roadside bomb.

Turkish authorities have blamed Tuesday's attack near the borders of Iran and Iraq on Kurdish rebels. They said the mother and child were targeted with an improvised explosive device on a road near the town of Yuksekova.

The 24-year-old woman was driving back from visiting her husband, a sergeant in the Turkish army, with her 11-month-old son. She died instantly, while the baby died in a hospital.

Erdogan, who flew to the central Turkish city of Sivas to attend the funeral, vowed to press ahead with the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party "until the last terrorist remains."

Responding to mourners' shouts calling for the death penalty, Erdogan reiterated that he would not hesitate to approve capital punishment if Turkey's Parliament passed a law authorizing it.

"The steps that we will take on the issue are close," the president said.

Turkey has not executed anyone since 1984. The country abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its bid to join the European Union.

The rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, have waged a three-decade old insurgency in Turkey's mostly Kurdish southeast region. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.

The group is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

(source: Associated Press)

KENYA:

Killing the death penalty

Prisoners on death row and those serving life sentences could be handed a lifeline if recommendations by a task force are implemented.

More than 7,700 prisoners have been sentenced to die or are serving life sentences.

The Task Force on Review of the Mandatory Nature of the Death Penalty has recommended changes to the Penal Code, the Prisons Act and the Kenya Defence Forces Act.

This could lead to the reviewing of 838 death sentences, 6,938 life sentences and the sentences of 2,747 inmates, whose death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment in 2016.

(source: The Star)

IRAN:

IRGC-Affiliated Media Trying to "Prepare Public Opinion" For Execution of Kurdish Man

Relatives of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish man on death row in Iran, have raised concerns that his chances of imminent execution have increased since several soldiers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in late July 2018.

"The security situation in the Kurdistan region has been very tense because of the armed confrontation with PJAK and the deaths of border guardsmen," a source close to the family told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 31.

"The Islamic Republic usually tries to impose calm by carrying out executions, and for the past few weeks, some sites run by the IRGC and the Intelligence Ministry have been publishing articles every day in order to justify Raminís death sentence," said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the fear of reprisals for speaking publicly about the case.

"It seems they are trying to prepare public opinion for his execution," added the source.

On July 21, 2018, a militant group known as the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) claimed responsibility for the killings of at least 10 soldiers belonging to the IRGC in the city of Marivan in Iranís Kurdistan Province.

Since then, a number of news outlets affiliated with the IRGC, the judiciary, and the security establishment have launched a propaganda campaign against Panahi, stating he deserves to be hanged for the alleged "terrorist" activities.

In April 2018, Iran's Supreme Court upheld Panahi's death sentence for his membership in the outlawed Kurdish nationalist group, Komala, and for allegedly drawing a weapon in a clash with IRGC agents.

Panahi insists he did not participate in any armed action nor did he reach for a weapon.

On July 23, 2 days after the deaths of the IRGC soldiers, Mashregh, a website affiliated with the IRGC, claimed Panahi had confessed to firing 30 bullets at IRGC agents before running out of ammunition and getting arrested in June 2017.

"These sites repeatedly mention his Komala membership and publish photos of him inside a Komala camp," the source told CHRI. "No one has denied that he was a member of Komala but the issue is that he did not reach for a weapon. He was not armed."

UN human rights experts have called for his death sentence to be annulled in light of legal concerns about the handling of his case, including reports that Panahi had been tortured, denied access to a lawyer and medical care, and that he had been held incommunicado.

Since his death sentence was upheld in April 2018, Panahi has been moved back and forth between solitary confinement and the public ward of the Central Prison in Sanandaj, creating the impression that his execution was imminent.

(source: Iran Human Rights)

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

Iran death penalty charges in economic crisis 'breach international law': Amnesty

At least 29 people have been arrested for "economic disruption," Iranian officials announced last weekend, with many facing charges that carry the death penalty.

Amnesty International on Wednesday expressed "alarm" over the arrests, saying that the application of the death penalty for non-violent crimes would be "in direct breach of international law."

The plunging value of the Iranian currency and worsening economic situation has prompted a string of public protests this year. In an apparent attempt to be seen to be tackling the crisis, officials announced dozens of arrests and blamed unnamed "enemies" for the rial's decline.

"Amnesty International is alarmed at the judiciary's announcement that it has charged individuals arrested in relation to the country's economy and currency crisis with 'corruption on earth' (efsad-e fel arz), which incurs the death penalty," an Amnesty spokesperson told Arab News.

"This would be in direct breach of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the 'most serious crimes' - those involving intentional killing. Amnesty International's research has shown that basic fair trial guarantees are absent in death penalty cases in Iran."

The statement follows warnings from other campaign groups over the human-rights situation in Iran.

"In recent weeks and months we've had many protests," Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesman for the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group, told Arab News on Tuesday.

"Human rights are suffering ... and every day they suffer more. Iran is among the biggest violators of human rights in the world today."

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh said that the arrests connected to the economic crisis amounted to a PR exercise by the Iranian government.<

"The arrests by the regime are mostly cosmetic actions aimed at projecting that the Islamic Republic is taking actions to address corruption and address people's grievances," he said.

"The regime is also trying to point (the) finger at some individuals rather than on the systematic financial corruption within the political establishment." Amid widespread public anger, demonstrations spread to the historic city of Isfahan on Tuesday, with protesters demanding an end to the Iranian regime's costly interference in the affairs of neighboring countries in the region.

Video footage showed hundreds of protesters shouting: "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, my soul is Iran's redemption." The slogan refers to Tehran's military adventures in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, at the expense of the domestic economy.

"The protests in Isfahan are significant because they highlight people's ongoing and growing outrage and frustration with the theocratic establishment, as the economy is in shambles," said Rafizadeh. "Despite the regime's crackdown, people continue to take to streets as they can't make ends meet."

(source: Arab News)

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Website Manager on Death-row, Transferred to the Solitary Confinement

Mohammad Hossein Maleki, sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court on the charge of "corruption on earth" through the sale of CCcam and "unlocking satellite channels", was transferred to the solitary confinement on Sunday, July 29.

According to a close source, on Sunday, July 29. Mohammad Hossein Maleki, the manager of Asre-Javan website and its Telegram channel who is held at Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan, was transferred to the solitary confinement.

One of Maleki's relatives told IHR, "Mohammad Hossein Maleki is probably sent to the solitary confinement in order to be put under pressure and make a forced confession. Over the last few days, Maleki's family and lawyer were pressured because of passing on the information to human rights institutes."

While expressing its concern, Iran Human Rights warns about the illegal pressure that is put on this prisoner because of making his unfair verdict known to the public and emphasizes that any confession that is obtained from him is illegal.

Mohammad Hossein Maleki, known as Aryan, 47, from Isfahan, was arrested by the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence on March 1, 2017, and was sentenced to "corruption on earth through organized activities regarding the sale of CCcam and several satellite accounts" at Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Isfahan. In the early stages of the investigation, the interrogator had ordered for suspension of prosecution for Mohammad Hossein Maleki, however, the prosecutor objected the order and the case was sent to the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, and then to the Supreme Court, and finally to Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Isfahan.

He was also sentenced to a fine of 10 million Rials on the charge of "using satellite reception equipment" by Branch 101 of Shahin Shahr Court.

(source: Iran Human Rights)

INDIA:

Man gets death, another life term for teacher's rape-murder

A fast-track court on Wednesday awarded death penalty to 1 and life imprisonment to another in rape and murder of a 58-year-old teacher in the Jamunamukh area of Hojai district in Central Assam.

The probe into the case was even monitored by the PMO after it triggered mass protests in the state. The Court of Additional District and Session Judge in Hojai awarded death penalty to Mainul Hoque and life imprisonment to Selimuddin without any provision for parole. The court also imposed fine of Rs 20,000 each on the 2.

The teacher was accosted and murdered by the duo on May 31, 2017, when she was returning home after taking classes in the Lower Primary School where she had been working for years. The accused threw her body into the Kopili river. After the incident evoked mass protests, CM Sarbananda Sonowal sent a high-level team to help in the investigation.

(source: tribuneindia.com)

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Madhya Pradesh to felicitate officials for speedy child rape trials----About 60 officials from prosecution, forensic science laboratory (FSL) and police departments have been invited to the chief minister's residence on Friday for the felicitation.

From February 28 to July 27 this year, 7 convicts were awarded death sentences in Katni, Dhar, Shahdol, Sagar and Indore districts. Officials from Mandsaur and Satna districts have also been called to the state capital.

After becoming the 1st state to pass a law awarding death penalty for rape of girls aged below 12 years, the Madhya Pradesh government has decided to felicitate the officials involved in such trials in which the death penalty was awarded.

About 60 officials from prosecution, forensic science laboratory (FSL) and police departments have been invited to the chief minister's residence on Friday for the felicitation.

Additional director general (women cell) Anvesh Mangal said that officials, including investigating officers and their supervisors, will be handed over certificates of appreciation.

From February 28 to July 27 this year, 7 convicts were awarded death sentences in Katni, Dhar, Shahdol, Sagar and Indore districts. Officials from Mandsaur and Satna districts have also been called to the state capital.

After protests over rape of minors in the state, the home and police departments are regularly monitoring all such cases. While reviewing the law and order situation on July 10, Chouhan had asked top officials of home and police departments to ensure that death penalty is awarded to those convicted of raping minor girls.

(source: indianexpress.com)

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Death for Child Rape" - Lok Sabha Passes the Bill

The Lok Sabha passed a Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill by a voice note on Monday, 30th July 2018 making the offence of raping a girl below the age of 12 years punishable with death. The aim of this bill is to bring some new amendments in the provisions of Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure, The Indian Evidence Act and also, in the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act. The new bill has also replaced the earlier ordinance which was bought in the picture by the Central Government in the incident of Kathua rape and murder case. In April 2018, a minor 8-year-old girl 'Asifa Bano' was abducted and brutally raped then murdered, the incident shook the whole nation and there was immense need of laws for such monsters.

Recent Amendments in Indian Penal Code

10-years imprisonment for rape: Before this amendment, the punishment for rape of women provided under Section 376(1) of IPC was 7 years, but now it's sought to be 10 years and also, the punishment may be extended to life imprisonment.

Punishment for Rape of child below 16 years of age: Now, a new subsection (3) is sought to be added in Section 376 which makes the offence of raping a girl below 16 years, punishable with imprisonment for a minimum period of 20 years, also the punishment may extend up to life imprisonment.

Death penalty: The new amendment focuses on inserting Section 376 DB which makes the gang rape of a girl below 12 years of age punishable with the death penalty.

Further, the previous existing sections 228A is sought to be amended to include the offences such as 'bar of disclosure of victim's identity' in cases of Section 376(3), 376 DA, and 376 DB.

Also, the amendment needs to be made in the section 166A of Indian Penal Code to provide for punishment to Public Servants whosoever fails in registering complaints in the cases of newly inserted sections.

Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure

As per new sub (1A) that is sought to be included in Section 173 of the CrPC, investigation in the newly inserted sections is to be completed within a period of 2 months from the date of the complaint.

Section 438 of the CrPC is likely to be amended, which grants for anticipatory bail. As per the new amendments made in the criminal laws, no anticipatory bail can be granted to the person for the new offences inserted in the law.

Now, even the regular bail applications that are being filed under Section 439 of CrPC will only be heard after the period of 15 days, by giving notice to the Public Prosecutor.

To clarify the nature of newly inserted offences which are non-bailable and cognizable, and are to be tried by the Sessionís Court; the First Schedule of the Code of Criminal Procedure needs to be amended.

Under the Evidence Act, Sections A is sought to be amended so as to include the newly inserted sections.

Most of the members of the Lok Sabha supported the Bill, but few points were raised by Pinaki Misra, BJD MP. According to the MP, "The newly created offences should be gender neutral, which means same punishment to be given to the offenders who commit the crime on boys under the age of 16 or 12 years. Doing so will attract lesser punishments under the POCSO Act. He also suggested that the bill be should be sent to the Selection Committee for any further examination."

(source: myadvo.in)

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Gang rape of 11-year-old: Family wants death penalty for all 17 accused men

Slogans against rape and child abuse rent the air as hundreds came together at Valluvar Kottam on Tuesday evening to condemn the brutal gang rape of a 11-year-old over a period of 7 months.

While the girl's sister and father demanded that all the rapists be hanged, other protesters chanted, 'we condemn rape', 'rise up against sexual violence', and 'fight back now, don't wait until your daughter and sisters are raped'. The child's sister said she was hoping for a speedy trial in the case and maximum punishment for the rapists.

She said the child is still recovering and has not returned to school.

"It will take a while for her to cope with the trauma. The girl is being given regular couselling," she said, adding that she decided to participate in the event to create awareness and help prevent such incidents in the future.

Upset over some people blaming the family members for being negligent and not spotting behavioural changes in the girl, another relative said the men targeted the girl when she returned from school and when she went down to play inside the apartment complex.

"The family did not expect this to happen within a gated community," said the relative.

"When even adults are wary of confronting sexual predators, it isn't fair to expect the girl to gather the courage and report the issue to her family, since she was being threatened by her assaulters to remain silent," he said.

Activists and other families from the apartment complex where the rape occurred expressed their solidarity with the girl and her family. Several passersby also joined in and highlighted the need for stringent punishment for those who abuse children.

The hearing impaired child was assaulted by at least 17 men who drugged her with injections, spiked soft drinks and other substances.

The incident came to light when she reported it to her sister on July 15.

(source: The Times of India)

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Bhopal: 5 got death sentence for raping, killing minors in MP in 45 days, informs ADG prosecution

Enforcement of Capital Punishment Ordinance on April 21, has failed to desist people from indulging in immoral activities like rape and molestation in the state. Rapists have been awarded capital punishment in 5 different cases of minor's rape by courts in the state.

In total, the courts in state have awarded death penalty to rapists in 7 rape cases. An important bill seeking to provide death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday.

ADG prosecution Rajendra Kumar informed Free Press that bill passed by Lok Sabha is 1 step ahead in executing capital punishment. Now the bill has to pass in Rajya Sabha and president of India will approve it before it becomes law.

He said that the state government have passed the bill in state assembly in which proved for capital punishment for the rapists of girls below age of 12. He added that many factors are common between the rapists in such cases including they are alcoholic, take sedatives, watch pornographic content and belong to low income group or are slum dwellers.

He also informed that the department is monitoring other cases and putting them in fast track court for speedy disposal. In just 2 1/2 months time 5 men have been convicted and sentenced to death for raping and killing minors in the state.

May 12: 26-year-old man gets double death sentence for raping and killing nephew's 4-month-old daughter in Indore.

May 17: 19-year-old man sentenced to death by a court in Dhar for raping and killing 4-year-old girl.

July 7: 40-year-old man sentenced to death by a special court in Rehli of Sagar for raping a 9-year-old girl at a temple on May 21.

July 27: 25-year-old ice-cream seller awarded double death sentence by a special court in Gwalior district for raping and murdering a 6-year-old girl on June 20-21 intervening night.

July 27: 33-year-old auto-rickshaw driver sentenced to death by a special court in Katni for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old school girl on July 4.

May 13: In Shahdol culprit Vinod alias Rahul sentenced for capital punishment for rape and murder of 4 year old.

In Dhar 4 year old girl was raped and murdered the culprit was sentenced death penalty.

(source: The Free Press Jounral)

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Indian Government Approves Death Penalty for Maritime Piracy - Reports

India's cabinet has approved a bill that will punish piracy at sea with death penalty or life in prison, local media reported.

The draft law seeks to improve the safety of the nation's navigation after a rise in attacks on vessels along critical sea routes, official sources told the NDTV television.

The Indian authorities are bringing the law as a part of commitment made by India while signing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, NDTV reported. The UNCLOS was ratified by India in 1995.

India has reportedly been working since last year on boosting maritime patrols on key sea lanes. Its Navy has been increasingly protecting Indian sea traffic and crews in the Indian Ocean.

In 2015, Indian Defense Ministry said that Somalian pirates were relocating their operations from the Gulf of Aden near the coast of Somalia closer to India.

Last year, Somalian pirates reportedly captured an Indian cargo ship with 11 crew members aboard en route from Dubai to Yemen.

Somalia has been plagued by civil war since 1991. Years of lawlessness and corruption have provided local pirates with ample opportunities, hijacking international ships for ransom with relative impunity.

(soruce: sputniknews.com)

AUSTRALIA/MALAYSIA:

DPM: Malaysia needs to 'look into capital punishment' before requesting to extradite Sirul

Malaysia needs to look into its capital punishment laws, before making an application to extradite, Sirul Azhar Umar who is being detained in Australia.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said this to reporters at the parliament lobby, here, today.

She said the government has not "specifically discussed about Sirul's case at this moment".

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop who is on a working visit here, said today that there has been no application for extradition of convicted killer and former policeman Sirul Azhar from Malaysia.

Bishop reiterated that before Australia received any application from the Malaysian government, it was inappropriate for her to speculate.

Bishop further said further discussion needed to be held on Malaysia's intention to consider the abolishment of the death penalty.

"This is a position that Australia has held for some time... we oppose the death penalty both at home and abroad, in fact we advocate strongly for the abolishment of the death penalty.

"We are on the United Nations' human rights council now and the abolishment of death penalty is one of the pillars of their advocacy.

"Sirul is currently being held at the Australia Immigration Detention. As the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said recently, Malaysia has not made any extradition application.

"It would be inappropriate for me to speculate until such time as Malaysia makes an application for extradition under existing treaty between the two countries," she said during a press conference after paying Wan Azizah a courtesy visit at the Parliament building this morning.

(source: New Straits Times)

AUGUST 1, 2018:

TEXAS----new execution date

Police officer's killer gets execution date

A 60-year-old man on death row for killing a Houston police officer more than 30 years ago has received an execution date.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Tuesday that a judge has signed an order setting Robert Jennings for lethal injection on Jan. 30 in Huntsville.

Jennings faces execution for fatally shooting Elston Howard, a Houston Police vice officer, at an adult bookstore in Houston in July 1988.

Jennings was on parole at the time of the killing after serving 10 years of a 30-year sentence for robbery.

Wintesses said the officer was arresting a bookstore clerk for showing movies without a license when Jennings walked in and opened fire.

Jennings' attorneys have questioned whther jury instructions during the punishment phase of his trial were proper.

(source: Associated Press)

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With pretrial set, death penalty still on the table for suspect in hotel clerk killing

1 of the defendants facing murder charges in the death of a local hotel clerk received a pretrial date Tuesday.

First Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Kerye Ashmore said Tuesday that the case against Reginald Campbell is set for pretrial on Sept. 19. Ashmore said all penalty options for the charges are still on the table including the death penalty.

Court records show that Jim Fallon, judge of the 15th state district court, denied Campbell's request for a new attorney Tuesday. Campbell is represented in the case by Susan Anderson who could not be immediately reached for comment on the judge's decision.

Campbell has pleaded not guilty to charges of capital murder in the course of a felony, murder and aggravated robbery in the death of Brandon Hubert, 32, who was found unresponsive at Quality Suites in Sherman on Aug. 11,2017.

In the following days, the department released few details on the investigation but did circulate photos on social media of a woman who was wanted for questioning in connection with the case. Sherman Police said the woman in the photo turned out to be Karalyn Marie Cross and the break led to the identification of Nikeya Grant and Campbell as suspects.

On Aug. 18, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas issued a federal warrant for Campbell's arrest for an unlawful flight charge and on Aug. 23, law enforcement officers encountered Campbell near Columbia, South Carolina. Information released to the press at that time said that Campbell resisted and assaulted the officers, which resulted in him escaping.

He was taken into custody in Mount Vernon, New York, in mid-October. Campbell was located at an apartment complex there, and was apprehended by U.S. Marshals and officers of the Mount Vernon and Yonkers police departments. Sherman Police Department Chief Zachary Flores said at the time that the Texas Rangers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also assisted in the investigation.

(source: Herald Democrat)

MASSACHUSETTS:

Death penalty does not belong in Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker recently called for the death penalty to be imposed on convicted cop killers. This statement came after the death of Sean Gannon, a Yarmouth K-9 officer who was fatally shot in the head while serving an arrest warrant.

Baker supports the death penalty' for cop killers in Mass.

The killing of a Massachusetts police officer has some Republicans calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty for the murder of law enforcement officers.

As statistics indicate, the death penalty is not a deterrent, does not work, and too many innocent people have been placed on death row only to be later found innocent on the crime in which they were accused.

Furthermore, one person's life is not more valuable that the next person's life due to their chosen profession. Massachusetts need not be grouped in the same category as execution-prone states like Texas and Florida.

Stephen Crooker, Westfield

(source: Letter to the Editor, masslive.com)

PENNSYLVANIA:

Pennsylvania state commission scrutinizes flaws in death penalty

In late June, the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on Capital Punishment issued a critical report detailing the issues surrounding capital punishment in the state. The 270-page report, released June 25, outlined numerous recommendations to address flaws the commission saw, ultimately leading the committee to call the death penalty "unnecessary."

The report comes nearly seven years after the Pennsylvania State Senate ordered a review of the death penalty in 2011. 4 years later, current Gov. Tom Wolf issued a moratorium on the death penalty until he saw the results of this commission.

The state itself has only seen 3 executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, with the last one occurring in 1999. All 3 executed inmates, who had "psychiatric problems," according to the commission's report, waived their appeals. In that same period, 6 inmates were exonerated.

As of July 2, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections lists 148 inmates sitting on death row.

The bipartisan committee that released the report represented a wide group of experts including scholars, members of the police force, social workers, public defenders and religious leaders.

The report also represented the many issues surrounding the death penalty. It is broken down into 17 lengthy and data-driven subsections:

Cost;

Bias and unfairness in capital trials;

Proportionality regarding the nature of the crime;

Impact on and services for family members;

Death row inmates with intellectual disabilities;

Death row inmates with mental illness;

Juries;

State appeals and post-conviction procedures;

Clemency;

"Penological intent such as public safety or deterrence";

Innocence;

Alternatives to capital punishment;

Legal counsel for defendants;

Secondary trauma to those involved in a death penalty case;

Length and conditions of confinement on death row;

Lethal injection;

Public opinion.

While the report itself is long, it's clear within the first 20 pages what conclusion the commission came to on the death penalty.

"Because the severely punitive alternative of life imprisonment without parole is available, the subcommittee on policy concludes that the death penalty is unnecessary, given the many objections to its use, the number of innocent persons wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, and the effectiveness of the alternative," the commission wrote.

Additionally, when studying whether capital punishment is in any way "unfair, arbitrary, or discriminatory," the report found evidence suggesting significant bias. The report discovered differences in sentencing based on the county where the crime occurred, the race of the victim, and the type of legal representation the defendant received.

The report is not legally binding, and also not the first state commission to offer up similar concerns. The Pennsylvania commission offered a variety of recommendations should the state choose to continue sentencing people to death.

One of the major suggestions was to create a "guilty but mentally ill" plea that would be determined during the pretrial stage, while also screening for intellectual disabilities. While it is unconstitutional to execute a person who is intellectually disabled or mentally ill, the report found that as many as 14 percent of inmates currently on death row would be considered intellectually disabled and a quarter of them having "an active mental disorder," with many more needing mental health treatment.

Another major recommendation was to create a state-funded capital defenders office that would represent defendants in all phases of capital cases, including trial, appellate and state post-conviction stages. This suggestion comes after finding, "as of May 2018, 150 Pennsylvania death-row inmates ... have had their convictions or sentences overturned on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. Death sentences in 93 of these cases were overturned because of counsel's failure to investigate and present mitigating evidence in the penalty phase."

"Pennsylvania is the only state that contributes nothing for indigent defense," Matthew Mangino, a member of the task force, wrote in The Legal Intelligencer. "All public defender services are funded locally with counties carrying the full burden of indigent defense costs."

The committee also recommended reducing the state's 18 instances of aggravating circumstances and demystifying the entire process surrounding the state's lethal injection protocol. The commission acknowledged that it couldn't be sure that the process was constitutional, as the state is allowed to conceal its lethal injection process.

