Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A look at the death penalty in the United States

Here's a look at the death penalty in the United States.

Facts:

Capital punishment is legal in 32 U.S. states.

Connecticut, Maryland and New Mexico have abolished the death penalty, but it is not retroactive. Prisoners on death row in those states will still be executed.

As of October 2014 there were 3,035 inmates awaiting execution.

Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court, 1,389 people have been executed. (as of October 2014)

Japan is the only industrial democracy besides the United States that has the death penalty.

Federal Government: (source: Death Penalty Information Center)

The U.S. government and U.S. military have 69 people awaiting execution. (as of October 2014)

The U.S. government has executed 3 people since 1976.

Females: 

There are 57 women on death row in the United States. (as of October 2014)

15 women have been executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. (as of October 2014)

Juveniles:

22 individuals were executed between 1985 and 2003 for crimes committed as juveniles aged 16 and 17.

March 1, 2005 - Roper v. Simmons. The Supreme Court rules that the execution of juveniles is unconstitutional. This means that 16 and 17-year-olds are ineligible for execution. And reverses two 1989 cases in Kentucky and Missouri.

Clemency:

Clemency Processes around the Country.

275 clemencies have been granted in the United States since 1976.

For federal death row inmates, the president alone has the power to grant a pardon.

Timeline:

1834 - Pennsylvania becomes the first state to move executions into correctional facilities, ending public executions.

1838 - Discretionary death penalty statutes are enacted in Tennessee.

1846 - Michigan becomes the 1st state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes except treason.

1890 - William Kemmler becomes the 1st person executed by electrocution.

1907-1917 - 9 states abolish the death penalty for all crimes or strictly limit it. By 1920, 5 of those states had reinstated it.

1924 - The use of cyanide gas is introduced as an execution method.

1930s - Executions reach the highest levels in American history, averaging 167 per year.

June 29, 1972 - Furman v. Georgia. The Supreme Court effectively voids 40 death penalty statutes and suspends the death penalty.

1976 - Gregg v. Georgia. The death penalty is reinstated.

January 17, 1977 - A ten-year moratorium on executions ends with the execution of Gary Gilmore by firing squad in Utah.

1977 - Oklahoma becomes the 1st state to adopt lethal injection as a means of execution.

December 7, 1982 - Charles Brooks becomes the 1st person executed by lethal injection.

1984 - Velma Barfield of North Carolina becomes the 1st woman executed since reinstatement of the death penalty.

1986 - Ford v. Wainwright. Execution of insane persons is banned.

1987 - McCleskey v. Kemp. Racial disparities are not recognized as a constitutional violation of "equal protection of the law" unless intentional racial discrimination against the defendant can be shown.

1988 - Thompson v. Oklahoma. Executions of offenders age 15 and younger at the time of their crimes are declared unconstitutional.

1989 - Stanford v. Kentucky, and Wilkins v. Missouri. The Eighth Amendment does not prohibit the death penalty for crimes committed at age 16 or 17.

1994 - President Bill Clinton signs the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that expands the federal death penalty.

1996 - The last execution by hanging takes place in Delaware, with the death of Billy Bailey.

January 31, 2000 - A moratorium on executions is declared by Illinois Governor George Ryan. Since 1976, Illinois is the 1st state to block executions.

2002 - Atkins v. Virginia. The Supreme Court rules that the execution of mentally retarded defendants violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

January 2003 - Before leaving office, Governor George Ryan grants clemency to all of the remaining 167 inmates on Illinois's death row, due to the flawed process that led to the death sentences.

June 2004 - New York's death penalty law is declared unconstitutional by the state's high court.

March 1, 2005 - Roper v. Simmons. The Supreme Court rules that the execution of juvenile killers is unconstitutional. The 5-4 decision tosses out the death sentence of a Missouri man who was 17-years-old when he murdered a St. Louis area woman in 1993.

December 2, 2005 - The execution of Kenneth Lee Boyd in North Carolina marks the 1,000th time the death penalty has been carried out since it was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976. Boyd, 57, is executed for the 1988 murders of his wife, Julie Curry Boyd, and father-in-law, Thomas Dillard Curry.

June 12, 2006 - The Supreme Court rules that death row inmates can challenge the use of lethal injection as a method of execution.

December 15, 2006 - Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspends the death penalty after the execution of prisoner Angel Diaz. Diaz had to be given 2 injections, and it took more than 30 minutes for him to die.