In a press release, the national network Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty said it agreed with the many recommendations put forth in the report. The group applauded the report for addressing the "many areas of concern to growing numbers of conservatives, including its high cost, unfairness, and discriminatory nature."

"This report, like many before it in Pennsylvania and around the country, recognizes many of those problems [surrounding the death penalty]," Heather Beaudoin, national coordinator of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, said in the press release.

"Anything less than a full implementation of the report's recommendations represents a willingness to carry out executions regardless the system's significant flaws and the high possibility of error."

The release of the report comes at a pivotal time in Pennsylvania.

On the same day the report was released, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner faced criticism after his office chose to forgo the death penalty - instead offering a plea deal of life in prison for the two men who killed Philadelphia Police Sgt. Robert Wilson III in 2015.

In social media posts, the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 accused Krasner of being unsupportive of Wilson's family. Krasner responded to the criticism by saying the family was split on the issue.

Krasner's "never" stance on the death penalty was a large focus of his campaign to become Philadelphia's district attorney in 2017, although since being sworn in, he has walked back on some of that surety.

In an interview following his swearing-in, Krasner reiterated his personal belief against the death penalty but acknowledged that "you never want to say never" in regards to capital punishment sentencing.

Krasner said the decisions of the district attorney office's homicide sentencing committee, along with his decisions, "are going to be informed by the fact that the death penalty is never imposed in Pennsylvania."

The release also comes during Wolf's re-election campaign against pro-death-penalty Republican candidate Scott Wagner, who has spoken out against Wolf's moratorium and would lift it, should he be elected in November.

In response to the plea deal Krasner's office offered, Wagner wrote on his campaign website, "I also know that our Governor, Tom Wolf, has put a moratorium on the death penalty and opposes the death penalty for cop killers, school shooters, and drug dealers. You can be assured that his moratorium will end when I take office in January of 2019."

(source:Kristen Whitney Daniels is assistant director of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph and a former NCR Bertelsen intern----National Catholic Reporter)

NORTH CAROLINA:

Death penalty sought in slaying of pregnant Southern Lee High student

Moore County prosecutors said Tuesday that they plan to seek the death penalty against a Rockingham teen charged with killing his pregnant girlfriend. Brian Lovon Little, 18, is charged with 1st-degree murder and murder of an unborn child in the April 8 shooting death of 18-year-old Aiyonna Clarice Barrett.

Barrett, who family members said was pregnant with Little's child, was found shot to death inside a car on a dirt road near South Gaines Street in Southern Pines.

Barrett's mother, Ebony Gomez, said Little didn't want the baby, so he shot Barrett in the back of the head.

Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger said there are "multiple aggravating factors" in the case that support her pursuit of the death penalty.

Gomez said seeing Little in court Tuesday brought back the hurt she felt after her daughter's death.

"I had to see my grandchild for the first time in a casket. Nobody should have to deal with that," Gomez said. "You plan birthday parties for your grandchildren and your children. You don't plan for, 'What tombstone am I going to get?'"

Barrett previously lived in Rockingham but transferred to Southern Lee High School in Sanford to finish her senior year. Gomez said she went to the school's graduation ceremony and saw an empty chair where Barrett would have sat.

Gomez said she can't sleep and has lost 30 pounds since her daughter was killed. She wore a T-shirt with Barrett's picture on it in court Tuesday so she could look Little in the eye.

"When he saw me, it was almost like he was shocked," she said. "[There was] shame at the same time, and he put his head down - but he would still look."

Before his arrest, Gomez said, Little went to her home and tried to comfort her.

"I want you to have to be able to look me in my face again," she said, describing her thoughts at seeing Little. "I want you to see the pain and the hurt that you have caused me, not just me, but family period."

While Gomez supports the decision to seek the death penalty, she said she doesn't think executing Little will bring her closure.

"As the Bible says, an eye for an eye, but it will never replace my baby," she said.

Little remains in the Moore County jail without bond.

The last time a Moore County jury sent a man to death row was 2007. Mario Phillips was convicted of murder in a quadruple homicide near Carthage in December 2003. Four people were stabbed and shot during a robbery, and a teenager who survived identified Phillips as the gunman.

(source: WRAL news)

LOUISIANA:

Are the gas chamber, electric chair, gallows in Louisiana's future?

Are Louisiana lawmakers ready to bring back the gas chamber, hanging, firing squad or electrocution as options for carrying out the state's death penalty?

Attorney General Jeff Landry says he will push for those changes if Louisiana can't figure out how to get its lethal injection protocols back on track. Executions in the state are on hold and will be for at least another year as part of a legal battle and efforts to find a drug manufacturer or pharmacy that will sell them the products needed to carry out executions. Louisiana hasn't put a prisoner to death since 2010 when Gerald Bordelon waived all his rights to appeal.

Landry has accused Gov. John Bel Edwards of dragging his feet on the speed of executions, noting that other states have managed to put bodies on the gurneys, noting that Texas has carried out 7 executions in the first 6 months of this year and that Arkansas had managed 2 in just 1 day.

While avoiding a direct statement on where he stands on the death penalty, Edwards has denied being the reason for the delays and challenged Landry on why the attorney general had not pushed changes to the state law on his own. That's when Landry released his draft of death penalty legislation.

Attorney General Jeff Landry is not happy with the pace of executions in the state.

Landry is also pushing for changes that would allow the pharmacy at Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola, to mix its own execution cocktail and keep the formula secret to avoid lawsuits from the pharmaceutical companies that are now withholding their drugs for use in executions.

The primary reason for execution delays across the country is being caused by drug manufacturers who don't want their products associated with putting people to death.

The maker of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl joined a bid Monday (July 30) to block the use of its product in what would be the 1st execution in Nevada in more than 12 years.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA overcame objections from the state to intervene in New Jersey-based Alvogen's lawsuit seeking to stop the use of its sedative midazolam in the execution of twice-convicted killer Scott Raymond Dozier. After sedation, Nevada plans to use fentanyl to put Dozier to death.

The move did not sit well with Nevada's solicitor general's office, which is as eager as Landry to get the line moving on death row.

"It's ironic that the maker of fentanyl, which is at the center of the nation's opioid crisis and is responsible for illegal overdoses every day is going to ... claim reputational injury from being associated with a lawful execution," Deputy Nevada state Solicitor General Jordan T. Smith said in a filing against the intervention.

But the fact that the maker of fentanyl finds a connection to state executions to be distasteful says a lot about where public opinion stands on the death penalty.

Recent polls have put support for the death penalty at about 49 % nationally (with 42 % opposed) marking the 1st time in 45 years that support for capital punishment had polled below 50 %. It does, however, maintain support in Louisiana. A survey this year by LSU's Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs found that 58 % of Louisiana residents back capital punishment, while only 34 % oppose.

Still, you have to wonder how many legislators will relish the idea of standing up for the return of gas chamber, firings squads, the gallows and "Old Sparky" as symbols of the state's ultimate criminal justice. The other option is executing inmates in the name of the people of the Great State of Louisiana, but not allowing those people to know exactly how it is being done or what is being used. Not a great look for democracy.

(source: Tim Morris is an opinions columnist at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

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When killers disregard innocents, nobody is safe

The 2 suspects who fired into a crowd of people in the 3400 block of South Claiborne Avenue Saturday evening were apparently gunning for a single man. The owner of Chicken and Watermelon, a restaurant in that block, says surveillance footage shows 2 men chasing another man who runs into a crowd of people on the block. He ran into the crowd, we can assume, for cover. He ran into the crowd because nobody with a conscience fires into a crowd when they're after 1 man. Nobody with a conscience fires into a crowd of strangers when those strangers haven't done anything to them.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said the 2 gunmen - 1 armed with a rifle, the other with a handgun - fired "indiscriminately." They hit 10 people total and murdered 3, including the man they'd been chasing.

The shooting was reported in the 3400 block of South Claiborne Avenue.

Jeremiah Lee, 28, believed to be the intended target of the attack, died after his attackers stood over his prone body and kept firing shots at him, police said. A source with knowledge of the case told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune that Lee was affiliated with the Central City gang 3NG (Third and Galvez) and was known by the nickname "Zippa."

Also killed were 27-year-old Taiesha Watkins, a Houston woman who was visiting New Orleans to cheer up a friend whose mother had just died, and 38-year-old cement contractor Kurshaw Jackson. Watkins is survived by a 5-year-old daughter, Jackson by a 17-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.

Taiesha Watkins, 27, of Houston, was mother to a 5-year-old daughter and had 2 younger siblings.

Unfortunately, we've seen this kind of crime in New Orleans before. We've seen it multiple times.

On Memorial Day weekend 2012, gunmen targeting drug dealer Burnell Allen, fired on a 10-year-old's birthday party in Central City, killing Allen's 5-year-old daughter, Briana. That birthday party was for Ka'Nard Allen, who was grazed in the face during that attack. In 2013, Ka'Nard Allen was shot again, this time when 2 brothers stood on opposite sides of the street and fired onto a Mother's Day parade moving through the 7th Ward. In that attack, 19 people were injured, and 4 years later, local writer Deb Cotton, a chronicler of the city's 2nd-line culture, succumbed to the gunshot wounds she suffered.

Kurshaw Jackson, 38, was 1 of 3 people killed in Saturday's shooting on South Claiborne.

In November 2013, DeShawn Butler died in a Honda Sedan on the Crescent City Connection while trying to shield his 7-month-old son DeShawn Kinard, from gunfire, the baby's mother said. Father and son both died in that attack. Police say Butler was a member of the Fischer Fools gang and his attackers were affiliated with the Hot Block Gang.

In August 2014, a drive-by shooting in the Lower 9th Ward killed a 33-year-old man, a 16-year-old girl, left a 4-year-old child blind and a 2-year-old child with brain damage. The 32-year-old mother of the little children was struck in the abdomen. Another 37-year-old woman was injured. A 13-year-old girl was hit in the leg.

Police said the intended target was a 33-year-old Terrence McBride with a previous conviction for heroin possession and pending drug and weapons charges.

In December 2015, 12 days before doctors expected him to be born, an unborn baby was killed when gunman fired on a car in New Orleans East where his mother and father were sitting.

It was around that time that I heard a local pastor suggest that gunmen were making it a point not to avoid collateral damage, that they were sending a clear and chilling message that their enemies aren't safe anywhere: not in a crowd of strangers outside a restaurant or daiquiri shop, not at a child's birthday party, not in a crowd of parade-goers celebrating Mother's Day, not in a car with an occupied baby seat, not in a car with a woman heavy with child.

In the 1st season of Marvel Comics' Netflix series "Luke Cage," a man who labeled his Harlem barbershop "Switzerland" to send the message that there would be no fighting there, still ends up dying when gunmen track down a person hiding at the shop and attack with assault weapons. That attack enrages even the season's chief villain, a man so vicious he's called Cottonmouth. "Believe it or not," Cottonmouth fumes to another bad guy after the barber's murder, "there's supposed to be rules to this sh--."

The scariest part about violence in New Orleans is not just the frequency of the gunfire - although that's scary enough. The scariest part is what appears to be the complete and utter absence of rules.

Babies, pregnant women, pastel-colored birthday balloons, large crowds of revelers. Nothing seems to signal to potential murderers that they should retreat and catch their intended targets when they're more isolated.

Of course, what we really want is a city where people aren't tracked down and murdered at all. But let's start with a city that has a code of the streets that makes killing innocents an outrage and a code of the streets that makes turning in the killers of innocents mandatory.

When killers with no restraint roam the streets, nobody's safe.

(source: Jarvis DeBerry is deputy opinions editor for NOLA.COM | The Times-Picayune)

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Louisiana Attorney General Wants State to Hurry Up on Executions - Even If That Means Using 'Hanging, Firing Squad, or Electrocution'

The death penalty is surfacing as a key issue in Louisiana's upcoming gubernatorial election, in 2019. With execution drugs unavailable, the state's top prosecutor is proposing the use of new drugs, nitrogen-induced suffocation, or "hanging, firing squad, or electrocution," if necessary.

Lousiana has not executed anyone since 2010 when Gerald Bordelon was killed by lethal injection after being convicted of the murder of his 12-year old stepdaughter. Since then, the state has amassed over 70 inmates awaiting execution on death row.

The state's lack of access to necessary drugs required for lethal injection remains the largest obstacle to carrying these executions out.

In Lousiana, lethal injection remains the only legal form of execution available. But obtaining execution drugs has become difficult, especially after the drug company Pfizer joined with European drug manufacturers to ban their product from being used for executions.

In 2016, Louisiana requested and was approved for an 18-month extension on the execution of Christopher Sepulvado - convicted for fatally scalding and beating his stepson in 1992 - due to not having the necessary execution drugs.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick approved a year-long extension of execution delays after a request was filed by the state.

Defending his administration's request , Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said in a tweet that Louisiana was limited by a "legitimate problem with accessing drug protocol."

Attorney General Jeff LandryWikimedia CommonsBut Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) is not convinced that the problem is legitimate, nor that a solution is really out of reach for Edwards. In a late July letter to the governor, Landry wrote: "If you truly respect the criminal justice system, the rule of law, and the rights of victims-there are a number of initial steps that can be taken".

Landry went on to recommend policy changes that would allow the usage of the drug midazolam, which has survived court challenges despite constant malfunctions. Additionally, he recommended that the state begin using the compounding capabilities of Angola, the prison facility where executions occur, to provide drugs while cooperating with the Department of Corrections "to avoid any pitfalls that may arise or to find other compounding pharmacies".

In 2014, Lousiana Department of Corrections contacted a compounding pharmacy but there remains uncertainty if any products were purchased.

Included with Landry's letter was draft legislation to expand the state's options for execution to include nitrogen hypoxia, an execution form that supposedly renders an inmate unconscious within moments, and eventually suffocates them. He goes on further to say that if that option is unavailable, then the method shall be by "hanging, firing squad, or electrocution, in the discretion of the Secretary of the Department of Corrections."

In an interview with Channel 33 in Baton Rouge, the governor expressed opposition to executions beyond lethal injections. "Hangings and firing squads? No," said Edwards. "I'm not inclined to go back to methods that have been discarded because popular sentiment turned against them, some methods deemed to be barbaric."

A potential candidate for governor in 2019, many speculate that Landry will use this issue to score points with the voters who desire a "tough on crime" candidate. This is one of many issues that Landry and Edwards disagree on and continue to battle with one another over.

Some, like New Orleans Advocate writer James Gill, find Landry's attempt to score political points with such an issue to be disrespectful and poor taste. "Landry wants to bring back hanging, that relic of America's days as a British colony," wrote Gill in his July 28 column.

"With polls showing a majority of voters in favor of capital punishment, Landry evidently thinks being gung-ho for carrying out death sentences will aid his gubernatorial aspirations" and "loses no opportunity to suggest Gov. John Bel Edwards is a wishy-washy liberal" on this issue, Gill continued.

Landry's actions might curry favor with the 58 percent of the Louisiana electorate that favors the death penalty. In May, a bill that would have abolished the death penalty in Louisiana failed to pass the Louisiana House of Representatives and did not make it beyond committee in the Louisiana Senate.

(source: reason.com)

OHIO:

Kasich done with stopping executions

Gov. John Kasich has finished dealing with executions for the remainder of his time in office after a modern-era record of death-penalty commutations.

The Republican governor spared 7 men from execution during his 2 terms in office, including commutations on March 26 and July 20. Kasich allowed 15 executions to proceed, including the July 18 execution of Robert Van Hook for strangling, stabbing and dismembering a man he met in a Cincinnati bar more than 30 years ago.

Not since Democrat Mike DiSalle spared 6 death row inmates in the early 1960s has an Ohio governor spared so many killers during periods when the state had an active death chamber. DiSalle allowed 6 executions to proceed.

Democratic Gov. Richard Celeste commuted 8 death sentences just days before leaving office in 1991, but none of those inmates' executions was imminent.

Kasich "appreciates the gravity of this authority and therefore carefully considers these cases to make decisions that further justice," said spokesman Jon Keeling.

Kasich's immediate predecessor, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, commuted 5 death sentences and allowed 17 executions during his 4-year term.

Ohio resumed executions in 1999 under Gov. Bob Taft after a 36-year gap. Taft, a Republican, allowed 20 executions to proceed and spared just 1 inmate based on concerns raised by DNA evidence not available at the time of trial.

Nationwide, governors have spared 288 death row inmates since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of capital punishment in 1976, with a handful spared each year over the past decade. That doesn't include mass clemencies in states - such as New Jersey in 2007- where the death penalty was abolished and entire death rows were emptied.

(source: Associated Press)

TENNESSEE----impending execution

Panel Focuses on Death Penalty as New Tennessee Execution Looms

A panel of experts who have had front-row seats to state-sanctioned executions will discuss the death penalty here Thursday as the state prepares to carry out its 1st execution since 2009.

Last week, a judge ruled the state's lethal injection protocol does not violate the Tennessee Constitution nor the United States Constitution. State officials adopted the new, 3-drug injection in January to replace another drug, which became hard to get as some drug makers refused sell it to anyone hoping to use it for executions.

The new injection - made from midazolam, vecuronium bromide, and potassium chloride - has never been used in Tennessee. Attorneys for 33 death-row inmates have said using it would leave inmates aware and sensate during the execution and its effect is like "being burned alive from the inside."

However, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle of the Davidson County Chancery Court ruled last week that, while using the drugs may cause pain, it does not amount to torture.

State officials are planning to kill Billy Ray Irrick on August 9th. Irrick got the death penalty for the 1986 rape and murder of a seven-year-old Knox County girl. Attorneys argue he has a mental illness that has never been fully explored in court.

Irrick's attorneys are now working to get a stay on his execution until they can get an appeal on the use of the state's new injection.

A Shelby County man, Sedrick Clayton, is scheduled for execution on November 28th. He was convicted and sentenced to death here in 2014 for murdering the mother of his child and her parents.

The state's last execution was in December 2009. Cecil Johnson was killed at Nashville's Riverbend Maximum Security Institution for the murder of three, in a store in 1980.

This is the stage for Thursday's panel discussion hosted by Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (TADP). The panel will focus on how executions impact corrections staff.

The panel includes Frank Thompson, former superintendent of Oregon State Penitentiary, who oversaw the state's only executions in the modern death penalty era, and retired Chaplain Jerry Welborn, who served as Tennessee's death row chaplain from 1997-2014.

When: Thursday, August 2, 2018, from 6:00-7:15 p.m.

Where: Evergreen Presbyterian Church, 1567 Overton Park Ave., Memphis, 38112

(source: memphisflyer.com)

ARKANSAS:

Prosecutor to seek death penalty against man charged with grandparents' murders

The state of Arkansas will seek the death penalty for the man charged with killing his grandparents.

Nicholaus David Patterson, 25, of Pocahontas appeared in Randolph County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce formally charged Patterson with 2 counts of capital murder.

Boyce said the state would seek the death penalty in this murder case.

Patterson is accused of killing his grandparents, Ricky and Rita Bozwell, on July 10 at their home in Pocahontas.

3 days later, Patterson's mother reported her parents missing to local police. On July 14, according to Boyce, their bodies were discovered in their home on Sue Lane near Pocahontas.

"The bodies were found in a state of advanced decomposition and were sent to the State Crime Lab for an autopsy," a news release from Boyce's office said. "The younger Patterson was questioned regarding his knowledge of the murders and he confessed to the killings on that same day."

Patterson's attorney, Chris Nebben, entered a plea of not guilty on Patterson's behalf during a court appearance on Tuesday.

Judge Harold S. Erwin set Patterson's trial for November 5, 2019.

Patterson remains in the Randolph County Detention Center and his being held without bond.

(source: KAIT news)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

Moore asks supporters not be at his execution----"He doesn't want supporters to get the other side riled up and screaming"

It's been 39 years since the murder of 2 Omaha cab drivers, Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland.

A judge sentenced their killer, Carey Dean Moore to die a year later.

He has been on death row ever since.

On Aug. 14, the state plans to carry out that sentence but even now, the fight to spare his life is far from over.

Death penalty opponents have stepped up their weekly vigils in front of the governor's mansion to every weekday.

"No matter what the outcome is, we need to be here saying this is not right," said Jean Eden, a longtime death penalty opponent.

One place she and other protesters will not be is at the State Penitentiary during the time of Moore is scheduled to be executed at 10 a.m.

"Mr. Moore has asked supporters of his cause not to show up because he's been bullied enough to allowing himself to die and he doesn't want supporters to get the other side riled up and screaming at him and he doesn't want to that to be the last thing he hears," Fran Kaye said.

If the execution is carried out, death penalty opponents will hold a rally at the State Capitol later that evening.

Even though Moore quit fighting his execution, Omaha State Sen. Ernie Chambers has not.

Last week, he sent a letter to Pfizer pharmaceutical executives calling on them to do more than ask Nebraska's Department of Corrections to return any of their product that would be used in lethal injection but he wants the company to take legal action.

He wrote, "Does Pfizer desire to protect its integrity, good name and public image?"

A court blocked an execution in Nevada after another pharmaceutical company filed suit to stop one of its drugs from being used in lethal injection.

On Tuesday, a Pfizer spokesperson told KETV Newswatch 7 in a statement:

"Our records do not show any sales of any restricted products to the Nebraska Department of Corrections. We are again asking the Nebraska DOC to return any Pfizer restricted products."

Nebraska officials maintain they acquired the execution drugs legally, but will not say where they got them or how they came up with the four drug protocol. That combination of drugs has never been used before in a lethal injection execution.

"It's one more level of obscenity on an already obscene process," Kaye said.

Laura Strimple, a Nebraska Dept. of Corrections spokesperson said, in a statement: "Carey Dean Moore will be transported to NSP (State Penitentiary) at an appropriate time, prior to the scheduled execution. Plans are still being made to finalize public and media access to the grounds/facilities."

Strimple said the state will not disclose the source of the substances to be used in the execution.

(source: KETV news)

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Pfizer: No records of drug sales to Nebraska for executions

A spokesman for Pfizer says the pharmaceutical manufacturer has no records showing that it sold any potential lethal injection drugs to Nebraska's corrections department.

Pfizer spokesman Steven Danehy made the comments Monday to the Lincoln Journal Star after state Sen. Ernie Chambers challenged the company to sue the state in hopes of blocking the scheduled Aug. 14 execution of inmate Carey Dean Moore.

Pfizer has asked Nebraska's corrections department to return any "restricted products" that could be used in an execution and renewed its request just in case the state has obtained them.

Corrections officials have repeatedly refused to release records that might identify its supplier.

Another drug company, Alvogen, filed a legal objection in Nevada this month to keep one of its drugs from being used in an execution.

(source: WOWT news)

NEVADA:

A 2nd Manufacturer Just Told Nevada Not to Use its Drugs for Executions----The state's deputy solicitor general called the move "ironic."

Another pharmaceutical company doesn't want Nevada to use its drug to execute Scott Dozier. On Monday, a district judge approved a motion filed by Hikma, the manufacturer of the powerful opioid fentanyl, to join the lawsuit filed by Alvogen, the maker of the controversial sedative midazolam. Midazolam has been blamed for several botched executions in the past and was going to be part of a 3-drug combination used to execute Dozier. His scheduled execution in July was put on hold after Alvogen filed suit.

Hikma is arguing that the company specifically told Nevada in 2016 that its drugs could not be used for an execution. Alvogen made similar claims in its lawsuit, accusing the state of secretly obtaining the drug despite the company's warnings that it does not approve of the use of its drugs for lethal injections. The 3rd component of Nevada's 3-drug protocol is a muscle paralyzer that medical professionals said could mask the inmate's pain during an execution. [Alvogen] filed this lawsuit to salvage its image and shift the blame to the State for Alvogen's failure to impose the controls that it was touting to anti-death penalty advocates."

Dozier has been on death row since 2007 for the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller. Beginning in 2016, he gave up any effort to appeal his sentence, and maintained that he wanted to be put to death. Just hours before Dozier was set to die on July 11, a district judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from using the midazolam. In response, Nevada filed a petition with the Nevada Supreme Court, asking that the decision that halted the execution be thrown out and accusing Alvogen of mounting a public relations campaign. "[Alvogen] filed this lawsuit to salvage its image and shift the blame to the State for Alvogen's failure to impose the controls that it was touting to anti-death penalty advocates," the petition says. The state Supreme Court is now considering the petition.

Nevada now has to contend with yet another manufacturer and in response leveled similarly harsh criticism for Hikma, implying that it was attempting to distract attention from a far bigger problem. The deputy solicitor general called it "ironic that the maker of fentanyl, which is at the center of the nation's opioid crisis and is responsible for illegal overdoses every day is going to...claim reputational injury from being associated with a lawful execution."

But some states still plan to use these drugs. Carey Moore, who is set to die in Nebraska on August 14, will likely now be the 1st person executed with the powerful painkiller. The state intends to use the opioid in a 4-drug protocol to execute the inmate, who shot and killed Maynard Helgeland and Reuel Van Ness 5 days apart in 1979. Nebraska has come under fire for refusing to disclose where its lethal injection drugs came from despite court orders to do so.

Assuming that the drugs were manufactured by Pfizer, Independent Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers, a long time anti-death penalty advocate, urged the company to follow in Alvogen's footsteps and sue the state in order to have the drugs returned and the execution halted. But the company said it had no records of Nebraska obtaining restricted drugs and was not going to file a lawsuit. "So where did the governor get his drugs?" Chambers wrote on Facebook after Pfizer declined to sue the state. "He's not saying, and he's refusing to obey the courts who have ordered him to share the information."

(source: motherjones.com)

USA:

Future of lethal injection in doubt as critics, drug makers rebel against it

Lethal injection, which became the death penalty method of choice after the electric chair was deemed too cruel, is now falling out of favor.

Drug companies are rebelling against it. States are fighting to keep it. And there is a new wave of controversy - and a slew of lawsuits - alleging that lethal injections are almost as inhumane as firing squads.

Now the future of legal injection is uncertain, and states find themselves looking for alternatives.

There are 31 states that currently allow the death penalty, with lethal injection being the primary method to carry out the practice. In recent years, many of those states have faced drug shortages due to manufacturers cutting off the supply due to objections over how their drugs are used.

Robert Dunham, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center says he's not surprised that drug supplies are being cut off.

"In every state that's attempting to carry out executions, prisoners have been challenging the method of execution. And those challenges have either been to the entire state's protocol where they are attacking the use of particular drugs, or it's been what's called an as-applied challenge when people who have particular medical conditions say that the use of any kind of lethal injection is inappropriate for them because of the way they're likely to respond."

Several states including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas have recently faced court challenges or inquires over lethal injection protocols, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. A judge in Tennessee recently granted the state permission to begin using a new cocktail of drugs to carry out executions.

Some states have even gone further to enact secrecy laws to protect the source of acquired drugs.

"All of the states that have been carrying out executions have some form of secrecy..." Dunham said. "The states initially said that this is necessary for them to obtain the drugs because drug manufacturers were being harassed, they claimed, by anti-death penalty advocates. Those allegations have all turned out to be false. But the states have continued to attempt to expand secrecy and the real reason is because the drug manufacturers themselves are opposed to the use of their medicines in executions."

Drug manufactures such as Pfizer, Athenex, Akorn, Roche, Janssen and others have put out statements opposing the use of their products in executions. In 2016, Pfizer started imposing controls over its medicines to make sure they would not be used for lethal injection.

Drugs like Midazolam and Pentobarbital have been affected by companies unwilling to sell their products to states. Midazolam was at the center of controversy after a botched attempted execution of an Oklahoma inmate in 2014. The drug was also part of an intense execution schedule and method carried out by the state of Arkansas last year.

Dunham also discussed a February 2017 attempted execution involving an Alabama inmate where the man was stuck about 12 times in order to find a usable vein. The prisoner's attorney said the man's bladder may have been punctured during the attempt.

In a more recent case, the United States Supreme Court stayed the execution of Missouri death row inmate Russell Bucklew. Bucklew has cavernous hemangioma, which includes symptoms such as weak blood vessels and blood-filled tumors in the throat and nose.

One doctor and professor of medicine says the act of lethal injection is often confused for a medical procedure.

"These are the sorts of medications that doctors use and how these medications are used for the purposes of execution, that's not really a doctor's job," said Dr. Joel Zivot, an associate professor of anesthesiology and surgery at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. "That's the state taking these sorts of medications and repurposing them as poison. In my hand, these are used to treat diseases and in the state's hand the same compounds are now used to kill."

Zivot strongly stated that he's not an advocate or opponent of the death penalty itself but rather a campaigner for the elimination of the field of medicine from the entire process of executing criminals. He noted how some instances of the practice could violate the Eight Amendment. Zivot is not alone, the American Board of Anesthesiology and the American Medical Association forbid members from participating in executions.

Some states have sought different executions methods if lethal injection drugs are not available. Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi all have laws that allow the use of death by nitrogen hypoxia, or gas chamber. Tennessee allows the use of the electric chair while Utah has passed a law allowing death by firing squad if the state is unable to obtain the proper drugs. New Hampshire allows inmates to be executed by hanging if it becomes impractical to carry out a death sentence by injection.

Criminal defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant said states may have to go as far as producing their own drugs to carry out the death penalty. Merchant went even further to say that death by lethal injection could come to a stop.

"I do think this issue could go to the Supreme Court, ultimately, but it's a very interesting issue that the courts are probably not going to be able to resolve because what we've got is independent drug manufacturers who are refusing to make the drugs unless the state says they're not going to use them for executions," Merchant said. "Now we've got drug companies that say we don't believe in the death penalty and they can't be forced to produce drugs that are going to be used in executions. So they're really exercising their right to free speech and their belief system and that may put an end to this type of execution."

Merchant said death penalty procedures like the electric chair and hanging became obsolete with societal pressures.

"I think it's more than just the individual inmate's rights. I think it's us as a society because the Supreme Court said that we can have the death penalty but it has to be judged by an evolving standard of decency," she said. "Yes, we want finality in these sentences but is there a way to do that without violating the Eighth Amendment and without being cruel and unusual and we just haven't been able to find a method that society is OK with."

(source: Willie Inman, Fox News)

IRAN:

IHR Provides Evidence Against Iranian Cyber Police's Denial of Death Sentence to a Prisoner for his Cyber Activities

The chief of Isfahan Cyber Police denied Mohammad Hossein Maleki's death sentence, which was reported previously by Iran Human Rights. The Police Chief even denied Mr. Maleki's existence. In this regard, IHR publishes the documents related to this prisoner and his death sentence.

On Friday, July 13, Iran Human Rights reported the death sentence of Mohammad Hossein Maleki, the manager of Asre-Javan website and its Telegram channel, on the charge of "corruption on earth".

Later, on Wednesday, July 18, Colonel Mustafa Mortazavi, the chief of Isfahan Cyber Police, told Mashregh News that no death sentence had been issued for that person and that he didn't even exist.

The report by Mashregh News states, "It was just a rumor because death sentenced is not issued for developing illegal websites. This person doesn't exist."

Nonetheless, Mohammad Hossein Maleki, 47, from Shahin Shahr in Isfahan, was arrested by the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence on March 1, 2017 and is kept at the general ward of Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan.

Mohammad Hossein Maleki was sentenced to death for "corruption on earth through organized activities regarding the sale of CC-cam and several satellite accounts" at Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Isfahan.

Moreover, Alireza Yazdani, the prisoner's lawyer, told Iran Human Rights, "Mohammad Hossein Maleki was held in a solitary confinement without the right to meet his family and lawyer during the first 3 months of his arrest when he was being interrogated."

IHR publishes the following documents to prove Maleki's existence and his death sentence.

A part of Maleki's verdict mentions, "Considering the contents of the case including the first report of the statements of the defendant during the investigation and developing the website and different channels with financial motives and claiming that the contents of the channels were not obscene but vulgar and also considering the sale of CCcam with vulgar content to 850 people which proves his extensive activity and also due to his connection with people abroad...he is subject to Article 286 of the Islamic Penal Code and, therefore, the court sentences him to death penalty."

(source: Iran Human Rights)

GHANA:

Court sentences 2 cousins to death

2 cousins, Kwame Dogyi and Obio Akwasi have been sentenced to death by hanging by a Tamale High Court for murdering a pastor in cold blood last year. The court presided over by Justice Edward Apenkwah, sentenced the 2 former students of the Tamale Technical University, after a unanimous verdict by a jury.

They were charged with conspiracy to commit crime and murder.

The Daily Graphic reports that the court was earlier informed that Akwasi and Dogyi murdered the 64-year old Pastor Ebenezer Ocran at his residence in cold blood at Kumbuyili, near Tamale on November 9, 2017.

They took away his Toyota Highlander vehicle, which Dogyi gave to a sprayer for rebranding.

They were therefore arrested upon tip off and committed to stand trial.

The sentencing of the 2 to death has therefore invoked the international treaty Ghana has signed to expunge capital punishment, but until the President orders their execution, they would be kept in maximum security prison.

(source: journalducameroun.com)

KENYA:

Report gives hope to death row inmates, those serving life terms

Prisoners on death row and those serving life sentences could be handed a lifeline if recommendations by a task force are implemented.

More than 7,700 prisoners have been sentenced to die or are serving life sentences.

The Task Force on Review of the Mandatory Nature of the Death Penalty has recommended changes to the Penal Code, the Prisons Act and the Kenya Defence Forces Act.

This could lead to reviewing of 838 death sentences, 6,938 life sentences and the sentences of 2,747 inmates, whose death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment in 2016.

The Supreme Court in December last year declared unconstitutional Section 204 of the Penal Code - that mandated capital punishment for anyone convicted of murder, robbery with violence and attempted robbery with violence.

In a preliminary report released yesterday, the task force proposes all prisoners sentenced to life apply for rehearing of their sentences.

The team was appointed in January to review the legislative framework on the death penalty and recommend a guide to death sentencing. It was appointed by then Attorney General Githu Muigai.

The sentence rehearing will only apply to the term but will not affect the guilty verdict handed down by the initial judge or magistrate.

"The implication of this [Supreme Court's] decision on the retroactive nature of the case is that all death sentences passed (including those commuted) are essentially a nullity based solely on the unconstitutionality of the sentence and all capital offenders should therefore undergo sentence rehearing," Joseph Weke, a task force member, said. He chairs the subcommittee on sentencing rehearing.

The team proposes an amendment to the Penal Code to give powers to the relevant Cabinet secretary to develop resentencing regulations. A subcommittee should be created within the National Council of the Administration of Justice to monitor and facilitate the resentencing process.

Task force chairperson Maryann Kimani said, however, the Supreme Court did not scrap the death penalty, but only outlawed its mandatory nature. "The judge or magistrate can give death sentences depending on the circumstances and upon consideration of the factors cited by the Supreme Court," she said during a media briefing at the Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi yesterday.

The team argued this applied to Miss Lang'ata Prison 2016 beauty pageant winner Ruth Kamande who was sentenced to death on July 19 for killing her boyfriend.

Regarding life imprisonment, the task force recommends the introduction of parole in suitable cases.

It wants a complete review of the statutory framework and revisions to the Power of Mercy Advisory Committee Act, 2011, to include the function of parole. Parole will depend on on several factors including the type of offence, risk of the prisoner to the community and his or her personal circumstances.

(source: thestar-co.ke)

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

Let's abolish death penalty and join progressive world

The task force reviewing the death penalty has recommended amendment to the law to abolish it. If adopted, 838 prisoners on death row will have their sentences commuted to life sentences, among other changes.

The recommendations by the Task Force on the Review of the Mandatory Nature of the Death Penalty will be celebrated by many abolitionists locally, who classify execution as cruel and inhumane punishment.

Moreover, the Kenya Constitution prohibits inhumane treatment and torture, which execution of human beings is.

It will be celebrated by Christians who believe life is a precious gift from God, who alone can take it away. Any willful execution is abhorrent and vengeful.

Kenya is among a minority of 58 countries that still have the death penalty in their lawbooks, despite execution not having been carried out for long. According to Amnesty International, 23 countries executed at least 993 convicts in 2017, a drop of 1,032 in 2016, and 1,634 in 2015.

While it is believed that the existence of the death sentence is a deterrent to egregious crimes - such as robbery with violence, rape, murder and treason - there is no evidence in trends to support the position.

Rather, there is evidence that human beings are often contrite and remorseful for their crimes after prolonged jail terms and can reform given another chance.

It is now up to Parliament to decide.

(source: Editor, The Star)

EGYPT:

Egypt Responds to Trump's Lifting of Military Aid Ban by Sentencing 75 Anti-Coup Protesters to Death

Egypt on Saturday sentenced 75 people to death for taking part in a 2013 sit-in protest against the military ouster of democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi - a court decision that came days after the United States sent "the wrong message to one of the most abusive governments in Egypt's recent history" by restoring $195 million in military aid to the nation.

The dozens sentenced in Saturday's ruling are among 739 defendants, including members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood and members of the press, the government is targeting over their participating in the protest. The day became known as the al-Rabaa Massacre, as security forces under the command of now-President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi killed hundreds of people in a matter of hours.

The lifting of the blocked military aid was announced last week, with the Trump administration commending purported "steps Egypt has taken over the last year in response to specific U.S. concerns." The administration had withheld aid last year, citing "serious concerns regarding human rights and governance in Egypt."

Rather than making any gains, however, Amr Magdi, Middle East and North Africa researcher with Human Rights Watch, argues that the county is actually in the midst of "intensifying crackdown on human rights by the Egyptian authorities." As such, "The decision to release the funds despite a significant deterioration in the rights situation in Egypt is both baffling and troubling."

One Egyptian American who was held as a political prisoner there for three years called the release of aid a "step back for human rights."

Speaking to Middle East Eye, Aya Hijazi said, "This gives the military a green light to continue the reign of suppression it is embarking on."

Still, the development was not seen as suprising - Egypt is the 2nd biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel. Moreover, President Donald Trump has offered praise for Sisi on multiple occasions, including calling him "a fantastic guy" who's done "a fantastic job."

Yet Trump is merely continuing "U.S. tradition by coddling Egypt's strongman," Washington Post reporter Ishaan Tharoor argues Monday.

Tharoor points to a recent article in the New York Times by David D. Kirkpatrick, which argues that the Obama administration in fact paved the way for Trump's embrace of dictators like Sisi, and notes that "some of the coup's most vocal American advocates went on to top roles in the Trump administration, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump's first national security adviser."

He continued:

Mr. Obama and his closest advisers ... hoped to shift established American policy and forge a new relationship with the Arab world in order to undermine the appeals of anti-Western extremism. Even in the final days before the takeover, Mr. Obama was urging respect for Egypt's free elections. In an 11th--hour phone call he implored Mr. Morsi to make "bold gestures" to hold onto his office.

Most of his government, though, took the other side, reflecting longstanding worries about the intrinsic danger of political Islam and about the obstacles to Egyptian democracy.

In a White House meeting the day after Mr. Morsi's ouster - 2 days after that last phone call - Mr. Obama yielded to those views when he accepted the military takeover. In doing so, he had taken a first step toward the policies that have become the overriding principles of the Trump administration.

Other observers say the way was paved far before Obama took office.

"The U.S. has looked forward to working with every single Egyptian regime to date," Sherif Gaber, member of the Mosireen Independent Media Collective in Cairo, previously told Common Dreams. "It's no secret that America's greatest interest for Egypt is a stable partner to maintain status quo relations favoring U.S. policy in the region, regardless of whether that was Mubarak, Morsi, or now Sisi."

(source: commondreams.org)

MALAYSIA:

DPM: Malaysia needs to 'look into capital punishment' before requesting to extradite Sirul

Malaysia needs to look into its capital punishment laws, before making an application to extradite, Sirul Azhar Umar who is being detained in Australia.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said this to reporters at the parliament lobby, here, today.

She said the government has not "specifically discussed about Sirul's case at this moment".

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop who is on a working visit here, said today that there has been no application for extradition of convicted killer and former policeman Sirul Azhar from Malaysia.

Bishop reiterated that before Australia received any application from the Malaysian government, it was inappropriate for her to speculate.

Bishop further said further discussion needed to be held on Malaysia's intention to consider the abolishment of the death penalty.

"This is a position that Australia has held for some time... we oppose the death penalty both at home and abroad, in fact we advocate strongly for the abolishment of the death penalty.

"We are on the United Nations' human rights council now and the abolishment of death penalty is one of the pillars of their advocacy.

"Sirul is currently being held at the Australia Immigration Detention. As the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said recently, Malaysia has not made any extradition application.

"It would be inappropriate for me to speculate until such time as Malaysia makes an application for extradition under existing treaty between the 2 countries," she said during a press conference after paying Wan Azizah a courtesy visit at the Parliament building this morning.

(source: New Straits Times)

CHINA:

Father gets death for killing doctor after newborn daughter dies

A father from Shandong province whose newborn daughter died in a hospital has been sentenced to death for killing the doctor who treated her.

Chen Jianli, 30, was convicted of the intentional homicide of pediatrician Li Baohua at Laiwu Intermediate People's Court.

"He stabbed the doctor to vent his anger in a public place and used cruel means to kill innocent medical personnel, resulting in great harm to people's personal safety and a negative social impact. We have given him the death penalty," the court said in a statement on Sunday.

The killer has also been deprived of his political rights, it added.

Chen's daughter was born in a hospital in Laiwu in February 2016. The baby developed a fever the next day and was transferred to the pediatric ward for treatment, but she died, the court said.

Prosecutors said the father blamed Li and the hospital for the death, and he sought compensation from both on numerous occasions. When he failed, he decided to get revenge, the court said.

One morning in October 2016, Chen rode a motorcycle to the hospital. On the way he stopped to buy a machete, which he hid in his green canvas bag. Once at the hospital, he went directly to the pediatric ward on the 5th floor and found Li in a break room.

He questioned Li about his daughter's death and the compensation issue. When the doctor did not reply, Chen took out the machete and struck Li in the head as the doctor was answering a phone call.

Li died at the scene, and Chen was detained by police in the hospital.

In recent days, a number of violent attacks on doctors have occurred across the country, attracting attention from the public and media.

Judicial authorities say they have ramped up efforts to punish assailants and have taken a zero-tolerance attitude toward such crimes.

Last week, the Supreme People's Court held a meeting about judicial reform in which it was decided that people who violently target medical personnel, or who are involved in activities that endanger food or drug safety, will be severely punished.

"In China, lots of patients face difficulties in seeing doctors and paying medical fees," said Li Wei, a lawyer with the Beijing Lawyers Association. "Patients and doctors don't have enough trust in each other, which contributes to the high incidence of violence targeting medical personnel.

"Authorities should adopt comprehensive measures and take the time needed to solve the problem thoroughly," she said.

(source: asiaone.com)

INDIA:

Government to soon introduce bill proposing death penalty for mob lynching

The Union Government will soon bring a bill proposing death penalty for those guilty of the crime of lynching.

The information was shared by Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir when a delegation of the Nathjogi community called on him in Yavatmal, Maharashtra.

Speaking on the act of lynching, the Ahir stated that lynching is a barbaric crime and no civilised society can accept it. The minister's remarks came against the backdrop of a wave of incidents of mob violence over cow smuggling and child lifting being reported from various parts of the country.

The proposed bill is expected to be on the lines of a legislation seeking capital punishment to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.

Background

As per reports, over 69 people have been killed across India in incidents of mob violence.

The reasons for such a heinous crime have been reported to be different in different cases.

In most cases, people were made victims of lynching on mere suspicion of being robbers, cattle slaughterers and child lifters.

5 members of the Nathjogi community, a Nomadic Tribe (NT), from Solapur district were allegedly lynched by a mob in Dhule district in north Maharashtra on suspicion of being 'child lifters' earlier this month.

(source: jagranjosh,com)

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Man gets death, another life imprisonment for raping, killing 58-year-old teacher

A fast track court on Wednesday awarded death penalty and life imprisonment respectively, to 2 persons accused in rape and murder of a 58-year-old teacher at Jamunamukh area in Hojai district of central Assam.

The investigation into the sensational rape and murder case was monitored by the PMO.

The Court of Additional District and Session Judge in Hojai awarded death penalty to accused Mainul Hoque after pronouncing him guilty under Sections 302, 276 (A) and 201 of the IPC while another accused Selimuddin was sentenced to life imprisonment sans any provision for parole after the court held him guilty under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 each on the 2 accused.

The 58-year-old teacher was accosted and murdered by the 2 accused on May 31, 2017 when she was returning home after taking classes in the Lower Primary School where she had been working for years. Her body was thrown into the Kopili river by the accused.

A case was registered at Jamunamukh police station in this regard even as the gruesome crime created mass protests all over the state.

Assam Police at the instance of the state Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had sent a high-level team from police headquarters to help the investigating team on the ground while a team of CID also helped in the investigation. The PMO later called for a written report about the progress of investigation in the case.

Investigating officer Abhisek Bodo filed the chargesheet before the fast track court within 90 days and the trial began in October 2017.

(source: tribuneindia.com)

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LS takes up bill to provide death penalty to child rape convicts

A crucial bill seeking to provide death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years was taken up for discussion by the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The bill seeks to replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 21, following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of another woman at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

Although the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018 was welcomed by most members, some in the Opposition objected to the government adopting the ordinance route to enact the law.

Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the stringent law was aimed at providing safety to minor girls.

The recent incidents of rape and gangrape of women below the age of 12 years has shaken the conscience of the entire nation, he said.

Therefore, the offences of rape and gangrape of women under the age of 12-16 year require effective deterrence through legal provisions of more stringent punishment, he said.

The bill stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 12 years. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.

The minimum punishment in cases of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

According to the bill, in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convict's "natural life".

The punishment for gangrape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict. Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence. Gangrape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death.

The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within 2 months.

The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be 2 months. A 6-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed, the bill says, adding that there will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gangrape of a girl under 16 years.

It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding on bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

Participating in the debate, BJP member Kirron Kher said the bill was "well-timed" and provides hope for safer future for women. She said the opposition should not selectively highlight the case of child rape but speak about how to deal with the henious crime.

She was referring to the issue of Kathua rape case which was raised by N K Premachandran (RSP) who had moved a statutory resolution to disapprove the ordinance promulgated by the President on April 21 this year.

Premachandran said it was apalling that a minor girl was gangraped in a temple and brutally murdered thereafter. Kher said the bill deals with the current reality and lesser than death penalty in case of rape of minor girl cannot be justified.

(source: The Shillong Times)

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Report: Amendment in POCSO Act with emphasis to Death Penalty

INTRODUCTION:

Sexual abuses on children are a big dealt stain on society's face at large as it shook the human consciousness of the society and has caused obstruction in the normal and healthy growth of children. It leads to grave physical and psychological effects on the body and mind of a child and dismantles the normal growth of a child. It does not leave only physical injuries on the body but also leaves an everlasting scar on the child's mind at a very tender age. POCSO ACT has been birthed out of the very need to enact a specific legislation to tackle with the increasing sexual abuse against children in form of abuses like rape, pornography, various forms of penetration and crimiiliazes acts of immodesty against children too.

Child Sex Abuse is considered as the most heinous crime which can be done to a child as the offender of these crimes knows that the forced sex which they are doing with the child is by leashing child's vulnerability and trust and is exposing to child under grave trauma which is not just a physical attack on its body and private parts but also disturbing a child's mind so blatantly that it can take a lifetime for the child to feel normal ever after that abuse.

Before stepping into any discussion with the related topic, we need to know that what is the meaning of "Death Penalty"? Moreover, what the object behind the introduction of POCSO Act, in the Indian Judiciary?

Death penalty refers to the Death punishment that is given by the court for the rare offences like Sedition, waging war against the state, Gang rape and other heinous crime. It is also known as Capital punishment. The sentence by which someone can be punished is referred to as a death sentence, whereas the act of carrying out the sentence is known as an execution. 56 countries have still retained capital punishment, 103 countries have completely abolished it de jure for all crimes, 6 have abolished it for ordinary crimes (while maintaining it for special circumstances such as war crimes), and 30 countries abolition are still withheld.