December 15, 2006 - Judge Jeremy Fogel of the U.S. District Court in San Jose rules that lethal injection in California violates the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

December 17, 2007 - Governor Jon Corzine signs legislation banning the death penalty in New Jersey. The death sentences of 8 men are commuted to life terms.

September 2007 - The U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case of Baze and Bowling v. Rees, in which 2 Kentucky death row inmates challenged Kentucky's use of a 3-drug mixture for death by lethal injection.

December 31, 2007 - Due to the de facto moratorium on executions, pending the Supreme Court's ruling, only 42 people in the U.S. are executed in 2007. It is the lowest total in more than 10 years.

April 14, 2008 - In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court upholds Kentucky's use of lethal injection. Between September 2007, when the Court took on the case, and April 2008 no one was executed in the U.S.

March 18, 2009 - Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico signs legislation repealing the death penalty in his state. His actions will not affect 2 prisoners currently on death row, Robert Fry, who killed a woman in 2000, and Tim Allen, who killed a 17-year-old girl in 1994.

November 13, 2009 - Ohio becomes the 1st state to switch to a method of lethal injection using a single drug, rather than the 3-drug method used by other states.

2010 - Execution by firing squad is used for the last time in Utah, with the death of Ronnie Lee Gardner.

March 9, 2011 - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announces that he has signed legislation eliminating the death penalty in his state, more than 10 years after the state halted executions.

March 16, 2011 - The Drug Enforcement Agency seizes Georgia's supply of thiopental, over questions of where the state obtained the drug. U.S. manufacturer Hospira stopped producing the drug in 2009. The countries that still produce the drug do not allow it to be exported to the U.S. for use in lethal injections.

May 20, 2011 - The Georgia Department of Corrections announces that pentobarbital will be substituted for sodium thiopental in the 3-drug lethal injection process.

July 2011 - Lundbeck Inc., the company that makes pentobarbital (brand name Nembutal), the drug used in lethal injections, announces it will restrict the use of its product from prisons carrying out capital punishment. "After much consideration, we have determined that a restricted distribution system is the most meaningful means through which we can restrict the misuse of Nembutal. While the company has never sold the product directly to prisons and therefore can't make guarantees, we are confident that our new distribution program will play a substantial role in restricting prisons' access to Nembutal for misuse as part of lethal injection." Lundbeck also states that it "adamantly opposes the distressing misuse of our product in capital punishment."

July 7, 2011 - Humberto Leal Garcia, Jr., a Mexican national, is executed by lethal injection, in Texas for the 1994 kidnap, rape and murder of Adra Sauceda in San Antonio. Despite pleas from the U.S. State Department and the White House, Texas Governor Rick Perry does not grant clemency and the U.S. Supreme Court does not intervene.

November 22, 2011 - Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon grants a reprieve to Gary Haugen, who was scheduled to be executed December 6. Kitzhaber, a licensed physician, also puts a moratorium on all state executions for the remainder of his term in office.

April 25, 2012 - Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signs S.B. 280, An Act Revising the Penalty for Capital Felonies, into law. The law goes into effect immediately and replaces the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole. The law is not retroactive to those already on death row.

June 22, 2012 - The Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down the state's execution law, calling the form of lethal injection the state uses unconstitutional.

August 7, 2012 - The Supreme Court allows the execution of Marvin Wilson, 54, a Texas inmate with low IQ.

November 6, 2012 - A measure to repeal the death penalty in California fails.

May 2, 2013 - Maryland's governor signs a bill repealing the death penalty. The legislation goes into effect October 1.

June 26, 2013 - Texas executes its 500th prisoner since 1982, Kimberly McCarthy, for the 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth. McCarthy is the first female executed in the U.S. since 2010.

November 20, 2013 - Missouri executes white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin for the 1977 murder of Gerald Gordon. He was blamed for 22 killings between 1977 and 1980.

January 16, 2014 - Ohio executes inmate Dennis McGuire with a new combination of drugs, due to the unavailability of drugs such as pentobarbital. The state used a combination of the drugs midazolam, a sedative, and the painkiller hydromorphone, according to the state corrections department. According to witness Alan Johnson of the Columbus Dispatch, the whole execution process took 24 minutes, and McGuire appeared to be gasping for air for 10 to 13 minutes.

February 11, 2014 - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announces that he is issuing a moratorium on death penalty cases during his term in office.

May 22, 2014 - Tennessee becomes the 1st state to make death by electric chair mandatory when lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

May 28, 2014 - A judge in Ohio issues an order temporarily suspending executions in the state so that authorities can further study new lethal injection protocols.