Now Days this question is very controversial in nature, that whether Death penalty should be abolished or not and I am totally in favor of the decriminalization of death penalty and thus I would likely to justify my point:

As it was said by Mahatma Gandhi that - An eye for an eye will make the whole world is blind? Now time has come to adopt the reformative theory of punishment because Criminal is not criminal by birth but rather Situation made them harsh criminal. So, again in a statement Mahatma Gandhi said "Hate the crime, not the criminal" but in such situation of heinous crimes always it is not possible that people will not hate the criminal who have devastated one's life into pain and agony. So, this 2 statements are contradictory.

The reason behind the decriminalization of death penalty is that it is prohibited in 103 countries of the world and it is not necessary that criminal commits a crime again they can be reform and our Article 21 is also saying that everyone has right to live and personal liberty. Thus, in conclusion I would likely to say that in our Country, Retributive theory of punishment has failed to stopped rather control the crime and through Death penalty the criminal can be killed but not his ideology so now the society needs to accept that reformative theory of punishment should be adopted or in my opinion the way of punishment should be made much harsher so that any hardbound criminal thinks twice before committing any such heinous crimes. The Montgomery Story, said, "Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral... it seeks to annihilate rather than convert."

Some are the following actions which are considered as Child Sexual Abuse:

(According to a report by WHO)

Fondling a child's genitals

Making the child fondle the adult's genitals

Intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism and sexual exploitation

Inducement or coercion of child in unlawful activity.

The exploitative use of child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices

The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

The effects of child sexual abuse can include:

Depression

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Anxiety

low self esteem

propensity to further victimization in adulthood

physical injury to child

Psychological trauma

Loss of confidence

Humiliation

Behavioral changes

Suicidal tendency

POCSO ACT mandates the state parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child are required to undertake all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent -

The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials;

THE STATISTICS OVERVIEW BY SAVE THE CHILD ORGANISATION BIG PICTURE OF POCSO ACT ACROSS INDIA

As per the data collected by Save the Children, India it has shown that recently, the new child protection legislation like the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (2012) has given more teeth to fighting child rights violation. The number of cases registered for child abuse raised from 8,904 in the year 2014 to 14,913 in the year 2015, under the POSCO Act. Sexual offences and kidnapping account for 81% of the crimes against the minor as preventive measures designed to ward off strangers (installing CCTV cameras and providing self-defense training) will be ineffective, as children do not know how to ward off unwanted sexual advances from their known relatives, acquaintances or workplace seniors they trust.

POSCO - State wise cases -

Uttar Pradesh led the highest number of child abuse cases (3,078)

Madhya Pradesh (1,687 cases)

Tamil Nadu (1,544 cases)

Karnataka (1,480 cases)

Gujarat(1,416cases).

Moreover, the act has raised the age of consent from 16 to 18 years without considering scientific evidence on adolescent sexuality. Children involved in sexual activity will be treated as juveniles in conflict with the law. In cases of consensual sexual relationships between those in the age group of 16 and 18 years, how can we distinguish between the victim and the perpetrator. In an enormous 83% of the cases parents were the abusers. Sadly, approximately 48% of the girls wished they were boys.

Across the country, going by the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the incidence of crime against children rose by 13.6 % in 2016 compared with the previous year.

Uttar Pradesh led the list with as many as 4,954 complaints, followed by Maharashtra (4,815) and Madhya Pradesh (4,717).

In Bengal, however, the commission for protection of child rights had recorded only 34 cases last year.

As reported by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the details of incidences of child sexual abuse in the country are as under:

Cases 2014 2015

Cases registered under child rape (section 376 IPC) 13766 10854

Cases registered under Assault on Women (girl children) with intent to outrage her modesty (section 354 IPC) 11335 8390

Cases registered under Insult to the Modesty of Women (girl children) (section 509 IPC) 444 348

Cases registered under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 8904 14913

Under Rule 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Rules, 2012, grant of compensation to the victim is required to be made under the victim compensation scheme by the State/UT Government as ordered by the Special Courts within 30 days of receipt of such order.

State/UT-wise cases registrered, persons arrested, persons whose trials completed during the year and person convicted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 during 2014-2015

Year 2014 2015 Category Cases Registered Persons Arrested Persons whose trial completed during the year Persons Convicted Cases Registered Persons Arrested Persons whose trial completed during the year Persons Convicted TOTAL (ALL INDIA) 8904 11172 548 109 14913 18651 2501 1072

[Source: Crime in India Note: Persons disposed may include previous year persons under trial]

Implementation of The POCSO Act, 2012

The effectiveness of a law depends largely on the people responsible for its implementation and application. State governments will have to ensure that all the requirements specified under the law are in place and all key stakeholders will have to internalize the core principles of child rights in order for the law to work.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:

Reasons for Enactment of POCSO Act, 2012

The very inadequacy of Indian Penal Code and absence of any stringent legislation for effectively addressing and tackling heinous crimes such as sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children birthed the commencement of POCSO ACT as the very intention of Government establishments was to protect the children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and to facilitate adequate legal machinery by establishing special courts for trial of such offences and matters incidental connected with child sexual abuse crimes. This was in due compliance of Article 15 of Constitution of India which mandates the states to protect the children of this nation and in lieu of United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child which prescribes the set of standards to be followed by state parties in securing the best interest of the child.

What is POCSO Act? Here is all we need to know about the following Act:

POCSO or The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was established to protect the children against offences like sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography. It was formed to provide a child-friendly and safe system for trial beneath which the perpetrators could be punished. This Act defines a child as any person below 18 years of age. It also makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimization of the child at the hands of the judicial system. Many issues including stigma, family and societal pressure, financial constraints and an insensitive criminal justice system need to be resolved for victims to come forward more and for their rapists to face punishment for their crimes.

In order to effectively give punishment for the heinous crimes relating to sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children through less ambiguous and more rigorous legal provisions, the Ministry of Women and Child Development developed the idea for the introduction of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 has received the President's assent on June 19, 2012. It was notified in the Gazette of India on June 20, in the same year.

The Act defines different forms of sexual abuse which includes penetrative and non-penetrative assault or actions committed towards a child. It also involves sexual harassment, pornography and other such heinous crimes. Under certain specific circumstances POCSO states a sexual assault is to be considered "aggravated if the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a member of the armed forces or security forces or a public servant or a person in a position of trust or authority of the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor or a person-management or staff of a hospital - whether Government or private". People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act. The Act prescribes strict punishment graded as per the weightage or seriousness of the offence, depending on the situation with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, along with fine.

IMPORTANT RELATED STATUTES/LAWS:

This Act after its commencement, out of all statutes made some of it way more important and a mandate to be followed. This Act makes it a legal duty of a person, who is aware about the offence immediately without any delay to report the sexual abuse. In case he fails to do so, the person can be punished with 6 months' imprisonment or fine. The Act further denotes that the evidence relating to the child or provided by the child should be recorded within a period of 30 days. The Special Court taking cognizance of the matter should be able to complete the trial within the period of 1 year from the date of taking cognizance of the abuse. It provides that the Special Court proceedings should be recorded in camera (maintaining privacy keeping in mind the safety and honor of the victim child) and the trial should take place in the presence of parent's or any other person in whom the child has trust or confidence.

Moreover, the Act provides for punishment against false complaints or untrue information. It describes strict action against the offender according to the gravity of the offence. It prescribes rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine as punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault. It also prescribes punishment to the people who traffic children for sexual purposes.

Child sex abuse crimes before the enactment of POCSO Act were dealt under Indian Penal code. Child Sexual abuses were prosecuted under Indian Penal Code under following sections

P.C (1860) - Sec 375 Rape

P.C (1860) - Sec 354 Outraging the modesty of women

P.C (1860) - Sec 377 Unnatural Offences

The I.P.C. was not adequate enough to protect the children and criminalize non- conventional sexual abuses which are different from above mentioned conventional crimes in form of child trafficking, pornography, sale of children. There were several loopholes in the IPC which could not effectively protect the child due to various loopholes like:

IPC 375 doesn't protect male victims or anyone from sexual acts of penetration other than "traditional" peno -vaginal intercourse.

IPC 354 lacks a statutory definition of "modesty". It carries a weak penalty and is a compoundable offence. Further, it does not protect the "modesty" of a male child.

In IPC 377, the term "unnatural offences" is not defined. It only applies to victims penetrated by their attacker's sex act, and is not designed to criminalize sexual abuse of children.

Here are some important statutes relating the Act:

Section 3 of this act, explains Penetrative Sexual Assault. Elaborating in detail, if any person inserts anything in the Private part of a child or ask him/her to do so then it's a crime.

Section 4 of POCSO Act explains Punishment for penetrative sexual assault - Whoever commits penetrative sexual assault shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extent to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine or both.

Section 6 of POCSO act explains Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault - Whoever, commits aggravated penetrative sexual assault, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine or both.

Section 7 of POCSO Act explains Sexual Assault - Whoever, with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault."

Section 8 of POCSO Act explains Punishment for sexual assault - Whoever, commits sexual assault, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 3 years but which may extent to 5 years, and shall also be liable to fine or both.

In a relatively recent case reported from a Kanpur village, a 10 year old boy was hospitalised after a minor girl tried to have forceful sexual activity with him. The incident took place in Kulhauli village of Bidhnu area when the 16 year old girl sweet-talked the boy from her neighbourhood into her house and tried to have sex with him. In the attempt, the boy sustained serious injuries in his private parts and started to bleed. While the boy was undergoing treatment at the Hallet hospital in Kanpur, police said they were perplexed as to under which legal provision shall the case be lodged. "Both the victim and the aggressor are minors, in this case and as a result lodging complaint has become difficult", said SSP Kanpur Shalabh Mathur. Legal experts said that a case can be lodged under Section 8 of POCSO.

Section 11 of POCSO Act, deals with the Sexual Harassment. This section considers the following crimes:

If a Person touches a child with a wrong intent,

If a person shows the child a pornography.

The Convict found under this section have a sentence of imprisonment up to 3 years.

Now, The Central Cabinet Approves the execution of rape convicts who rape the Girl below 12 Year of Age.

LANDMARK JUDGEMENTS AND CASES:

The Union cabinet has passed an ordinance to amend several provisions of the Indian Penal Code, POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and Indian Evidence Act. This includes an amendment for death penalty for rape of children below 12 years. The announcement appears to follow a predictable pattern - when the government is on the back foot, announce 'death penalty' to appease the public. However, such a statement is a mere eye-wash for the government's apathy in addressing core concerns of rape victims and the deplorable condition of the Special POCSO Courts in the country.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Mahiwal and others who are taking cognizance for death penalty conveniently fail to acknowledge that the courts are already empowered to award death penalty to the accused in a gruesome rape and murder case, as it would fall within the 'rarest of rare' category. Even in the Delhi Gang Rape case, the accused were awarded death penalty under the then existing provisions of the Indian Penal Code, and not under the amended statute.

Such as there are some current cases that recently shook the country. As, it rightly said by the famous renowned Noble Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, that the child rape cases have become a National Emergency.

The Kathua Rape Case (Jammu and Kashmir): -

The Kathua rape case refers to the abduction, rape, and murder of an 8-year-old girl, Asifa Bano, in Rasana village near Kathua in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in January 2018. A chargesheet for the case has been filed, the accused have been arrested and the trial began in Kathua on 16 April 2018.The victim belonged to the nomad Bakarwal community. She disappeared for a week before her dead body was discovered by the villagers a kilometer away from the village. The incident made national news when charges were filed against 8 men in April 2018. The arrests of the accused led to protests by the Panthers Party, along with other local groups. One of the protests, in support of the accused, was attended by two ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party, both of whom have now resigned. The rape and murder, as well as the support the accused received, sparked widespread outrage.

The trial for the Kathua murder and rape case began in Jammu and Kashmir on 16 April 2018 before the Principal Sessions Court judge, Kathua. The second hearing is scheduled for 28 April 2018. The Supreme Court have sought a response from the Jammu and Kashmir government regarding shifting the trial to Chandigarh by 27 April 2018. A demand by Bhim Singh, leader of the Panthers Party, for an independent inquiry by the CBI was heard and denied by the Supreme Court of India. The Unnao Rape Case (Uttar Pradesh): -

Facts

The Unnao rape case refers to the alleged rape of a 17 year old girl on 4 June 2017. The main accused is Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh, and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The case is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The rape survivor attempted to immolate herself in front of the residence of Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, on 8 April 2018. Her father died in judicial custody shortly afterwards. These incidents led to the rape being widely reported in the national media. The Unnao rape case and the Kathua rape case received national attention during the same period, leading to joint protests seeking justice for both victims.

Arrests

Joint protests for the Unnao rape case and Kathua rape case at Parliament Street, New Delhi on 15 April 2018.

On 13 April 2018, Kul deep Sen agar was taken in by the CBI for questioning. Later in the day, on the basis of Allahabad High Court order, he was arrested and new First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered and sent for a week in judicial custody. A 2nd arrest in the case was made on 14 April 2018 of Shashi Singh who allegedly took the survivor to the BJP MLA on the same day as the incident.

Protests

The incident made headlines in India in April 2018. The Kathua rape case made headlines during the same period, when charges were filed against the accused; the Kathua rape had occurred in January 2018.Joint protests were held across India demanding justice for both victims. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, issued a statement condemning the incidents, and stated that justice would take its course.

The Surat Rape Case: -

3 persons, including the main perpetrator, was involved in the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Surat have been arrested, which was so very horrifying the Gujarat government said on Friday. Minister of State for Home Pradeep Singh Jadeja told the media here that Gujarat Police arrested the key perpetrator from a village in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, who will be brought to Gujarat. Earlier in the day, chief minister Vijay Rupani said that Surat Police had arrested 3 persons in the case. All accused are believed to be originally from Rajasthan. Police had found the body of the girl with over 86 injuries dumped in the bushes near Jeeav Road in Pandesara area of Surat on April 6. An autopsy revealed that she was brutally raped and tortured for days before her murder.

This case of rape was registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The Minister said that over 400 personnel of Surat police and Ahmedabad Crime Branch worked on the case. Police analysed the mobile data and CCTV footage from a 3-km radius of the spot from where the body was found. The case was finally cracked after police zeroed in on CCTV footage of a black car moving suspiciously in the area. Earlier, police suspected that the girl hailed from either Odisha, West Bengal or Jharkhand. An Andhra Pradesh man had come forward to claim the girl was his daughter. Surat police even carried out a DNA test to verify his claim. "On April 9, a woman's decomposed body was found lying a few km from the spot where the girl was found dead. We believe she is the girl's mother. We will carry out a DNA test," as said by Jadeja.

But more problematic is the categorization of minors as 'under 12' and 'over 12'. By this the ministry seems to be endorsing the prejudicial view that children above 12 are likely to file false cases. Do girls above 12 years face less physical injury, mental trauma, social stigma and other consequences of rape? In our experience of providing socio-legal support to victims of sexual violence, it has become evident that the police, prosecutors, judges, media and general public are less trusting of adolescent girls - that they lie, indulge in consensual sex and file false cases. The categorization is based on a flawed notion of 'consent' and 'agency'. Just by taking up some 1 or 2 cases our society judge or provide so easily a character certificate to a girl child that they will file fraud cases against themselves as once it was happened in the Mathura case where the girl who was involved in the consensual rape, just by taking into consent of that case one can't define the symbolism of a girl that too who is a minor.

RTI Filing & Revert received: -

On April 28, a minor girl was reportedly molested by an Assistant Sub Inspector in an elevator in Kochi and a case was registered under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. However, the accused was only arrested 3 weeks later, on May 21.

On May 13, another police official in Malappuram was suspended for failing to act promptly in a case of child abuse when a 60-year-old man sitting in a theatre was accused of sexually abusing a minor girl. The incident happened on April 18, and the people working in the theatre handed over the footage to the District Child line officials a day later, who immediately informed the police. However, the case was taken up only after a television channel aired the CCTV visuals.

The 2 recent incidents reveal how cases of child abuse are not taken seriously enough in Kerala.

An RTI filed by Advocate DB Binu revealed that 2,266 complaints related to child rights violations are left unresolved in the state between March 2013 and March 2018, as there was less attention paid to those cases which are being filed and left unresolved.

A breakdown of the numbers also shows that the pending cases are increasing every year.

Four cases pending in 2014-15,

In 2015-16, the number hiked to 56,

In 2016-17, its shot up to 758

In 2017-18, the number of cases pending is 1,448.

The RTI further revealed that out of the 7,484 cases registered in the Commission since its formation, only 5,128 have been resolved. Thus, Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, tops the list with 1677 cases registered and 540 cases left unresolved. Meanwhile there are 248 cases left unresolved in Kollam district and 171 in Ernakulum district.

Binu alleged that the Commission is not functioning properly and that the Governor should intervene immediately. "The Commission's acting chairman is drawing a salary of around Rs 1,77,000. And the other 4 members are drawing salary ranging between Rs 1,25,000 and Rs 1,77,000. This is a white elephant for the state," Binu said.

The Commission's Acting Chairman, too, admitted that the number of cases of child abuse were high. "We are getting more such complaints from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Kollam and Malappuram because people there are more aware about children's rights and come forward with complaints," CJ Antony, the Acting Commission Chairman, was quoted as saying.

Research conducted on this Issue: -

The Delhi High Court on Monday questioned why the ordinance on amending the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, to provide for death penalty to those convicted of raping a child up to 12 years old, was cleared without conducting any research on the issue. The observation by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar came while dealing with a plea seeking to strike down the amendments made in the rape law post the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape incident here as they are "being abused".

Asking if any study or research was conducted while clearing the ordinance on POCSO, the court observed that it seemed to come after people started demanding strict punishment against the rapists of minors. It said that the ordinance is also silent on granting welfare to the rape victims and does not deal with issues related to educating and sensitizing youth and juveniles on sexual offences against women, especially minors.

On Sunday President Ram Nath Kovind approved an ordinance to provide death penalty for those convicted of raping girls younger than 12 years besides clearing another ordinance to confiscate property of fugitive economic offenders. The President promulgated The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, approved by the Cabinet on Saturday, that seeks to provide effective deterrence against rape and instill a sense of security among women, particularly young girls. The ordinance amends the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

The ordinance comes against the backdrop of the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, the rape of a teenager in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh and similar crimes in other parts of the country. The court, hearing a plea filed by academician Madhu Purnima Kishwar, listed the matter for September. Kishwar's plea has sought striking down of some of the provisions of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, which provides for amendments to the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act and Code of Criminal Procedure on laws related to sexual offences.

After the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on December 16, 2012, a committee under the chairmanship of a retired Supreme Court judge was constituted to suggest amendments to the criminal law to sternly deal with sexual assault cases.

Will death penalty anyhow change the deep rooted patriarchal acceptance that the man of the family has complete sexual access to the bodies of women in this house whom he financially supports, whereas an outsider must be sentenced to death for committing the same act, since that is 'worse than death'? this question just hovers around a person mind that whether death penalty can sort out the seed of crime which is being sown by the perpetrators of the society.

The POCSO Act already provides for appointment of special courts and special public prosecutors. According to the proposed ordinance, new fast track courts are to be set-up. Where are these sensitive and efficient judges and public prosecutors going to suddenly appear from? It has been more than 5 years since the enactment of the POCSO Act, but most special courts do not even have a basic screen between the victim and the accused, waiting area, separate entrance and other basic infrastructural requirements for recording the evidence of a victim. But one thing that is been done good after the enactment has been made is that the proposed ordinance also reduces time limits for investigation and trial without providing any concrete institutional support. Moreover, there has been substantial change after the amendment of this act, as there has been increase in reporting of the cases that is been noticed, and it is expected that immediate action is to be taken by the courts for the speedy disposal.

Thus, lack of faith in the justice system, family and societal and other peer pressure, financial constraints and an insensitive criminal justice system are some of the hurdles faced by victims while reporting. It is being assumed that Death penalty will be an added burden.

Finally, according to the Death Penalty Research Project by National Law University, Delhi, 24.5% of prisoners on death row are Dalits and Adivasis and 20.7% are from religious minorities. This leads us to the question - who will our courts actually award the death sentence to? More likely to the poor and marginalized youth from Dalit, adivasi and Muslim communities, who are already the backward section of the society. But are we really doing good by awarding death penalty to the accused, will it really wipe out the whole of the junk from the society or is it the problem mainly with the mindset of the people that is to be changed from the inner core, these question will always be left unanswered if there is no security provided for the future generation.... "CHILD". REFERENCES: -

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/temple-at-centre-of-tragedy-no-one-coming-to-mandir-for-days-now/articleshow/63753432.cms

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/kathua-case-charges-of-rape-and-murder-framed-against-7-accused/articleshow/64497229.cms

https://thehindu.sexualharrasmentcase

Outlook magazine

Indian penal code, 1860 Bare act

POCSO Act, 2012 Bare act

(source: About Author: Soumyadipa Banik prepared this research report during her internship with Legal Desire. She is final year student of law at Calcutta University as on July 2018----legaldesire.com)

IRAQ:

Iraqis from same family risk death penalty over Daesh killings

8 Iraqis from the same family risk being sentenced to death after admitting to involvement in killing 370 people while members of Daesh (ISIS), the judiciary said Wednesday.

The men face charges under Iraq's anti-terror legislation over the killings at Khasfah, a sinkhole in northern Iraq just 8 kilometers from Mosul, the former capital of Daesh's self-declared "caliphate".

"The 8 terrorists arrested have admitted to participating in the Khasfah massacre," said Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdel-Sattar Bayraqdar.

"They participated in the execution of 370 civilians and members of security forces and the arrest of 400 people in Mosul," who were then held in Daesh jails, he added in a statement.

After Daesh overran Mosul in 2014, Khasfah became one of Iraq's largest mass graves as militants carried out a series of executions at the site.

Witnesses said the victims were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs, before being forced to kneel. They were then shot and pushed into the crater.

More than 300 people, including around 100 foreigners, have been sentenced to death or life in prison by Iraqi courts over their membership of Daesh, according to judicial sources.

Iraq declared victory in December over the militant group, which at its peak controlled nearly 1/3 of the country as well as large swathes of neighboring Syria.

(source: Agence France-Presse)

JULY 31, 2018:

TEXAS:

Testimony ends in death penalty appeal

Testimony has concluded in the latest appeal in the case of Micah Crofford Brown, convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection.

Testimony has concluded in the latest appeal in the case of Micah Crofford Brown, convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection in connection with the 2011 shooting death of his ex-wife Stella Michelle "Doc" Ray, a Caddo Mills Independent School District teacher.

A final decision in the case is not expected for a few more months, according to 196th District Court Judge Andrew Bench.

Both sides rested their cases Friday in the hearing after all evidence was presented related to Brown's latest appeal.

Bench said the attorneys will now await delivery of an official transcript of the hearing, then they can review the transcript before presenting their "facts and conclusions of law."

Bench said once those documents are presented to his court, he will schedule a hearing for both sides to present their final live arguments before he makes a ruling in the appeal.

Brown was transferred from state prison to the custody of the Hunt County Detention Center for this latest hearing, and he remained in the jail Monday.

Brown, of Greenville, was convicted in May 2013 and sentenced to death by lethal injection. He does not yet have an execution date scheduled.

Testimony during the trial indicated Ray was shot and killed in Greenville on the night of July 20, 2011, as the result of a dispute with Brown concerning the couple's 2 children.

After the conviction and death sentence were upheld by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a post-conviction writ was filed on Brown's behalf in 2015 by the Office of Capital Writs, a state agency charged with representing death-sentenced persons in state post-conviction habeas corpus and related proceedings.

The 124-page document listed multiple alleged issues with Brown's conviction and sentence, including ineffective assistance by the trial and appeals defense attorneys, improper arguments by prosecutors during the punishment phase, and failure to present evidence during the punishment phase that Brown suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior, which may have mitigated the jury's decision to issue the death penalty.

During Brown's capital murder trial, Ray's mother testified her daughter had worked as a teacher for the Caddo Mills ISD for 2 years, and she had just earned her doctorate degree and was planning on taking a professorship at a college in Marshall.

Donna Ray said her daughter was planning to stop by her residence on the night of the murder, the day before she was to move to Marshall.

During the trial, defense attorney Toby Wilkinson stated that the shooting was the result of a dispute between Brown and Ray concerning the couple's 2 small children, who were inside the PT Cruiser that Ray was driving on the night she was killed.

(source: Herald Banner)

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

AP reporter who observed 400+ executions in Texas retires

Associated Press journalist Michael Graczyk, who witnessed and chronicled more than 400 executions as a criminal justice reporter in Texas, will retire Tuesday after nearly 46 years with the news service.

Graczyk, 68, may have observed more executions than any other person in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Millions of readers in Texas and beyond relied on his coverage of capital punishment in America's most active death penalty state.

He built a reputation for accuracy and fairness with death row inmates, their families, their victims' families and their lawyers, as well as prison officials and advocates on both sides of capital punishment. He made a point of visiting and photographing every condemned inmate willing to be interviewed and talking to relatives of their victims. Over time, he became widely known as an authority on the death penalty and a witness to history.

Even after retiring, Graczyk will continue covering executions for the AP on a freelance basis, an arrangement he suggested.

Long ago, Graczyk said, he stopped keeping count of how many executions he observed. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice's list of media witnesses includes his name 429 times, though that list is not exhaustive.

"It has given me a greater appreciation for life," he said. "You get a real sense of life and how fast it can be taken."

Noreen Gillespie, the AP's deputy managing editor for U.S. news, said the significance of Graczyk's work "can't be underestimated."

"Mike's description of what happens in an execution is how the world and most of the country knows how that happens," she said.

Graczyk joined the AP in 1972 in Detroit, shortly after graduating from Wayne State University. He moved to Houston in 1983 with his wife, Mary, and their 2 children.

Executions became his beat by happenstance. In 1982, Texas executed its 1st inmate since the Supreme Court allowed states to resume capital punishment. When the state prepared to conduct its 2nd execution in 1986, Graczyk, as the Houston bureau manager, took the assignment.

Over time, he built a routine. He learned what to watch and listen for, and how to spot if something was wrong. In most cases, he said, observing an execution is "essentially watching someone go to sleep and they don't wake up."

The beat could be macabre and occasionally absurd.

In a 2013 piece to mark Texas' 500th execution since resuming capital punishment, Graczyk recounted how one inmate called his name and said hello when he walked into the chamber. Another inmate strapped to the gurney spit out a handcuff key. And a third, for his last words, sang the Christmas carol "Silent Night."

"Christmas, for me, never has been the same," Graczyk wrote.

Hundreds of media outlets counted on Graczyk to cover each execution without an agenda.

"A lot of people do a lot of hard things in journalism, but what he's done, the commitment he's made to see those stories through, is amazing," said Debbie Hiott, editor of the Austin American-Statesman.

"You never saw a slant one way or the other," said Jason Clark, chief of staff of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "People picked up on that."

Graczyk has been asked many times whether he believes the death penalty should be legal. He said he's a practicing Catholic and respects the church's teachings against capital punishment, but that he has not made up his own mind.

"I'm not dodging the question," he said. "I don't know."

The job involved being more than an execution writer.

He covered hurricanes, interviewed former President George H.W. Bush several times and had an eye for feature stories that explained Texas to the world. He also reported on the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr., a black man who was chained to a pickup truck in Jasper, Texas.

In retirement, Graczyk said, he might write a book of fiction inspired by the characters he's met. And he will keep covering executions, in part to stay busy, but also because he still enjoys the work.

"I found just the whole idea of covering these things to lend itself to really good stories, compelling stories," he said.

(source: gazetteextra.com)

LOUISIANA:

Edwards dodges when asked his death penalty stance

With a less-than-firm position on Louisiana's use of the death penalty, Gov. John Bel Edwards has given his regular sparring partner, Attorney General Jeff Landry, a foothold to needle the governor in the summer's political doldrums.

Landry, a Republican considered a possible challenger to Edwards next year, suggests the Democratic governor's lackluster support for Louisiana's use of capital punishment keeps Edwards from pressing to carry out Louisiana's pending executions.

And Edwards' lukewarm response to questions about his personal position on whether the death penalty is an appropriate form of punishment allows Landry to continue speculating that the governor is deliberately dragging his feet on enforcing state law.

Louisiana's last execution was in 2010. 71 inmates are on death row in the state.

The spark for this latest Edwards/Landry feud was a federal court order this month prohibiting Louisiana from carrying out any death sentences until mid-2019.

The Edwards administration asked for the extension, citing trouble getting lethal injection drugs. In response, Landry's office said it was withdrawing from defending the corrections department against the lawsuit challenging its lethal injection protocols.

Landry said the biggest obstacle is Edwards' "unwillingness to proceed." He's slammed the governor on the issue in letters released to news outlets, in interviews, and on social media.

Though reporters have continually asked, the governor won't say if he personally supports the death penalty. He dodges when questioned about it.

Asked last week if he favored capital punishment, Edwards told reporters: "The law of the state of Louisiana allows for the death penalty, and it prescribes a certain method." Then, he explained: "It is not possible to carry out the death penalty in the state of Louisiana because the drug cocktail is not available to use."

Another reporter tried again, asking a similar question. Edwards replied: "I will do what I am required to do as chief executive officer of the state of Louisiana who takes an oath to the laws and to the constitution of our state."

Landry claims the governor is using the difficulty obtaining lethal injection drugs as an excuse. He points to other states that have found ways to access the drugs and execute prisoners. Landry said continued delays keep victims' families from "getting justice" for horrific crimes.

Edwards administration officials said the ideas offered by Landry are unworkable. They said if Landry felt so strongly about restarting executions in Louisiana, he could have encouraged legislators to rewrite the laws as some other states have done, to expand available execution methods or shield information about the drugs they use and how they obtain them.

The governor accused Landry of trying to "score political points" by "using victims of crime."

"The families of victims are not well-served by politicians who spout off about this issue without real solutions," Edwards wrote the attorney general.

Landry's office said it tried to work with the Edwards administration behind the scenes and only started hammering the governor publicly when the latest court filing showed Edwards wasn't interested in carrying out executions.

If Edwards supported capital punishment, Landry said, he'd say so.

"The governor could put this all to bed. He could answer the question," Landry said.

To be sure, Edwards faces competing pressure points on the issue. He comes from a family of law enforcement officials, stretching across several generations. He's also Catholic, and church leaders oppose the death penalty, with Pope Francis saying it violates the Gospel.

Landry, too, is Catholic. But he's direct in his support of the death penalty. He's sent Edwards proposed draft language that lawmakers could use to allow Louisiana to execute people by nitrogen gas, hanging, firing squads or electrocution.

Asked if he'd support expanding Louisiana's execution methods, Edwards said: "I'm not inclined to go back to methods that have been discarded because popular sentiment turned against them or maybe some methods that were deemed to be barbaric and so forth."

"We have a law in place, and we will continue to try to search for solutions around that law, lethal injection. But for example, hangings and firing squads? No, I am not," the governor said.

(source: Associated Press)

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

Louisiana's grappling with death penalty is not so much about policy as it is posturing

Louisiana has a death penalty in principle but not in practice, as a recent spat between Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Attorney General John Bel Edwards has served to remind everyone.

State law authorizes execution by lethal injection, but pharmaceutical companies refuse to sell the state the drugs needed for executions, fearing backlash from consumers. Landry, who might challenge Edwards in the upcoming gubernatorial election, says the governor isn't doing enough to break the impasse that's delayed executions indefinitely. Landry is touting alternate methods of putting prisoners to death, such as a return to hangings, firing squads and the electric chair. That's made for vivid political theater, which is Landry's stock in trade, but there are other factors driving delays in executions.

Legal appeals of various sorts by death row inmates have slowed executions to a crawl. Louisiana last executed a prisoner in 2010, and that inmate had volunteered to be put the death. Before that 2010 execution, the last person executed in Louisiana was in 2002.

Americans don't lightly regard the state's power to take a life, which is why death row inmates are afforded extensive appeals. Instances of wrongfully convicted death row inmates underscore the importance of due process under the law.

But as a practical matter, the presence of inmates on death row for decades after convictions of heinous crimes has made capital punishment a pretty toothless tool in exacting punishment.

Louisiana legislators can consider changing state law to allow alternatives to the current protocol of execution drugs, but the fact that lawmakers haven't done so already is telling. Even in the reliably conservative halls of the Capitol, leaders don't seem to have much stomach for discussing capital punishment. The practice is increasingly controversial, as the refusal of Big Pharma the supply to necessary drugs makes clear. The industry is, if nothing else, fairly attuned to popular sentiment. Opposition to capital punishment by mainstream institutions such as the Catholic Church, a significant force in Louisiana, point to the political complications of the issue.

The result has been growing ambivalence about capital punishment among the public and the politicians who serve it - a general willingness to accept the strange prospect of a punishment loudly evoked but seldom implemented. This is criminal justice that's not so much a policy as a posture.

Little wonder, then, that the latest debate on capital punishment has been such an exercise in cynicism.

(source: Editorial, The Advocate)

INDIANA:

New Boone County prosecutor inherits 2 high-profile death penalty cases

Prosecutor Todd Meyer stood before a gathering of reporters after a gunman killed Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett as Kent Eastwood was in the wings.

Eastwood, then the county's chief deputy prosecutor, was used to standing in the background while Meyer spoke to the cameras at news conferences like this.

But no more.

On June 25, 2 months after Meyer sought the death penalty against the suspect in Pickett's slaying, Boone County Republicans tapped Eastwood to replace Meyer. Meyer, a Republican, stepped down to work for Gov. Eric Holcomb in the Department of Child Services.

The new prosecutor for suburban Boone County now inherits not just 1 but 2 of the most high-profile murder cases pending in Central Indiana's justice system.

The choice of Eastwood made sense. He ran unopposed and won in the Boone County Republican primary.

The general election is a formality because no Democrats have filed to run for Boone County prosecutor. Eastwood's is the only name that will appear on the ballot in November.

Eastwood, a 46-year-old husband and father of 3 boys, has been a deputy prosecutor for almost 20 years.

He earned a law degree from Indiana University and cut his legal teeth in the late 1990s working for then-Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman. He quickly rose from prosecuting misdemeanors and low-level felonies to winning cases against big-time dope dealers.

Eastwood specialized in drug prosecutions and served as liaison to undercover narcotics units from several agencies.

It was then that Eastwood said he would get calls in the middle of the night to meet investigators at crime scenes or help file search warrants.

He enjoyed it.

"Working with law enforcement," Eastwood said, "that's what defined me as a prosecutor and showed me that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."

He is still working with law enforcement, but the cases are much bigger now.

Pickett was the 1st Boone County officer killed in the line of duty since 1935.

Thousands attended the memorial service at a Brownsburg church. A 14-mile-long procession of law enforcement vehicles passed through 3 counties on the day of the funeral.

Thousands of people also lined the streets. They held signs of gratitude. One read: "There is no better hero than you Jacob Pickett."

Eastwood now oversees the murder trial of Anthony Baumgardt, the man accused of killing Deputy Pickett.

Baumgardt, according to court documents, was wanted on a warrant on a theft charge when he jumped from a stolen car after fleeing police with several other men in Lebanon on March 2.

Pickett and his K-9 partner Brik were chasing Baumgardt. Court documents say Baumgardt shot Pickett as the deputy rounded a corner.

If convicted, Baumgardt could face the death penalty.

Another major case could lead to Eastwood asking a jury to send Zachariah B. Wright to death row for a horrific crime.

Wright was 19 when court records say he stabbed 73-year-old Maxwell Foster to death and assaulted and tried to set fire to Foster's 68-year-old wife, Sonja, in Lebanon on June 18, 2017. Wright faces 23 charges, including murder.

Shortly after his arrest, Wright told Fox59 that he was innocent.

"It may have been a person that looked like me. I wasn't in that area at that time," Wright told Fox59 in an interview from the Boone County Jail.

Investigators, however, found a blood covered pair of jeans in Wright's home. DNA tests later matched the blood to Maxwell and Sonja Foster, prosecutors said.

Eastwood declined to comment specifically on either case, but he said he has been deeply involved in trail preparation for both.

Eastwood has been around long enough to have earned the trust of many defense attorneys who oppose him in the courtroom, Indianapolis lawyer Mark Inman said.

"He's not going to hide stuff," Inman said. "It's above board, professional and respectful. I think that goes both ways."

Boone County, population 66,000, is growing fast, and so is its criminal justice system. U.S. Census data shows the county added nearly 10,000 residents since 2010.

"There are more places to go," Eastwood said. "At 6 o-clock on a Tuesday night you can't get near downtown Zionsville."

The prosecutor's office employs about 30 people, 10 of them lawyers. This year, Eastwood said his office will file about 2,500 criminal cases, more than double the cases filed in 2015.

Eastwood has been the No. 2 prosecutor in Boone County for about a decade. Meyer, the former prosecutor, has no doubts in Eastwood's ability.

"I have every confidence that Kent and his administration will be more than capable of prosecuting those cases (against Baumgardt and Wright) to convictions," Meyer said.

Meyer said he knew when he stepped down to run for county judge (he lost in the GOP primary by less than 50 votes), that he was leaving the office in good hands.

"He served as chief deputy for about 10 years; you can't get much more on-the-job training than that," Meyer said. "That positioned Kent well to take the reins upon my departure.

"He was ready."

(source: Indianapolis Star)

TENNESSEE:

Death penalty's toll on state's executioners

The criminal justice system is divided into 3 distinct but equally important components -- law enforcement, courts and corrections.

There is no textbook that can adequately prepare students for what they will face if they decide to pursue a career in corrections in Tennessee or any state with the death penalty.

That's especially the case, if they decide to work with inmates on death row or with the team that carries out executions.

At LeMoyne-Owen College, it is my job to help prepare students who want to become law enforcement officers, court personnel professionals, or correctional staff/officials for the realities of the profession.

While my colleagues and I do our best to provide an accurate account, there are limits to how much we can prepare a criminal justice professional to be responsible for taking the life of another, even if it is state-condoned.

The toll that this grave responsibility will take on a person is unpredictable. We have seen this all too clearly when our soldiers return home from battle suffering from great emotional distress.

Tennessee plans to execute Billy Ray Irick on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, after an almost nine-year hiatus with no executions. The state is also planning to use a compounded version of the drug midazolam as part of the lethal injection cocktail, a drug that has caused problematic executions nationwide.

A number of correctional staff/officials have started speaking out about their own experiences of carrying out executions, and the impact their involvement has had on them mentally, emotionally, and physically. Their stories are disturbing.

On Aug. 2, 2018, at Evergreen Presbyterian Church, Frank Thompson will share his experiences as superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary from 1994-1998. In this capacity, he supervised the only 2 executions that the state carried out in the modern era of the death penalty.

When Thompson began his career as superintendent of the prison, he was a death penalty supporter. Today, knowing what the process has done to him and some of his former staff, he no longer supports the death penalty.

In a 2016 opinion piece in The New York Times, Thompson reflected:

"After each execution, I had staff members who decided they did not want to be asked to serve in that capacity again. Others quietly sought employment elsewhere. A few told me they were having trouble sleeping, and I worried they would develop post-traumatic stress disorder if they had to go through it another time.

"Together, we had spent many hours planning and carrying out the deaths of 2 people. The state-ordered killing of a person is premeditated and calculated, and inevitably some of those involved incur collateral damage. I have seen it. It's hard to avoid giving up some of your empathy and humanity to aid in the killing of another human being. The effects can lead to all the places you'd expect: drug use, alcohol abuse, depression and suicide."

I am confident that Tennessee's correctional staff will strive to carry out executions with the utmost professionalism. Additionally, I believe that asking state employees to participate in the killing of another human being is too much of a burden, particularly given the high profile problems with executions using midazolam in other states and the added trauma that a problematic execution can cause.

(source: Opinion; Bruce Cole is director of the Accelerated Studies for Adults and Professionals Criminal Justice Program at LeMoyne-Owen College----"Unintended Consequences: The Death Penalty's Impact on Corrections Staff", a town hall-style event, featuring Frank Thompson, will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, at Evergreen Presbyterian Church, 1567 Overton Park----The Commercial Appeal)

OKLAHOMA:

TV series highlights missteps in Julius Jones' death penalty case

The Last Defense documentary series focuses on death row inmates who seem to be innocent. In episodes 5 through 7, the series presented a powerful case that Julius Jones, a former John Marshall High School honors student, did not receive a fair trial in the horrible 1999 Paul Howell murder case. Jones was subsequently sentenced to death.

The Howell murder was doubly sickening in that he was an innocent family man, shot in his Edmond driveway when the family's Suburban was carjacked; his children were in the backseat at the time. Not surprisingly, the horrific murder prompted a hurried effort to solve the case.

As ABC reported after the murder, "fear was almost palpable" in Edmond. Moreover, this was a time when the Oklahoma County District Attorney, the late Bob Macy, was listed as one of America's top-5 deadliest prosecutors. This meant that there were not enough experienced death penalty-defense lawyers to meet the demand. Jones' lead attorney, David McKenzie, told ABC that he lacked death penalty experience and had an overwhelming case load.

Neither did the jury hear from 2 inmates in the county jail - whose sentences meant they had little or no motivation for lying - who said that co-defendant Christopher "Westside" Jordan told them that he, not Jones, killed Howell.

Defense attorney later admits to doing 'terrible job'

ABC reconstructed the key to the prosecution: how the stolen Suburban was found near the garage of Kermit Lottie, a convicted felon and longtime police informant. Lottie, Jordan and Ladell King, a notorious trafficker in stolen vehicles and an informant, claimed that Jones committed the murder.

A video in a nearby store also showed that Jones was in Lottie's neighborhood around the time that the disposal of the vehicle was discussed. Although he had an explanation as to why he was near the shop, Jones admits that he was wrong to be there, hoping to make some money but not yet knowing of the murder. Last, Jones had 4 witnesses: his parents, brother and sister (the latter 2 were also my students). They claimed that Jones was visiting them when the murder occurred.

None of this exculpatory evidence was presented in court by Jones' defense team. Moreover, his attorney acknowledged to ABC he did a "terrible job" of cross examining Jordan, who had repeatedly contradicted himself.

Free Julius Jones rally

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 31

State Capitol,South Plaza

The documentary also described how Jones' "inexperienced and overwhelmed" defense team made another error. The victim's sister "said the killer's hair stuck out an inch from underneath the stocking cap," but Jones' hair was "closely cut." 2 photos of Jones from that week were not presented to the jury. ABC reported, "Jordan, meanwhile, wore his hair in cornrows that stuck out at the sides." The defense's case was based on cross-examinations, and it was a mistake to just use words instead of presenting the jury with photographic evidence. As the jury foreman told ABC, he doesn't remember anything about hair sticking out.

Murder weapon, bandanna constitute most important evidence

In an article from July 19, ABC quoted Amanda Bass, an assistant federal public defender:

"Both Ladell King and Christopher Jordan were directing the police's attention to the home of Julius Jones' parents as a place that would have incriminating items of evidence," Amanda Bass said. "Chris Jordan was in the back of a police vehicle talking to detectives who were telling people inside the home where to potentially look."

Inside Jones' parents' home, police found a gun wrapped in a red bandanna tucked inside an upstairs crawl space. Jones' attorneys said the evidence police found could have been planted by Jordan the night after the murder.

So, the murder weapon and the killer's bandanna remained hidden in the Jones house until it was found by the police 2 days after the crime. This was also after Jones realized that King had named him as the trigger man. If Jones had committed the homicide, and he knew the murder weapon was in his house, would he have left it there?

Regardless, no definitive link could be made about the gun and the bandanna without a DNA test, which the district attorney's office refused to conduct. (The district attorney's office has subsequently agreed to a DNA test of the bandanna.)

(source: nodoc.com)

NEBRASKA----impending execution

Pfizer responds to Nebraska senator's challenge of use of drugs in execution

It appears Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers has 1 less avenue to stop the Nebraska execution of condemned prisoner Carey Dean Moore in 15 days.

After he challenged Pfizer pharmaceutical company Friday to use the courts to block the use of any of its restricted-use drugs in the possession of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, the company responded Monday.

ďOur records do not show any sales of any restricted products to the Nebraska Department of Corrections," said Pfizer spokesman Steven Danehy.

But just in case, the drug company asked the department again to return any Pfizer restricted products.

The department has not responded to open-records requests by the Lincoln Journal Star, the Omaha World-Herald, other media and ACLU of Nebraska to reveal the sources of the drugs it plans to use in Moore's execution. Nor has it complied with a Nebraska district court judge's order to give the 2 newspapers and the ACLU certain records related to lethal injection drug suppliers.

Another drug company, Alvogen, successfully filed a legal objection in Nevada this month to stop one of its drugs, the sedative midazolam, from being used in an execution. That execution did not take place as scheduled.

The Nebraska department has told Moore it plans to use four drugs, never before used in combination in an execution, in putting him to death. Those drugs are fentanyl, a powerful opiate painkiller; diazepam, which is the anxiety reliever Valium; cisatracurium besylate, a muscle relaxer; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Meanwhile, a 2nd pharmaceutical company has joined a lawsuit to stop Nevada from using 1 of its drugs in the state's execution of 2-time murderer Scott Dozier.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a district judge Monday approved the July 24 motion filed by Hikma Pharmaceuticals, maker of the synthetic opiate fentanyl, to intervene in a lawsuit previously filled by Alvogen.

Also, a "friend of the court" brief was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on July 23 by the Association for Accessible Medicines, which represents generic drug manufacturers, in connection with a challenge by a death row inmate in Missouri.

The brief argued that manufacturers overwhelmingly oppose the use of their products for lethal injections, and that no prescription drug has been tested or approved by regulators at the high doses typically employed in an execution protocol. Nor is lethal injection a medically accepted off-label use of the powerful injectable drugs used as part of execution protocols, the brief said.

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)

NEVADA:

Fentanyl maker joins lawsuit to block Nevada execution plan

A maker of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl joined a bid Monday to block the use of its product in what would be the 1st execution in Nevada in more than 12 years using a 3-drug combination never before tried in any state.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA overcame sharp objections from the state to win a judge's OK to intervene in New Jersey-based Alvogen's lawsuit seeking to stop the use of an Alvogen sedative for the twice-postponed execution of twice-convicted killer Scott Raymond Dozier.

"It's ironic that the maker of fentanyl, which is at the center of the nation's opioid crisis and is responsible for illegal overdoses every day is going to ... claim reputational injury from being associated with a lawful execution," Deputy Nevada state Solicitor General Jordan T. Smith protested.

Hikma attorney Kristen Martini cited what she called "the identical legal issues, the duplicate claims and substantially similar factual background alleged by Alvogen and Hikma" in gaining entry into the case.

The companies share "common questions of law and fact," Martini argued, in contentions that they publicly declared they didn't want their products used in executions and that Nevada improperly obtained their drugs for the planned lethal injection.

Alvogen attorney Todd Bice did not object to Hikma joining the case.

The lawsuit is on a speedy track toward a possible mid-November execution date, after the Nevada Supreme Court last week agreed to quickly consider the state's appeal of Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez's final-hours decision to delay the July 11 execution so she could consider Alvogen's case.

Gonzalez is scheduled to begin hearing arguments in September.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt's office said in Supreme Court filings that a high court ruling is needed by Oct. 19, or useful prison stocks of a needed drug, the muscle paralyzing agent cisatracurium, will expire.

The maker of that drug, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, is still deciding whether to join the Alvogen-Hikma case, said Colby Williams, an attorney representing the Novartis subsidiary.

Nevada wants to use the Alvogen sedative midazolam to render Dozier unconscious, then administer a lethal dose of fentanyl to slow his breathing and follow with cisatracurium to ensure that breathing stops.

The expiration of drugs would set state prison officials back to the beginning of a planning process that has made Nevada a model of the trouble that many of the 31 U.S. states with the death penalty have had in recent years obtaining drugs for lethal injections.

Nevada last conducted a lethal injection in April 2006.

Dozier, 47, has said repeatedly that he wants to die and doesn't care if he suffers. He is not appealing his convictions for separate killings of drug trade associates in Phoenix and Las Vegas in 2002. He has been on death row since 2007.

(source: Associated Press)

NEW ZEALAND:

The 2nd to last man to be executed in New Zealand

[Tina Shaw reviews Fiona Kidman's powerful and haunting new novel based on the short life and brutal death of Albert Black, hanged at Mt Eden jail in 1955.]

Fiona Kidman is adept at casting her imagination into the past and bringing to life significant characters and times. She stepped back to the Sydney and New Zealand of 1834 in her novel The Captive Wife, while The Infinite Air reimagined the rise and fall of aviator Jean Batten. In her latest novel, This Mortal Boy, Kidman explores the story of the "jukebox killer", as Albert Black was sensationally described in 1955.

Black was a mere 20-years-old when he was convicted of murder and then hanged at Mount Eden prison. He killed a man at Ye Old Barn cafe in Auckland by putting a knife in his neck. But it's still unclear whether the murder of Johnny was premeditated or an accident.

The story is told strongly in Black's favour. He's a child migrant who sees himself as an outsider in New Zealand, yearning to be back in Ireland. During the war, it was just him and his mum during the bombing raids. He's a good brother to Daniel, a good mate to his friend Peter. There are regrets that he didn't turn away Johnny McBride when he had the chance. He falls in love with Bessie, a girl who looks like Grace Kelly. "He'd told her she was his girl, the only one." And Black has plans for the future.

But mostly he's portrayed as being young; as barely having made a scratch on the world.

Kidman sustains narrative tension as the trial moves on inexorably, an appeal hearing takes place, and Black's girlfriend brings significant news to Black late in the piece. There's a tragic inevitability to his story. It was a time when old ways were being challenged by the new and Kidman portrays the social climate of the 1950s as having clear demarcation lines: the older, traditional values on one side - as seen in characters such as Rita's Dalmatian mother - and young people, so-called bodgies and widgies on the other. The infamous Mazengarb Report rears its ugly head: "Moral panic had seized the country as word spread of an epidemic of loose behaviour by teenagers." The word "carnal" is bandied about. Condoms are banned for young people.

One might almost say that the narrow-minded and conservative attitudes that Kidman portrays during this period could lead to no other outcome for young Albert Black. There's a sense that he's a kind of scapegoat for a generation that authority figures simply don't understand. In this respect, Kidman has taken the trial as a kicking-off point to delve into the social fabric of the 50s.

An engaging aspect of this novel is Kidman's portrayal of the wide circle of individuals who are affected by Black's conviction and trial. There's Haywood, the prison supervisor, who has to prepare the condemned man. He should be at home with his wife but instead spends long evenings in his office drinking whiskey. "Once he had believed in God." But God has obviously forsaken not only Albert Black but Haywood as well.

Black's lawyer is similarly haunted. He looks at his grown sons and imagines how easily things can go wrong. "Once, he would have wished them to follow the law, as he has done, but now he hopes they will not. The law, as it stands at this moment, seems cruel and unjust."

By contrast, Rita Zilich, who gives evidence at the trial, is a fairly typical teenager: "Her mother can't imagine how hungry she is to feel alive."

Then there's the all-male jury, put up at the-then swanky Station Hotel on Symonds St - overlooking the railway station "like Grand Central in New York, as proud locals have it."

Black's parents, back in Belfast, must deal by distance with the news of their son's terrible predicament. His mother Kathleen yearns to be with her son, but is discouraged by Minister of Justice Jack Marshall. The government doesn't want a mother protesting her son's innocence, and Marshall is a supporter of the death penalty: "Murderers, all of them. And, frankly, if you want my opinion, we could do without these deplorable migrants."

It's clear where Kidman's sympathies lie, and her portrayal of Black as a youth who makes an awful mistake is a heartbreaking one. Her cast includes Black's friends who were at Ye Old Barn cafe that night, and give varying accounts of the incident that took place. The muddled recollection of events is chillingly depicted. As the trial unfolds, and events of that evening are narrated, it's obvious that the picture is a confused one.

And how much might the jury have been influenced by a newspaper report condemning the accused man? Kidman has created a fictional jury that also draws on her own experience sitting on a jury to show how entrenched attitudes and prejudices might lead to a young man being convicted of murder. It's bloody convincing.

The courtroom scenes are also moving, especially the eloquent closing address: "You have before you this mortal boy, one who has made a mistake, unintended, but a mistake nonetheless, with terrible consequences." The tragedy of the trial is that such an argument falls on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, back in Belfast, Black's mother is collecting signatures for a petition for clemency to present to the New Zealand government. The community stands behind the family, but her effort comes to nothing in the end. Although the reader knows the outcome of this story beforehand, Kidman still manages to create the ghost of hope that somehow Black will get off after all.

This very human novel is as good an argument as you'll ever find for the abolition of capital punishment.

This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (Penguin Random House, $38) is available at Unity Books.

(source: thespinoff.co.nz)

INDIA:

India death penalty: Does it actually deter rape?

India's lower house of parliament passed a bill on Monday that will see the death penalty handed out to anyone convicted of raping a child under 12.

The amendment to the Prevention Of Child Sex Offences (Pocso) act was made at the behest of Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who said she believed this would deter sexual crimes against children.

It came soon after a series of high-profile cases against children, including the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Indian-administered Kashmir, and the more recent rape of a young girl in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

India's official crime data show the number of reported rapes of children increased from 8,541 in 2012 to 19,765 in 2016.

In 2013, following the outrage over the rape and murder of a medical student aboard a moving bus in the capital Delhi, the government announced that the death penalty would be applicable to those convicted of rape resulting in death.

The new amendments will enable a court to hand out a death penalty to someone convicted of raping a child under 12, even if it does not result in death.

Despite these changes to the law, however, India is a country that is reluctant to carry out the death penalty. It is currently prescribed only for the "rarest of rare" cases - the interpretation of which is left to the court. The country's last execution was on 30 July 2015.

Although welcomed by many, the new amendment has also been criticised by a number of activists who have questioned whether the death penalty is really an effective deterrent.

This is a question that has been debated around the world - does toughening the sentence actually reduce crimes? Some evidence from neighbouring countries would suggest otherwise.

Deterrent to conviction?

Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan all hand out the death penalty for rape and many Indians in favour of the death penalty often point to these countries as those who "do not tolerate rape". A common narrative is also that there are fewer incidents of rape in these countries.

Experts in the region say that a major argument against imposing the death penalty for rape is that it actually deters the system from handing out convictions.

"Even though under the law, rape is treated on a par with terror, nothing has changed. Rape and gang rape cases are progressively increasing while conviction rates remain abysmally low," Zainab Malik, of the Lahore-based not-for-profit legal rights firm Justice Project Pakistan, told the BBC.

She says that it is because the "police are biased against women and are hesitant to even register cases of gang rape as that would mean the death penalty for a group of men. To circumvent that, often the case would be registered against one man only."

Activists in the country say that in many cases police tend to broker compromises, encouraging survivors, under threat or coercion, to withdraw their complaint, so that the accused is set free on the basis of "low probability of conviction".

This has become a similar concern in Bangladesh, where the parliament brought in the Oppression of Women and Children (Special Provisions) Act in 1995 to facilitate stringent punishments, including the death penalty for crimes such as rape, gang rape, acid attacks and trafficking of children.

But here again, the severity of the punishments meant many of the accused walked free due to "insufficient evidence" and because there was no option of a less harsh sentence.

'Added burden for victims'

This concern has been voiced by many Indian activists who oppose the death penalty for rape.

"Under-reporting is a problem because the perpetrators are mostly known to the victims and there are all sorts of dynamics at play that cause victims and their guardians to not report the crime," said Dr Anup Surendranath, the executive director of Project 39A, a social justice organisation.

He added that, in such a context, the death penalty could be a "further burden" since victims will have to grapple with the possibility of "sending a person they know to the gallows".

Another issue is that, in many rural areas in particular, there is still massive stigma associated with rape, which means that even stronger laws do not encourage victims to come forward.

"Ours is a society where discussion of child sexual abuse is taboo. There is a culture of silence that pervades our homes and our institutions in addressing this issue with the seriousness it deserves," Dr Surendranath said.

India has amended its laws to increase accountability of police and other officials dealing with violence against women, which has had a positive impact.

But the change is slow and studies suggest that a large number of rapes in India still go unreported.

Mohammad Musa Mahmodi, executive director of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which also publishes data on rape, said the death penalty on its own would never be enough to deter rape or encourage women to seek help in the justice system.

A 2012 report by Human Rights Watch on Afghanistan says: "Rather than finding support from police, judicial institutions, and government officials, women who try to flee abusive situations often face apathy, derision, and criminal sanctions for committing moral crimes."

'Years spent waiting for justice' The slow pace of the justice system has also been cited as an issue.

Long-drawn-out trials in India often mean that victims have to wait years before they can get justice. And in cases where the death penalty has been handed out, those convicted have many chances to appeal against their sentence.

The men convicted in India's most high-profile rape case in recent years - of a medical student who died of her injuries after being raped in December 2012 - are still appealing against the death penalties handed out by a "fast-track" trial court that in September 2013.

Their last appeal was turned down by the Supreme Court in July, but they still have the option of appealing to the president.

Another consequence of a prolonged legal process is that it often adds to the victim's suffering.

These experiences clearly suggest that punishments like the death penalty can potentially have a negative impact on the survivor's access to justice.

Robust laws would in fact have a very limited impact in reducing the crime unless they are accompanied with a change in the attitudes of the police, judiciary, government officers and society.

(source: BBC News)

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

Owaisi quoted a court ruling saying that death penalty cannot be justified on the grounds of retribution, proposition or deterrence.

MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday opposed the Criminal Law Amendment Bill. He said if it was passed India will become like Saudi Arabia, Iran and China and even Sharia might follow.

"Good luck to you. Sharia is on the way. An MLA has said that a mother of 3 can be raped. The legislators here stood for the perpetrators of crime. What we require is change in the mindset of men.

The equation of power which men feel they enjoy should change. The government is supporting the perpetrators of child rape and all other efforts are mere eyewash," he said.

Mr Owaisi quoted a court ruling saying that death penalty cannot be justified on the grounds of retribution, proposition or deterrence. "Let me remind the government what was said by Delhi High court judge Justice Geeta Mittal. She had asked the government whether it knew what the root cause of rape was. Was any scientific study done to ascertain whether death penalty will prove to be a deterrent for rapist? How many victims will be left alive when the punishment for rape and murder are the same? This was the view of the judge," he said.

Even the Justice Verma committee did not recommend death penalty for rape. The Law Commission also favours death penalty only for terror, he said.

(source: Deccan Chronicle)

JAPAN:

As cultists are hanged, Japan asks if it still needs death penalty. For most, the answer remains clear

The recent executions of 13 Aum Shumrikyo cultists stirred a debate and some condemnation - but a large majority of Japanese still appear to support capital punishment

The execution of the last members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult on death row last week has triggered debate in Japan over the use of the death penalty, with the left-leaning Asahi newspaper demanding that Tokyo follow the lead of European nations and abolish hanging and author Haruki Murakami weighing in on the discussion.

The vast majority of Japanese people, however, appear to be solidly behind the death penalty for those convicted of serious crimes, such as the sarin gas attack that Aum members carried out on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995.

In an editorial on Friday, just hours after the final six Aum members were hanged, the Asahi newspaper declared the executions to be "shocking". 3 weeks earlier, Aum founder Shoko Asahara and 6 other followers had met the same fate.

"The news has come as a fresh reminder of how Japan has been left far behind in the global trend concerning the issue," the editorial stated, repeating the joint statement issued by the European Union on July 26, in which it called for a moratorium on the death penalty because it is "cruel and inhuman and fails to act as a deterrent to crime."

A spokesman for Amnesty International said "The taking of a life in retribution is never the answer.

"It is high time for the Japanese authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on all executions and promote an informed debate on the death penalty as first steps towards its abolition."

Murakami, who interviewed dozens of survivors of the sarin attack and relatives of those who died for his book Underground, wrote in an editorial for the Mainichi newspaper that he is opposed to the death penalty because it is wrong for the state to kill and there are numerous documented case of wrongful convictions.

Murakami bends his own rules in the very next paragraph, however, to say that he saw the misery the sarin attacks had inflicted on thousands of people. After witnessing their "sadness, agony and fresh anger with my own eyes, I cannot publicly state, as far as this case is concerned, 'I am opposed to the death penalty'."

The Japanese government has brushed off international criticism of its retention of the death penalty and insists that more than 80 per cent of the Japanese public supports hanging for heinous crimes.

"Of course we should keep the death penalty," said Kanako Hosomura, who was a young girl in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, at the height of the public panic over The Little Girl Murders in the late 1980s.

4 girls, aged between 4 and 7, were abducted in the space of 10 months from August 1988, raped, killed and mutilated by Tsutomu Miyazaki. He dismembered the girls, kept some of their limbs as trophies, drank their blood and cooked and ate other parts of their bodies. He cremated some of the girls' remains and posted them in boxes to their parents, adding taunting notes.

Miyazaki was executed in June 2008.

"There are some people who are just evil and nothing will change that, I believe," Hosomura said. "I'm a mother and I cannot begin to understand how the parents of his victims felt.

"There is no point in a person like that staying alive and wasting taxpayers' money by sitting in prison for the rest of his life," she said. "I feel the same way about the Aum cult members; they felt no remorse for the people they killed. Or maybe they did after they were caught."

Yoichi Shimada, a professor at Fukui Prefectural University, says it is not important whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent.

"I believe that retribution is necessary in order to maintain stability in society and show that justice is being carried out," he said. "When the crime is so vicious and there is no other way for the individual to atone for his actions, then the death penalty is completely appropriate."

(source: The Korea Times)

KENYA:

Panel seeks substitution of death penalty with life imprisonment

The taskforce on the review of the mandatory death sentence is seeking the substitution of the penalty with life imprisonment with eligibility for parole.

According to Anne Okutoyi, a member of the task force representing the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, judges will however have the discretion to impose the death sentence in cases where victims are vulnerable under a new legislative reform to be fronted by the Office of the Attorney General.

"The taskforce proposes life imprisonment with various terms of eligibility for parole depending on various (aggravating) circumstances and mitigating factors that an offender can present before a judicial officer," she said during a session with members of the media and other stakeholders on Tuesday.

Okutoyi noted that the new proposal which is among a raft of measures being fronted by the taskforce is in line with a Supreme Court ruling issued in December last year which found the death sentence to be unconstitutional to the extent of its mandatory nature.

The death sentence however remains enshrined in statutes leaving judges with discretion to impose it in aggravating cases.

"We propose that in serious cases - and we shall have clarity on what these serious cases shall be - then a judicial officer shall have the discretion to impose upon the death penalty," Okutoyi, member of the Maryann Njau-Kimani-led taskforce pointed out.

According to the taskforce which was gazetted by then Attorney General Githu Muigai on March 15, terms of parole would vary depending on the magnitude of the offence for which the convict is serving life imprisonment.

Under the current legal framework, those serving life-long detention can only be set free under the president's prerogative of mercy upon recommendation by the Power of Mercy Committee headed by the Attorney General.

Kenya commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment in 2009 prior to which no executions had been carried out with the exception of Hezekiah Ochuka and Pancras Okumu who were in 1987 hanged for treason following an attempt to overthrow the government.

The proposal by the Njau-Kimani-led taskforce to have the death sentence retained for judicial discretion in aggravating circumstances was however objected to by Amnesty International Kenya.

Amnesty instead suggested an overhaul of the corrective system as the country moves towards the abolishment of mandatory death sentencing.

The agency's Executive Director Irungu Houghton told Capital FM News on the sidelines of a media forum on the review of the mandatory death sentence that the penalty needed to be abolished in totality and replaced with a clear rehabilitative correctional system.

"The death penalty is among contentious issues globally, the others being euthanasia and abortion. Fortunately for us we are beginning to have a conversation on other means of sentencing," he said.

"What we (Amnesty) think should happen is that we need to look at our corrective and penal systems to make sure prisons are able to rehabilitate and correct violent offenders in a way that they do not pose harm to the society nor the State," Houghton explained.

He argued the death penalty was prone to abuse with the finality of the sentence making restitution of convicts in light of fresh evidence impossible.

"This sentence is open to misuse because there are cases where people have been hanged then you later realize they were not guilty of the offence," he said.

"This penalty is final, you cannot rehabilitate someone and you may not be able to have a retrial. We need to think about how we manage life imprisonment in a manner that keeps the society safe but provide an opportunity for rehabilitation," he outlined.

Houghton underscored the importance of the creation of a deterrent penalty to ensure an effective criminal justice system.

"It is critical that the State and the public are not rendered vulnerable by the removal of the death penalty," he stated.

The debate on death row was ignited in the recent weeks when High Court Judge, Jessie Lesiit sentenced a middle-aged lady to death after she was convicted of stabbing her boyfriend to death.

In her ruling on July 19, Lady Justice Lesiit said she had exercised judicial discretion in sentencing the former Lang'ata Women's Prison beauty queen Ruth Kamande to death saying she had shown no remorse during trial.

"In my view, the discretion to pass a sentence other than death in capital offences should only be exercised in deserving cases. I do not find this a deserving case and I think passing any other sentence than the one prescribed would turn the accused into a hero," she ruled.

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

Death penalty taskforce holds open forum as debate rages

The Taskforce on the Review of the Mandatory Nature of the Death Penalty that was appointed by the Attorney General in March is on Tuesday due to hold an open forum on the controversial issue.

In the Supreme Court Ruling of December 14 last year, the Attorney General was given 12 months within which to come up with proposals aligned to the recommendations contained in the Supreme Court Ruling that abolished the mandatory nature of the death penalty in Section 204 of the Penal Code Act.

During the meeting, the meaning and implication of the Supreme Court ruling will be discussed together will all members of the taskforce.

These include the Judiciary, the Prisons and Correctional Services, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the National Assembly, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kenya Law Reform Commission, among others.

Other than the legislative framework, the task force being chaired by Maryann Njau-Kimani will set up a framework to deal with rehearing of sentencing of persons on death row as directed by the Supreme Court in December last year.

In the landmark judgment, 6 judges of the Supreme Court found that the mandatory nature of the death sentence as provided for under Section 204 of the Penal Code is unconstitutional.

The court led by Chief Justice David Maraga, Deputy CJ Philomena Mwilu, Justices Jackton Ojwang', Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung'u and Isaac Lenaola, said a person facing the death sentence is most deserving to be heard in mitigation because of the finality of the sentence.

According to the judges, during mitigation, the offender's version of events may be heavy with pathos necessitating the court to consider an aspect that may have been unclear during the trial process.

(source for both: capitalfm.co.ke)

NIGERIA:

4 Policemen Sentenced To Death By Hanging In Uyo Akwa Ibom State For Killing Okada Rider

4 policemen have been sentenced to death in Akwa Ibom State for killing a commercial motorcyclist otherwise called Okada rider in Uyo, the state capital. The convicted policemen are Inspector Moses Akpaete, Inspector Idoko Sampson, Corporal Enobong Udo and Corporal Godwin Nnanna, all attached to C Division.

The presiding judge, Justice Ifiok Ukana, found the policemen guilty of conspiracy in the murder of Mr. Felix Akpan of Ibiakpan in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibmo State. The incident occurred on Abak Road by Federal Secretariat, Uyo on October 16, 2016 when the policemen on patrol fired at the motorcyclist, who refused to stop when they accosted him for operating at the prohibited area of the city. The killing caused public outrage leading to the arrest and prosecution of the policemen.

The convicts admitted that one of them fired at the motorcyclist because they were attacked by mob while attempting to arrest Akpan. But in his submission, Justice Ukana said there was no evidence that the policemen acted in self-defence as they were not attacked by the fleeing cyclist or any mob.

The judge noted that the decision of the policemen to flee from the scene of the incident after the shooting showed that they were united in their intention to kill Akpan. According to him, the law is clear on the penalty which awaits any person who commits or conspires to commit such heinous crime whether principal or accessory to the crime.

The judge prayed God to have mercy upon the souls of the convicted policemen.

(source: withinnigeria.com)

TANZANIA:

Relief As Man Facing Death Penalty Gets Lesser Sentence

The Court of Appeal has substituted the death sentence imposed on a man accused of killing his fellow villager for manslaughter.

Mashaka Mbezi was accused of killing Mr Simon Muhamali after he allegedly was provoked by him. Mbezi suspected him of having a love affair with his wife.

But, the appellant will remain behind bars for five years after the Court of Appeal quashed the death sentence imposed on him having substituted it for manslaughter.

During trial before the High Court, the appellant's wife confirmed to have a love affair with Mr Muhamali, which the appellant relied on as his defence that he was provoked.

Although Justices Kipenka Mussa, Augustine Mwarija and Richard Mziray could not fault the High Court's findings to reject the appellant's defence in their judgment delivered in Dodoma recently, there were other circumstances casting doubts on the prosecution's evidence.

The appellant did not deny to have killed Mr Muhamali, but he was quick to point out that he did so under provocation and he clearly indicated the circumstances leading to the killing of his fellow villager in his cautioned and extra-judicial statements he recorded before the police.

"For some obscure cause, the prosecution did not pick the cue and did not venture to produce the cautioned statement, which obviously, was within its reach.

Neither was the extra-judicial statement sought and produced as earlier promised by the prosecution," the justices noted. According to them, if eventually, upon a second thought, the prosecution did not wish to rely on the documents, the appropriate option was for it to offer them for use of the defence at the close of the prosecution case.

They pointed out that the prosecution did not take that option and continued to withhold the documents for no cause at all. As a result, the justices were constrained under section 122 of the Evidence Act to adversely infer that the contents of the withheld cautioned and extra-judicial 626470001 statements would have tended against the prosecution.

They resolved, therefore, that as they were denied knowledge of the contents of the documents they could neither tell their impact on the case nor could they say with certainty that the killing in the case at hand was with malice aforethought.

"Given the lingering doubts, we would, without hesitation, accord the appellant the benefit of doubt and decline to uphold the conviction for murder, which is quashed and substituted for manslaughter," the justices said in their judgement.

They added in the judgment dated July 18, 2018 that, "having taken into account the period spent by the appellant in custody, we think the prison sentence of five years from the date thereof will meet the justice of the case."

Facts show that the appellant committed the offence on March 17, 2012, at Mgunga Village in Dodoma.

It was alleged that on the fateful day at about 11.00am or so, Mr Muhamali and several others were drinking local brew in the village.

(source: allafrica.com)

CHINA:

Killer author who murdered 4 people 23 years ago then wrote acclaimed novels 'inspired by the case' is sentenced to death in China

An award-winning Chinese author has been sentenced to death 23 years after murdering 4 people, including a family of 3, for money.

The 53-year-old criminal, Liu Yongbiao, and an accomplice robbed and killed the victims in a family-run guesthouse before living as free men for more than 2 decades.

During the time, Liu became an acclaimed author in China. In a previous interview with China Central Television Station, Liu confessed that some of his novels were inspired by his thoughts about the murder.

But Liu did not dare to create any characters based on the people he had killed, he told a reporter from the China Central Television Station last year.

Liu also admitted that the bloody scenes and gory details had haunted him throughout the years and the feeling was 'worse than dying'.

Liu and his accomplice, named by the court as Wang, were both given a death penalty today during a trial in Huzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, according to the court.

The shocking murder took place on November 29 in 1995. The victims included 1 lodger, an elderly couple who owned the guesthouse and their grandson.

The case remained unsolved and a mystery for 22 years due to the lack of evidence.

Chinese police told the China Central Television that the guesthouse had failed to keep any information of their guests, which made it impossible for the police to track down the suspects in the populous nation. In addition, there was no CCTV cameras anywhere in the guesthouse.

While recalling the killing, Liu told the reporter that he and Wang used rope, clubs and hammers.

He said the details of the murder were 'so cruel' that he should 'die 100 times' for what he had done.

He also confessed that he and Wang killed the lodger, who shared a room with them, because he looked wealthy. However, he said in the end they only found a watch, a ring and more than 10 yuan (1 pound) cash on him.

Liu was interviewed in a prison last August after he was arrested by Huzhou police who had found DNA evidence.

The crucial DNA traces were obtained in June last year when police relaunched the investigation using genetic test technology. The evidence was extracted from the saliva on a cigarette butt found at the scene.

With the DNA information, the police travelled across 15 provinces in China in a bid to find the suspects. They compared the evidence to the data of more than 60,000 people within the space of 2 months.

Police made a breakthrough when they were informed that the DNA evidence matched the record of a clan with the surname Liu in Nanling, Anhui Province.

Huzhou police travelled to Nanling to visit the clan. After talking to the residents and working with the local police, they locked down Liu Yongbiao as a suspect.

On August 8, officers in plain clothes convinced Liu to provide his saliva for a DNA test after telling him that they were researching about the residents' family trees.

He said he sent his daughter and wife away while waiting for the DNA result. He also called his accomplice Wang, who lived in Shanghai, and told him they should face their fate.

2 days later, a lab test confirmed that Liu's DNA matched with the DNA traces on the cigarette.

At the wee hours of August 11, Liu was arrested at his home in Nanling. A few hours later, Wang was arrested at his home in Shanghai.

Liu Yongbiao, simply referred to by the court as Liu, and his accomplice Wang received their death penalty today at the Intermediate People's Court of Huzhou.

The court found Liu and Wang guilty of robbery and homicide at first instance.

The court said though both suspects had admitted to their charges, their crimes were especially serious and brought significance consequences to the society.

Therefore, the court decided to sentence them to death.

The court did not mention if the 2 planned to appeal against the ruling.

(source: dailymail.co.uk)

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:

Lover faces firing squad over best friend's murder in Dubai----Victimís wife jailed for life for abetting lover to kill her husband after adulterous affair

A lover, who killed his best friend and set his body on fire after having an adulterous affair with his wife, lost his last appeal on Monday and faces a firing squad.

The 32-year-old lover, from Comoros Islands, lured his countryman best friend to a car, struck him with a rock, mowed him down and killed him before setting him on fire in October 2016.

In June, the Dubai Appeal Court confirmed the death sentence against the 32-year-old accused and also lengthened the wife's punishment from 15 years in jail to life imprisonment.

The wife was convicted of abetting her lover in premeditatedly murdering her husband by running him over and burning his body.

The 2 defendants appealed their appellate judgements before Dubai's highest court and sought to have a reduced punishment.

Prosecutors also appealed their appellate judgements and sought to have them upheld by the Dubai Cassation Court.

On Monday, presiding judge Abdul Aziz Abdullah rejected the convicts' appeal and upheld the capital punishment against the 32-year-old defendant and the life sentence of the 23-year-old wife.

The 2 accused pleaded not guilty and asked for a reduced punishment.

The 32-year-old contended in his appeal that the wife incited and provoked him to kill her husband.

Court records said the convicted woman will be deported following the completion of her punishment.

Meanwhile the 32-year-old convict will face a shooting squad once the capital punishment gets approved by the ruler.

A watchman saw the husband's body on fire near a warehouse in Al Ghusais and alerted Dubai Police and the Civil Defence.

The victim's body was found to have been completely burnt when law enforcement officers arrived at the crime scene.

The duo were tried before the Dubai Misdemeanours Court for having unwedded sex.

Police interrogations revealed that the 23-year-old wife and her 32-year-old countryman lover had conspired to kill the husband.

The wife had been having a sexual affair with the victim, who was his best friend.

The male convict lured his best friend [husband] to his car, tied his hands and legs and then pounded his head with a rock, said records.

When he noticed that the victim was still breathing, he struck his head repeatedly on the car and ran his vehicle over him several times. Then he took the body to an area in front of the warehouse where he set it on fire after dousing it with petrol.

The victim's 85-year-old father said his son had been married to the 22-year-old woman for 4 years and they shared his accommodation with their 2 children.

"When I asked my daughter-in-law about her husband's whereabouts, she told me that he went to the beach. The next day she claimed that he did not show up and that he had not answered her calls," claimed the father.

The Indian watchman, who found the burnt body, testified that the victim was already dead when he called up the police at 11pm.

A police major said the wife admitted that she had an illicit affair with her husband's friend [the male accused] for 2 years.

"She said due to constant quarrels with her husband, she and her lover decided to get rid of the victim. The 22-year-old said she had planned with her accomplice to stage a fight with her husband and then the 32-year-old would intervene to resolve the dispute between them before they carry out their murderous intention," the major said.

Dubai Police's forensic examiner said the victim had already died before he was set on fire.

The ruling is final.

(source: Gulf News)

JULY 30, 2018:

NORTH CAROLINA:

Motion: Prosecutors used race in jury selection in Winston-Salem murder trial involving killing of Kmart security guard

A Forsyth County man on death row for killing a Kmart security guard in 1994 alleges prosecutors used a training document to hide the fact that they considered race in striking 5 potential jurors during his trial.

Russell William Tucker, 51, was convicted in February 1996 of 1st-degree murder in the death of Maurice Travone Williams. Tucker was accused of shooting Williams in the chest on Dec. 8, 1994, after Tucker walked out of the Kmart store in clothing Williams believed Tucker had stolen.

According to testimony, Tucker shot at one security guard and missed. Williams turned and ran, and Tucker shot Williams in the chest, with the bullet piercing Williams' aorta and both lungs. Tucker fired 5 times into a police car as he ran away. 1 officer was wounded.

On Feb. 21, 1996, Tucker was sentenced to death, but the N.C. Supreme Court stayed his execution in 2000 after one of his appellate attorneys admitted that he intentionally botched Tucker's appeal. Tucker currently has a pending appeal in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of North Carolina as well as a separate appeal in Forsyth Superior Court. His attorneys filed a brief on his behalf on Thursday. It was a response to court papers filed in May by a prosecutor with the N.C. Attorney General's Office.

The crux of his latest appeal in Forsyth Superior Court is in a document entitled "Batson Justifications: Articulating Juror Negatives." "Batson" refers to a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said prosecutors cannot get rid of potential jurors solely based on race. The decision involved the use of what are known as peremptory challenges, where prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys can remove a potential juror without giving a reason. A criminal defense attorney can object based on the Supreme Court decision if that attorney believes prosecutors are using race in removing jurors. And if asked by a judge, prosecutors have the opportunity to give a non-racial reason for removing the juror.

The problem, according to Tucker's attorneys, is that prosecutors didn't really have non-racial reasons for removing every 1 of the 5 black people in the jury pool for Tucker's trial. And that's where the document comes into play.

Elizabeth Hambourger and Mark Pickett, Tucker's attorney, say the 2 Forsyth County prosecutors in the case - David Spence and Robert Lang - lifted language from the document when they gave their reasons in court for why they removed the black jurors. Words and phrases such as "inappropriate," "monosyllabic," "body language," or a juror having "no stake in the community" came directly from the "Batson" document and were used as justifications for getting rid of black jurors, they argued.

Attorneys for the N.C. Attorney General's Office deny those allegations in court papers, arguing that the trial record clearly shows that race was not a factor in jury selection and that the "Batson" document simply re-enforced to prosecutors that they are not to consider race when deciding to remove a potential juror. Lang, now an Assistant U.S. Attorney, declined to comment. Spence, a prosecutor in Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties, did not respond to a message left at his office Friday. Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill said he cannot comment on a pending case.

Document in Racial Justice Act litigation

Hambourger and Pickett said in court papers that they wouldn't have found the document if it had not been for litigation surrounding the now-repealed Racial Justice Act. The Racial Justice Act became law in 2009, and more than 90 % of death-row inmates filed claims under the law. The act allowed death-row inmates to challenge their death sentences if they believed racial bias played a role in their case. If they were successful, they could get their death sentences commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Republican state legislators repealed the Racial Justice Act in 2013, but there is still pending litigation.

Errol Duke Moses, another death-row inmate from Forsyth County, also filed a claim. Under the law, inmates were allowed to use statistics and evidence from other cases to prove a pattern of racial discrimination. A judge ordered Forsyth County prosecutors to turn over their files in other death-penalty cases to Moses' attorneys. That included Tucker's case.

And the "Batson" document was contained in those documents. State prosecutors said Tucker could have found that document earlier. 2 previous attorneys for Tucker filed sworn affidavits saying that they did not see the "Batson" document in previous discovery.

"The Batson Justifications document is central to Tucker's claim because it places the prosecutor's strike justifications in their true context," Hambourger and Pickett write in a brief filed Thursday. "The existence of the document in the prosecutor's file and the prosecutor's use on the record of words and phrases obviously taken directly from the document show that the prosecutor did not have valid race-neutral reasons for his strikes - if he did, he would not have needed to refer to a list of prefabricated reasons prepared by someone else long before trial."

The use of the document by Lang shows that prosecutors were intentionally discriminating against blacks in jury selection, they said.

"The document does not purport to train prosecutors on how to avoid bias in jury selections, or otherwise suggest alternate strategies to use that might avoid the taint of racial discrimination," they write. "Rather, it quite openly directs prosecutors to use certain pre-packaged excuses when they face an objection for removing black ... members."

They said this is just one example of a long historical pattern of Forsyth County prosecutors disproportionately excluding blacks from juries. They cite a Michigan State University study, which was used in the majority of Racial Justice Act claims. That study said that from 1990 to 2010, Forsyth County prosecutors removed potential black jurors at a rate 2.25 times higher than they got rid of other jurors in death penalty cases.

A recent study by three law professors at Wake Forest University found that in 2011, Forsyth County prosecutors struck potential black jurors from all types of jury trials at three times the rate they struck white potential jurors. That rate was higher than Durham, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Fayetteville, according to the motion.

Danielle Marquis Elder, a senior state prosecutor with the N.C. Attorney General's Office, denied those allegations in a written response filed in May in Forsyth Superior Court. She argues that Tucker should have raised these issues in earlier appeals and should not be allowed to raise them now.

Elder also argued that Lang laid out reasons not contained in the "Batson" document for why he removed certain black jurors, including that 1 juror had fallen asleep. Another black juror was consistently vague about whether he supported the death penalty.

Hambourger and Pickett said that Lang removed black jurors but allowed white jurors to remain, even though the white jurors were just as vague about their support of the death penalty as the black jurors.

(source: Winston-Salem Journal)

LOUISIANA:

Gov. Edwards dodging questions on death penalty delivers easy target for AG Landry

With a less-than-firm position on Louisiana's use of the death penalty, Gov. John Bel Edwards has given his regular sparring partner, Attorney General Jeff Landry, a foothold to needle the governor in the summer's political doldrums.

Landry, a Republican considered a possible challenger to Edwards next year, suggests the Democratic governor's lackluster support for Louisiana's use of capital punishment keeps Edwards from pressing to carry out Louisiana's pending executions.

And Edwards' lukewarm response to questions about his personal position on whether the death penalty is an appropriate form of punishment allows Landry to continue speculating that the governor is deliberately dragging his feet on enforcing state law.

Louisiana's last execution was in 2010. 71 inmates are on death row in the state.

The spark for this latest Edwards/Landry feud was a federal court order this month prohibiting Louisiana from carrying out any death sentences until mid-2019.

The Edwards administration asked for the extension, citing trouble getting lethal injection drugs. In response, Landry's office said it was withdrawing from defending the corrections department against the lawsuit challenging its lethal injection protocols.

Landry said the biggest obstacle is Edwards' "unwillingness to proceed." He's slammed the governor on the issue in letters released to news outlets, in interviews and on social media.

Though reporters have continually asked, the governor won't say if he personally supports the death penalty. He dodges when questioned about it.

Asked last week if he favored capital punishment, Edwards told reporters: "The law of the state of Louisiana allows for the death penalty, and it prescribes a certain method." Then, he explained: "It is not possible to carry out the death penalty in the state of Louisiana because the drug cocktail is not available to use."

Another reporter tried again, asking a similar question. Edwards replied: "I will do what I am required to do as chief executive officer of the state of Louisiana who takes an oath to the laws and to the constitution of our state."

Landry claims the governor is using the difficulty obtaining lethal injection drugs as an excuse. He points to other states that have found ways to access the drugs and execute prisoners. Landry said continued delays keep victims' families from "getting justice" for horrific crimes.

Edwards administration officials said the ideas offered by Landry are unworkable. They said if Landry felt so strongly about restarting executions in Louisiana, he could have encouraged legislators to rewrite the laws as some other states have done, to expand available execution methods or shield information about the drugs they use and how they obtain them.

The governor accused Landry of trying to "score political points" by "using victims of crime."

"The families of victims are not well-served by politicians who spout off about this issue without real solutions," Edwards wrote the attorney general.

Landry's office said it tried to work with the Edwards administration behind the scenes and only started hammering the governor publicly when the latest court filing showed Edwards wasn't interested in carrying out executions.

If Edwards supported capital punishment, Landry said, he'd say so.

"The governor could put this all to bed. He could answer the question," Landry said.

To be sure, Edwards faces competing pressure points on the issue. He comes from a family of law enforcement officials, stretching across several generations. He's also Catholic, and church leaders oppose the death penalty, with Pope Francis saying it violates the Gospel.

Landry, too, is Catholic. But he's direct in his support of the death penalty. He's sent Edwards proposed draft language that lawmakers could use to allow Louisiana to execute people by nitrogen gas, hanging, firing squads or electrocution.

Asked if he'd support expanding Louisiana's execution methods, Edwards said: "I'm not inclined to go back to methods that have been discarded because popular sentiment turned against them or maybe some methods that were deemed to be barbaric and so forth."

"We have a law in place, and we will continue to try to search for solutions around that law, lethal injection. But for example, hangings and firing squads? No, I am not," the governor said.

(source: The Advocate)

OHIO:

Ohio governor spares record number of death row inmates

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has finished dealing with executions for the remainder of his time in office following a modern-era record of death penalty commutations.

The Republican governor spared 7 men from execution during his 2 terms in office, including commutations on March 26 and July 20. Kasich allowed 15 executions to proceed, including the July 18 execution of Robert Van Hook for strangling, stabbing and dismembering a man he met in a Cincinnati bar more than 30 years ago.

Not since Democrat Mike DiSalle spared 6 death row inmates in the early 1960s has an Ohio governor spared so many killers during periods when the state had an active death chamber. DiSalle allowed6x executions to proceed.

Democratic Gov. Richard Celeste commuted 8 death sentences just days before leaving office in 1991, but none of those inmates' executions was imminent.

Kasich "appreciates the gravity of this authority and therefore carefully considers these cases to make decisions that further justice," said spokesman Jon Keeling.

Kasich's immediate predecessor, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, commuted 5 death sentences and allowed 17 executions during his 4-year term.

Ohio resumed executions in 1999 under Gov. Bob Taft after a 36-year gap. Taft, a Republican, allowed 20 executions to proceed and spared just 1 inmate based on concerns raised by DNA evidence not available at the time of trial.

Nationwide, governors have spared 288 death row inmates since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of capital punishment in 1976, with a handful spared each year over the past decade. That doesn't include mass clemencies in states - such as New Jersey in 2007 - where the death penalty was abolished and entire death rows were emptied.

Sparing inmates is not the political death knell it might have been in decades past, thanks to concerns about innocence raised by DNA testing and the role of severe mental illness on some offenders' behavior.

"Kasich's decisions to commute reflect a societal shift away from an unquestioning belief in the value of the death penalty or at least the value in every case," said Lori Shaw, a University of Dayton law professor.

Strickland said he doesn't think he paid a political price for his commutations, which he tried to use "as judiciously and appropriately as I could."

Taft said he's now opposed to capital punishment except in the most severe cases, such as acts of terrorism, multiple victims or the killing of a police officer.

He also backs findings of a state Supreme Court commission that recommended against the death penalty for inmates suffering severe mental illness at the time of the crime, and in cases where a homicide was committed during other crimes such as burglaries or robberies.

"The climate is a little different in regard to the death sentence today," Taft said. "Governors have more latitude or leeway to consider a number of factors that may not have been considered in prior times."

(source: Associated Press)

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

Serial killer sentencing enters week 2: What's happened so far

Sentencing for convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland enters week 2 today, with jurors hearing the end of Kirkland's 9-hour confession to Cincinnati police after being arrested in 2009.

Kirkland killed 3 women and 2 teenagers, burning their bodies, then fleeing. First he killed Leona Douglas in 1989, resulting in a 16-year prison sentence. He was released in 2003 and then between 2006 and 2009 killed 4 more times.

Kirkland is facing the death penalty for the deaths of Casonya Crawford, who he killed in 2006 and Esme Kenney, who he killed in 2009. Kirkland was caught the same day he killed Esme.

In a confession to police, he admitted to killing the teenagers and also Mary Jo Newton, 45, and Kimya Rolison, 25, both in 2006. Kirkland was convicted for all 4 deaths in 2010 and was sentenced to death penalty. The Ohio Supreme Court last year overturned the sentence, which was ordered for the deaths of the teen girls.

A new jury -- 6 men and 6 women, 2 of them black -- were chosen last week in the new sentencing hearing.

Kirkland is serving a life prison term in the deaths of the adult women.

Tears and stories about long searches for loved ones

Jurors heard from the victims' families. This was, at times, heartbreaking testimony, which brought tears to some in the courtroom.

Casonya's grandmother, Patricia Crawford, testified it was not unusual for Casonya to sneak out of the house to go see her mother, who had lost custody of the children. But never before had she not called, not gone to school, not returned home quickly. Casonya's burned body was found a week later.

Jurors heard testimony from Newton's sister, Barbara McAvoy, who said her sister suffered mental illness and the family repeatedly tried to get her help. Then one day she just didn't come home.

Rolison's father, Gary Rolison, told jurors Rolison had a drug problem, but had gone to rehab. She was supposed to move back home to California with her 2 children. But then one day she just stopped calling. He broke down during his testimony.

Esme's mother, Lisa Kenney, described the painful hours between when Esme went missing and when police caught Kirkland. Her testimony: "I knew something was wrong."

Kirkland's confession

When 2 bodies turned up brutalized and burned in 2006, Cincinnati homicide detective Keith Witherell suspected the same person killed both victims.

But the problem was, the killer left no clues. Witherell kept those cases in the back of his mind and when Anthony Kirkland was arrested the following year for threatening to kill his son in a home near where the bodies were found, Witherell thought he might have found his homicide suspect.

In that police interrogation, Kirkland denied knowing Casonya Crawford, 14, who was strangled and burned. And Kirkland admitted to knowing Mary Jo Newtown, 45, saying she was a prostitute he had had sex with, but denied knowing anything about her death.

Witherell was forced to leave it at that. Until Esme Kenney, 13, was abducted and killed the same way, with Kirkland arrested as an immediate suspect.

Witherell, who has been a homicide detective for 17 years, is credited with prying a confession of Kirkland that definitively tied Kirkland to four killings.

"Things got out of hand," Kirkland told the detective.

Kirkland acts out

Last Monday morning, as jury selection began later because Kirkland refused to go to court. The problem: He didn't like his breakfast. Deputies in the Hamilton County jail donned protective gear and then forced Kirkland into a restraint chair until he promised to go to court.

The judge, while the jury was out of the room, told Kirkland, "This trial is going forward with or without your cooperation. Hopefully, it is with your cooperation. If not, you will be brought in in shackles and handcuffs, ... we'll use a restraint chair if necessary.

"I don't want to do that and I don't think you want the jury to see that," the judge added.

Kirkland is mentally ill

Kirkland's attorneys are asking jurors to impose a life prison term without parole. During opening statements, lawyer Tim Cutcher told jurors Kirkland sought help 8 times, between later 2008 and early 2009, with no help coming other than short-term hospitalizations.

Kirkland has a diagnosed mental illness they said, and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being mentally and physically abused as a child.

(source: cincinnati.com)

NEBRASKA:

Sen. Ernie Chambers makes last-ditch effort to head off Moore execution

The state's leading opponent of capital punishment is making a last-ditch effort to stop Nebraska's planned Aug. 14 execution.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, in a letter, is asking pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to take legal action to force the return of lethal injection drugs expected to be used in the execution of double-murderer Carey Dean Moore.

Chambers also urged state officials to comply with Pfizer's October 2017 demand that Nebraska voluntarily return the drugs - a plea that reportedly has been ignored by the state.

The senator called on the company to follow the recent example of another drug manufacturer and go to court to force the return of the lethal injection drugs.

"There is something (Pfizer) can do to protect their reputation, their name and the integrity of their products. ... The doors of the court are open to them," Chambers said in an interview as he was drafting the letter on Friday.

"If they don't do anything, it calls into question their sincerity and their principles and values," he said.

A Pfizer spokesman, when reached Friday, said the company has done all it plans to do to get its products back.

"We've asked for it and we haven't gotten it back," spokesman Steven Danehy said. "We're not going to go any further than that."

Earlier this month, an execution in Nevada was temporarily postponed when another pharmaceutical company, Alvogen, filed a lawsuit against the State of Nevada. The lawsuit claimed that Alvogen was duped into providing a drug that was to be used in a July 11 execution.

Alvogen, like Pfizer, has a policy banning the use of its products in executions.

In October, Pfizer sent a letter to Nebraska corrections officials demanding the return of drugs if they were to be used in a lethal injection. The company makes 3 of the 4 drugs - diazepam, fentanyl citrate and potassium chloride - planned to be used in the Aug. 14 execution.

But the plea fell on deaf ears.

Danehy said that to his knowledge, Nebraska hadn't returned any of the drugs, even though Pfizer offered to refund the purchase price.

Officials with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and the office of Gov. Pete Ricketts have declined to say if the state obtained any drugs from Pfizer. The officials have declined to reveal the source of the drugs scheduled to be used, which has prompted lawsuits by the ACLU of Nebraska as well as Nebraska news media.

A national authority on capital punishment, Robert Dunham of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, said Pfizer typically doesn't send "demand" letters unless it suspects that a state has obtained drugs manufactured by it.

Sandoz, the maker of a 4th drug to be used in the Nebraska execution, cisatracurium besylate, also has indicated that it does not want its product used in lethal injections. But it, like Pfizer, has not taken its objections to court.

The stances of the pharmaceutical companies - that their products not be used to end a life - have been among the hurdles faced by states in obtaining the drugs needed to carry out a lethal injection execution.

Moore has said he no longer wants to fight the state's efforts to execute him. Some observers have said that a lawsuit from a pharmaceutical company may be one of the few remaining options to block the execution.

If the execution goes forward, it would mark the first lethal injection in Nebraska and the state's 1st use of capital punishment in 21 years.

Chambers, in his 2-page letter to Pfizer, quoted Shakespeare and suggested that the company may be trying to "have it both ways" by asking for the drugs' return but not taking legal action, as Alvogen did, to force it to happen.

"Does Pfizer's desire to protect its integrity, good name and public image rise to the level of Alvogen's?" Chambers wrote in his letter. "Actions speak louder than words, says the popular axiom."

The 4-drug protocol Nebraska plans to use has never been used in an execution in the U.S.

Knowing the source of the drugs, and their purity, is important in avoiding unnecessary pain and suffering of the condemned or a botched execution, ACLU officials have said. The civil rights group has cited Nebraska's past problems in obtaining lethal injection drugs from reputable sources. In 1 instance, Nebraska paid $54,000 to a broker in India for lethal injection drugs and never received the drugs, or a refund.

A recent World-Herald story revealed that the same distributor that provided lethal injection drugs to the State of Nevada also has a contract with the State of Nebraska to supply pharmaceuticals.

Officials with Cardinal Health have declined to say if it is the distributor providing Nebraska its supply of lethal injection drugs.

(source: Omaha World-Herald)

INDIA:

State to drop its law on death penalty for child rapists

The Haryana Government has decided not to pursue a Bill that the Assembly passed 3 months ago and that provides for death penalty to those guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less. Instead, the government will adopt the Central legislation in this regard after it is passed.

Sources say it was decided to drop the state legislation in favour of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which will was promulgated on April 21 following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua (Jammu and Kashmir) and the rape of a woman in Unnao (Uttar Pradesh).

The essence of the state and Central legislations is the same, while the latter is more comprehensive, the sources say.

"There are 2 categories in the Centre's law. While death penalty for raping a 12-year-old girl or less remains, the Centre has provided for 2 months each for investigation and trial, making it time bound. There was no such provision in the state's legislation," an officer said.

Haryana was the 3rd state after Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to pass a Bill providing death penalty for child rapists. The Criminal Law (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2018, was moved in the Assembly on the last day of the Budget session and passed unanimously.

Haryana had introduced Section 376-AA, under an amendment, stating that in case of rape of a girl up to 12 years of age, there will be a punishment of death or rigorous imprisonment of not less than 14 years which may extend to life imprisonment for the remainder period of the person's natural life, according to the legislation.

Section 376-DA was also added after Section 376-D of the IPC. Under Section 376-DA, if a girl up to 12 years of age is raped by 1 or more persons constituting a group, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed rape and will be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment for a term which will not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life along with a fine.

The Bill also provided for making the existing criminal laws related to other sexual offences sterner with imprisonment not less than 2 years (earlier not less than 1 year) extending up to 7 years (earlier up to 5 years) for assault or criminal force against women with an intent to outrage her modesty.

Also, those found guilty of stalking would be punished on 1st conviction with imprisonment up to 3 years. They could be punished on a 2nd or subsequent conviction with imprisonment for not less than 3 years, but which may extend to 7 years (earlier up to 5 years). The new additions also include provisions of fining the convict and any such fine will be paid to the victim.

Haryana, however, has now decided to adopt the Central legislation once it gets the nod of the Parliament.

(source: tribuneindia.com)

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

India needs 1,023 special courts to try cases of rape and child rape: Law Min

A little over 1,000 'fast track special courts' need to be set up across India as part of a new scheme to try cases related to rape of children and women, the Law Ministry has estimated.

These courts are to be set up as part of a larger scheme to strengthen infrastructure for better investigation and swift prosecution in such cases.

The Department of Justice in the Law Ministry has estimated an expenditure of Rs 767.25 to set up these special courts. The Centre will have to shell out Rs 474 crore as central funding, the department has told the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

" ... It is estimated that a total of 1,023 FTSCs (fast track special courts) are required to be set up for disposing of rape and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act cases with an estimated expenditure of Rs 767.25 crore out of which Rs 464 crore as central funding on the pattern of centrally sonsored scheme," said a Law Ministry document.

The details worked out by it have been forwarded to the MHA.

The new scheme is part of an ordinance recently promulgated to allow courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children aged up to 12 years.

The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Ordinance amended the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Evidence Act and the POCSO Act.

While bringing out the ordinance, the government had decided to frame a scheme to set up an "appropriate" number of fast track courts to try rape cases in the states.

The scheme will include components, including strengthening of the physical infrastructure and prosecution machinery, provision of the required number of judicial officers for lower courts, additional posts of public prosecutors, dedicated investigators and special forensic kits.

A senior government functionary said as many as 524 fast-track courts are already functional in the country to try cases related to women, SCs and STs, the marginalised and senior citizens.

Quoting a written response of Law Minster Ravi Shankar Prasad in Parliament in March 2017, the functionary pointed out that of the 524 fast track courts, 100 are in Maharashtra, 83 in Uttar Pradesh, 39 in Tamil Nadu, 38 in Andhra Pradesh and 34 in Telangana.

The special fast track courts proposed now as part of the ordinance would specifically deal with rape and child rape cases, the functionary said.

In April, the government had issued an ordinance to provide stringent punishment, including death, for those convicted of raping minors up to the age of 12 years, amid a nationwide outrage over cases of sexual assault and the murder of minors in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua and Gujarat's Surat, and the rape of a girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

New fast-track courts will be set up to deal with such cases and special forensic kits for rape cases will be given to all police stations and hospitals in the long term, according to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance.

It stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years. The death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.

The measure also provides for speedy investigation and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed and has to be now completed within 2 months.

The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be 2 months, officials said. A 6-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.

New posts of public prosecutors will be created and special forensic kits for rape cases given to all police stations and hospitals in the long term, the officials said.

Dedicated manpower will be provided for investigation of rape cases in a time-bound manner.

Special forensic labs exclusively for rape cases would also come up in each state.

(source: business-standard.com)

GAZA STRIP:

4 Death Sentences in 1 Month; 2 Death Sentences Issued Against 2 Civilians in the Gaza Strip

On 26 July 2018, Gaza Court of First Instance issued 2 death sentences by hanging against (G. H.) and (Z. Q.) from Gaza City, after being convicted of participation in murder. This sentence comes after Palestine's signing the instrument of its accession to the Additional Protocol of the 1989 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in last June.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns issuing death sentences, especially in light of absence of fair trial guarantees in the Gaza Strip. PCHR reiterates is calls upon the Palestinian President to issue a Presidential decree to halt the death penalty until pending the necessary amendments in the local laws.

It should be noted that this sentence is the 2nd to be issued against a woman in the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a previous 1 was issued against a woman in 2016, but it was not executed yet.

In 2018, the number of death sentences issued has so far risen to 5 sentences, 4 of them were issued by courts of first instance, and 1 was issued by the Court of Appeal, upholding a previous sentence. Thus, the total number of death sentences issued in the PA controlled areas has risen to 207 since 1994, 30 of which have been issued in the West Bank and 177 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 119 sentences have been issued since 2007.

Since the establishment of the PA, 41 death sentences were applied, 39 of which were in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank. Among the sentences applied in the Gaza Strip, 28 were applied since 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law.

PCHR express its continued condemnation of such inhuman punishment in light of absence of fair trial guarantees and calls upon the judiciary in Gaza not to use such sentence until it is abolished in the necessary legal form.

PCHR calls upon the Palestinian President to make immediate amendments in the Penal Codes applicable in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, especially the Penal Law No. 74 (1936) which remains in effect in the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 (1960) that is in effect in the West Bank. PCHR retreats is calls to halt the application of 1979 Revolutionary Penal Code as it is unconstitutional.

(source: Palestinian Center for Human Rights)

BAHAMAS:

Capital punishment debate continues

Noted attorney Wayne Munroe Q.C. questioned Sunday why the government would have to take the matter of capital punishment to a referendum noting that simple amendments to existing legislation would be a better option.

His comments came after it was revealed by Attorney General Carl Bethel last week that Bahamian public will most likely decide via a referendum on how The Bahamas will proceed with capital punishment.

Former representative of Amnesty International R.E. Barnes, who presently serves as secretary of Better Caribbean Life which focuses solely on capital punishment in the region, however, said capital punishment should be removed as an option for punishment as the organization believes that reform can be achieved.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said last Sunday that he remains a firm supporter of the death penalty.

The government was expected to make amendments to the Juries Bill, which deals with certain provisions regarding the death penalty, before taking its summer recess. However, that did not happen.

(source: ewnews.com)

UNITED KINGDOM:

Behind the Isis 'Beatle' Elsheikh is a story of breakdown and despair----I am distantly connected to El Shafee Elsheikh, and I know his execution would do nothing to solve the root causes of radicalisation

The 1st time I saw El Shafee Elsheikh's name in the British media, it took me a while to make the link between this Islamic State terrorist - said to be a member of the so-called Isis Beatles - and the stories I'd heard about the misfortunes of a Sudanese woman called Maha whose boys were losing their way in London.

The Elsheikhs were a distant part of my extended family circle in Sudan before they sought asylum in the UK. I never met any of them, but they were spoken of often, long before the brothers were radicalised, as a family that had fallen through the cracks in exile. The irony in the Elsheikh story is that the parents were communists who fled to the UK from the persecution of an Islamist regime that came to power in Sudan in 1989. A whole middle-class generation left the country in the early 90s, either out of fear for their safety after they refused to support the regime, or because they were too liberal and progressive. Many struggled to thrive once they fled.

His story has no arc, is merely one of self-righteous violence with a banal origin, and it should be treated that way

The Elsheikh family stories came through regularly, traded in the salons of Khartoum. It was unkind gossip from those who had stayed behind to suffer under the iron fist of the military, sneery and gloating at their lack of success. The parents had separated shortly after arriving in the UK and the mother, Maha, and her 3 boys lived in a west London council estate. 2 of the boys began to stray into gang violence, their close threesome shattered when the eldest was sent to jail for a decade for firearm possession during a plot to murder a boy who had stabbed El Shafee several times in a fight.

El Shafee fell under the influence of an imam version of the Pied Piper, who set him on the path to radicalisation, and ultimately to the torturers of Isis. El Shafee's younger brother, left alone with his mother, followed him to Syria and was dead within a year. El Shafee, on the other hand, rose high in the Isis ranks.

He allegedly became part of the "Beatles", the gang of torturers and executioners that also included "Jihadi John". The sobriquets and breathless media coverage of this gang of 4, wielding their weapons as they bantered in masks and London accents, jarred with the sad, small life lived by misfit boys in west London that had been gossiped about among their parents' peers.

This is not a glamorous story with a coherent thread, it is a story of political failure in Sudan and social failure in the UK, underscored by family breakdown. It is a story of poverty, urban drift and atomisation. And it is a story of how some preachers in Londonís mosques stalk the city, picking up fatherless, disenchanted boys.

So it is unsettling to hear the way Elsheikh's narrative is being retold today - giving him the chance of glamorous martyrdom at the hands of Isis's great satan, the United States, with the UK happy to assist without any assurances against the death penalty being enforced. This is a mistake. Not out of any sympathy for Elsheikh or his fellow jihadis - they chose their path - but because to strip them of citizenship and condemn them to death gives them a shot at the jihadi big time. And it fuels the idea of a western enemy that claims to have values but jettisons them whenever is convenient. This is the west of Guantanamo Bay, of extrajudicial torture and execution.

Elsheikh draws his lifeblood from this. Since his arrest in Syria, he's been happy to give interviews, seething with anger against his FBI interrogators - according to him "the least respectable of the bunch" of parties that interviewed him. He rails against his statelessness and how it guarantees mistreatment at American hands.

UK waits on legal challenge over death penalty for Isis pair Already he is an embarrassment to the British government. His mother launched a legal bid last week to stop Britain handing over evidence to US authorities. The Home Office, which had until then cooperated with the US, paused its assistance - potentially saving Elsheikh's life. It is the first time in the legal proceedings since he and another alleged former "Beatle" Alexanda Kotey were arrested in Syria that authorities have intervened on behalf of British due process. The British government seems happy to wash its hands of the whole affair. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, in a leaked letter to the US attorney-general Jeff Sessions, states that the government "does not currently intend to request, nor actively encourage" the transfer of Kotey and Elsheikh to Britain, allowing the US retribution machine to take over.

It seems we have in this country defaulted to some of the American way of dealing with Islamist radicalisation, in that we imbue it with an exceptional sort of criminality, something that requires a public square lynching. Only a month ago, it was revealed that British intelligence had been involved in hundreds of illegal rendition or torture cases. This plays into all the narratives that nourish radicalisation, that spin elaborate tales to convince people such as Elsheikh that they are not merely gangsters. The whole purpose of joining Isis is to inflict as much damage and pain as possible against its self-appointed enemy, before succumbing to crucifixion and in the process, earn an identity, an arc, some meaning.

Elsheikh's story has no arc or meaning, it is merely one of self-righteous violence with a banal origin, and it should be treated that way. The crimes he and Kotey are accused of are horrific and, though it is tempting to look for a jurisdiction that metes out maximum punishment, to do so gives them too much credit. They would become 2 more names to be used in the Isis propaganda of victimhood, of heroism in the face of barbarism. Handing them over boosts them and diminishes us.

(source: Nesrine Malik is a Guardian columnist)

JAPAN:

Haruki Murakami 'cannot oppose' death penalty for doomsday cult killers----Japanese novelist, whose book Underground charted the impact of the 1995 sarin gas attack, says he is unable to argue with judicial killing in this case

The Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has said that he cannot publicly oppose Japan's execution of the doomsday cult members behind the 1995 Tokyo sarin gas attack, despite being against the death penalty.

In a rare essay, published in the Mainichi Shimbun on Sunday, Murakami said that "as a general argument, I adopt a stance of opposition toward the death penalty", pointing to the number of wrongful convictions which mean that "the death penalty, literally, can be described as an institution with fatal dangers".

But the author, who interviewed survivors and cult members about the sarin attack for his 1997 non-fiction book Underground, said that after speaking to those who were injured and those who lost loved ones, "I cannot publicly state, as far as this case is concerned, 'I am opposed to death penalty.'"

The Aum Shinrikyo cult's attack on the Tokyo subway killed 13 people and left more than 6,000 ill. The group's former leader, Shoko Asahara, was hanged on 6 July along with 6 other members, with a further 6 members executed last week.

Murakami said that it was not possible to say that the executions were "right", but he believes they will not provide closure to those affected by Aum Shinrikyo's attack. "If there was any intention of 'bringing a closure to those cases', or an ulterior motive of making the institution called the death penalty a more permanent one by using this opportunity, that is wrong, and the existence of such a strategy must never be allowed," he wrote.

The novelist said that writing Underground changed "something inside me", and spending time listening to the sentencing of the cult members made him feel "like a blunt weight was inside my chest".

Following the news that all of the 13 death row inmates have been executed, "I similarly feel the existence of that weight in my chest", wrote Murakami. "A heavy silence that defies words exists inside me. The death that appeared in the courtroom took away its share."

(source: The Guardian)

CHINA:

Father gets death for slaying doctor

A father from Shandong province whose newborn daughter died in a hospital has been sentenced to death for killing the doctor who treated her.

Chen Jianli, 30, was convicted of the intentional homicide of pediatrician Li Baohua at Laiwu Intermediate People's Court.

"He stabbed the doctor to vent his anger in a public place and used cruel means to kill innocent medical personnel, resulting in great harm to people's personal safety and a negative social impact. We have given him the death penalty," the court said in a statement on Sunday.

The killer has also been deprived of his political rights, it added.

Chen's daughter was born in a hospital in Laiwu in February 2016. The baby developed a fever the next day and was transferred to the pediatric ward for treatment, but she died, the court said.

Prosecutors said the father blamed Li and the hospital for the death, and he sought compensation from both on numerous occasions. When he failed, he decided to get revenge, the court said.

One morning in October 2016, Chen rode a motorcycle to the hospital. On the way he stopped to buy a machete, which he hid in his green canvas bag. Once at the hospital, he went directly to the pediatric ward on the fifth floor and found Li in a break room.

He questioned Li about his daughter's death and the compensation issue. When the doctor did not reply, Chen took out the machete and struck Li in the head as the doctor was answering a phone call.

Li died at the scene, and Chen was detained by police in the hospital.

In recent days, a number of violent attacks on doctors have occurred across the country, attracting attention from the public and media.

Judicial authorities say they have ramped up efforts to punish assailants and have taken a zero-tolerance attitude toward such crimes.

Last week, the Supreme People's Court held a meeting about judicial reform in which it was decided that people who violently target medical personnel, or who are involved in activities that endanger food or drug safety, will be severely punished.

"In China, lots of patients face difficulties in seeing doctors and paying medical fees," said Li Wei, a lawyer with the Beijing Lawyers Association. "Patients and doctors don't have enough trust in each other, which contributes to the high incidence of violence targeting medical personnel.

"Authorities should adopt comprehensive measures and take the time needed to solve the problem thoroughly," she said.

(source: china.org.cn)

JULY 29, 2018:

TEXAS----inmate seeks to drop appeals and speed executuion

Travis Mullis, On Death Row For Stomping Infant To Death, Files Request To Fast-Track His Execution----Mullis has waived all his appeals and fired his attorneys.

Travis Mullis, a 31-year-old Texas man who stomped his 3-year-old baby to death, has filed a request to fast-track his path to the death chamber, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Mullis made headlines when he was sentenced to death row in 2011 after he stomped his little baby to death by the Galveston seawall in a ghastly culmination of what his attorneys said was a series of "stupid decisions." His attorneys had previously pointed out that Mullis was an "emotional mental health quadriplegic," detailing his horrific upbringing and the result of his childhood scars on his mental being.

According to the documents, Mullis' mother died when he was a toddler, and between the ages of 3 and 6, he was sexually abused repeatedly. He spent years in and out of institutions, and when he was 18, Mullis' adoptive mother kicked him out to live on his own. This is when he moved to Texas and settled with a woman he had met online on the outskirts of Houston.

But by 2008, Mullis and his girlfriend found themselves without any money and without a home, at which point a couple which had been living in a trailer invited them to come live with them.

At one point during his stay, Mullis took the couple's 8-year-old daughter to a schoolyard where he tried molesting her. When the child began crying, Mullis panicked, later ruing the fact that he had "screwed" himself by "stepping over the line."

Partly to avoid eviction, and partly to introspect his next course of action, Mullis drove to Galveston with his 3-month-old sleeping in the back seat.

Court documents showed that the child started crying, making Mullis angry. In his impulsive rage, the Texas man tried to first molest his toddler boy, but when he wouldn't keep quiet, stomped his head till it gave away.

"I make stupid decisions, what can I say. I did it on impulse and killed him right after," he told the Chronicle.

He fled to Pennsylvania but four days after the incident and surrendered to Philadelphia police with a detailed confession about the crimes he had committed. He was sentenced to death despite protestations by his attorneys that Mullis had been subject to emotional and sexual abuse himself while growing up.

Mullis has waived appeals and won't seek the counsel of his attorneys, having fired them. He says he doesn't want to be excused because he committed serious crimes which should lead to death. All he wants, Mullis says, is that his suffering be reduced by fast-tracking his path to death.

"I'm 100 % guilty of my crime nobody contests that," Mullis said. "The fight is over my sentence. I'm accepting of my death sentence. My lawyers are against the death penalty for anyone."

(source: inquisitr.com)

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

Bail reduced for woman accused in son's death

A district judge in Bowie County reduced bail from $100,000 to $20,000 at a hearing Friday for a woman accused in the death of her 4-year-old son earlier this year.

Khadijah Wright, 26, appeared before 5th District Judge Bill Miller for a bond reduction hearing Friday morning with Dallas lawyer Jasmine Crockett in a 2nd-floor courtroom of the Bowie County courthouse. Wright is charged with injury to a child by omission in the March death of young D'Money Lewis. D'Money's father, Benearl Lewis, is charged with capital murder in the death.

Wright is accused of allowing Benearl Lewis to be alone with the couple's children despite a care plan with Child Protective Services prohibiting D'Money's father to have unsupervised contact or spend the night at the rent house where Wright and the children were living in Wake Village, Texas, on Redwater Road.

Crockett called Wright's mother to testify on her behalf at Friday's hearing. Marisha Hamilton testified that Wright graduated from Arkansas High School in Texarkana, Ark., and that Wright has some type of online degree. Hamilton said Wright was working at Mayo Manufacturing in Texarkana at the time of Wright's arrest 128 days ago.

Hamilton said she lives on a disability payment of less than $1,000 monthly and denied Wright has any assets or felony convictions. Hamilton told the court she can only afford to post $2,000 for her daughter's release.

Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards called Wake Village Police Department Detective Todd Aultman, the lead investigator into D'Money's murder. Aultman said the case was brought to his department's attention March 6 by members of the Texarkana, Texas, Police Department.

Aultman said Texarkana, Texas, police were working a traffic accident at West Seventh Street and Bishop Lane when the couple approached them about getting a police escort to the hospital for their child. Aultman said an officer who checked on D'Money found him unresponsive, not breathing and cold to the touch.

D'Money died at a Little Rock hospital 2 days later.

Aultman said that during his investigation, he found that Child Protective Services and its counterpart agency in Texarkana, Ark., as well as a child welfare agency in the state of Mississippi, had become involved amid allegations of child abuse. Aultman said 10 to 15 cases concerning the children have been initiated over the 5 years before D'Money's death. D'Money has older and younger siblings.

Also discussed was Wright's alleged lack of cooperation with investigators. Wright allegedly left her job about 2 p.m. March 6 without clocking out or telling anyone she was leaving after receiving a text from Benearl Lewis that there was an emergency, according to a probable cause affidavit. A little more than two hours later, the couple came upon the traffic accident being worked by Texarkana, Texas, police.

While in cardiac arrest, D'Money was taken by ambulance to Wadley Regional Medical Center. Aultman's report states he observed a large area of bruising on the boy's back and "strap" marks on D'Money's legs and back. Medical staff members at Wadley told Aultman the boy was suffering from a brain bleed and bruising to his back and chest, "as if he had been kicked."

After initial treatment at Wadley, D'Money was airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock. Medical staff there told investigators the boy's injuries were inconsistent with the account allegedly provided by his parents and more likely the result of abuse.

Lewis and Wright allegedly told investigators that D'Money had "jumped or fallen from a deep freezer and that his eyes rolled back in his head," the affidavit states.

After D'Money's death March 8, his body was taken to Dallas for an autopsy. Among the damage documented to the child's body was a "space occupying subdural hematoma" that had caused the child's brain to "herniate down into his spine," the affidavit states. Also noted at autopsy were bruising to the child's legs and back and tissue damage in his kidneys.

Crockett argued that Wright's $1 million bail, the same amount set for Benearl Lewis, is too high and that allowing Wright to make bond will permit her more time to prepare a defense with her lawyer. Richards pointed out that Wright has a history of failing to comply with court orders, as evidenced by her disregard of the CPS care plan in place to protect her children from Benearl Lewis, and argued that if Wright had abided by the care plan, D'Money's death might have been avoided.

Miller agreed to reduce Wright's bond to $20,000. That means Wright will need to pay a commercial bondsman $2,000, or ten percent of the bail amount, to bond out of jail. Miller ordered that Wright will be outfitted with a GPS leg monitor and must either be working or actively seeking employment if she is freed while her case proceeds.

Wright faces 5 to 99 years or life if convicted of injury to a child by omission. Benearl Lewis faces death by lethal injection or life without parole if convicted of capital murder. Prosecutors have not said whether the death penalty will be sought.

Both Wright and Benearl Lewis are scheduled to appear in August before Miller for pretrial hearings. Lewis' case is set for trial in November. Wright's is scheduled for December.

(source: Texarkana Gazette)

FLORIDA:

Convicted murderer sentenced to death

On Tuesday, July 24, merely 32 minutes after the jury instructions for deliberation were read, a 12-person Okeechobee County jury unanimously recommended a sentence of death to a Maine man who was imprisoned at Okeechobee Correctional Institution (OCI) for the premeditated murder of his cell mate.

Michael Lawrence Woodbury, 42, of Windham, pleaded guilty on May 21 to the Sept. 22, 2017, capital felony of 1st degree premeditated murder of his cell mate, Antoneeze Haynes. According to the report, Woodbury struck Haynes repeatedly with a padlock.

Woodbury is set for a Spencer hearing to present information not presented at trial to the judge at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13. The Spencer hearing, which takes its name from the 1993 case of Spencer vs. Florida, is held so defendants facing the death penalty have the opportunity to persuade the court against it.

"I know that we took a lot of your time and focus away from other things you would probably rather be doing or should be doing," 19th Judicial Circuit St. Lucie County Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer told the jurors. "I will tell you that over the course of hundreds and hundreds of jury trials that I've presided over as a judge and the 50 or so as a lawyer, I don't know if I've ever seen a jury pay as much attention as much as you all did, to be honest with you. You all had to focus on a lot, and I appreciate that."

The penalty phase proceedings began Monday, July 23, in Courtroom C of the Okeechobee County Judicial Center. Woodbury, who represented himself, was accompanied with his standby counsel Stanley Glenn and Shane Manship. Prosecuting on behalf of the State of Florida from the 19th Judicial Circuit were Assistant State Attorneys Ashley Albright and Don Richardson.

Judge Bauer later told the jury, "While I find it very unusual, given such an important case, to have someone who chose to represent themselves, it's certainly a constitutional right and I respect Mr. Woodbury's choice to represent himself in the case if that's what he feels was in his best interest. He made that