July 23, 2014 - Arizona uses a new combination of drugs for the lethal injection to execute convicted murderer Joseph Woods. After he was injected it took him nearly two hours to die. Witness accounts differ as to whether he was gasping for air or snoring as he died.

September 4, 2014 - The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety issues a report on the controversial April execution of inmate Clayton Lockett. Complications with the placement of an IV into Lockett played a significant role in problems with his execution, according to the report. An autopsy confirmed that Lockett died from the execution

Source: CNN, November 25, 2014

Surendra Koli: Notorious Indian serial killer makes last ditch plea for clemency

A court in India will hear a last-ditch clemency plea from one of the country's worst serial killers, who has been sentenced to death.

However, human rights groups have said they are worried India's corrupt and ineffective justice system has not allowed the man a fair trial.

Domestic servant Surendra Koli and his employer Moninder Pandher were accused of killing 18 woman and children in a house in Delhi. They reportedly dismembered their victims' bodies before stuffing their remains into nearby drains.

One of Koli's victims was Anil Halder's 14-year-old daughter, Rimpa.

"There can be no bigger crime than this," he told the ABC.

"No bigger crime than this, what can be worse than this?"

Indian police said Koli confessed to killing 7 of the victims, including 10-year-old Joyti Lal.

Joyti's father, Jabbu Lal, is a laundry worker and thought Koli and Pandher were nice people.

"They'd come to us with clothes and a couple of times they had blood stains," he said.

"I asked them about it, how did that happen?

"Koli told me the clothes must have gotten accidentally stained when they went to buy freshly cut chicken."

Koli and Pandher were convicted in 2009 and sentenced to death, however Pandher was later acquitted.

The crimes shook India, but there were also concerns Koli was not given a fair trial in India's dubious justice system.

The investigation was marred by police misconduct and incompetence, and there were allegations Koli was tortured until he confessed.

Maja Daruwala from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said the case was typical of the things that could go wrong in the Indian justice system.

"In India, the justice system is extremely frail, it is extremely imperfect," she said.

"It's not so much about the horrendous circumstance that the Koli case opened up and showed to the public.

"I think that overtook the case, but the frailties of the case are very, very real."

India has imposed an unofficial moratorium on executions up until 2012.

Since then 2 people have been put to death.

Death sentences are still frequently commuted, but Ms Daruwala said there were huge dangers in keeping the penalty in a country with such an imperfect justice system.

"It is not a question of numbers, it is a question of what we as a country want to be."

Source: Yahoo news, November 25, 2014

India votes against UN resolution on death penalty

India has voted against a UN General Assembly draft resolution calling for moratorium on the use of death penalty, saying it fails to recognise each nation's "sovereign right" to determine its legal system and punish criminals according to its laws.

The draft resolution on 'Moratorium on the use of the death penalty' was approved last week in the General Assembly's Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues.

India was among the 36 nations that voted against the resolution, which got 114 votes in favour and 34 abstentions.

By the terms of the resolution, the General Assembly would urge Member States to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and not impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age, on pregnant women and on persons with mental or intellectual disabilities.

In its explanation of vote, India said the resolution seeks to promote a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

India voted against the resolution as it goes "against our statutory law, First Secretary in the Indian Mission to the UN Mayank Joshi said.

"The resolution fails to recognise the basic principle that each State has the sovereign right to determine its legal system and to punish criminals as per its laws," he said.

Joshi said in India the death penalty is exercised in the "rarest of rare" cases, where the crime committed is "so heinous as to shock the conscience of society."

He said Indian law provides for all requisite procedural safeguards, including the right to a fair hearing by an independent court, the presumption of innocence, the minimum guarantees for the defence and the right to review by a higher court.

Source: Zee news, November 25, 2014

ISIS stones 2 ‘gay men’ to death in Syria

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group stoned two men to death in Syria Tuesday after claiming they were gay, a monitor said, in the militant organization’s first executions for alleged homosexuality.

“The ISIS today stoned to death a man that it said was gay,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that the victim was around 20 years old.

He was killed in Mayadeen in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, near the border with Iraq.

The Britain-based Observatory said ISIS claimed it found videos on his mobile phone showing him “practicing indecent acts with males.”

In a separate incident on Tuesday, an 18-year-old was also stoned to death in Deir Ezzor city after the group said he was gay, the Observatory said.

Activists on social media said that the dead men were opponents of ISIS and that the group had used the allegation as a pretext to kill them.

The United Nations said this month the ISIS had carried out several executions by stoning of women in Syria it accused of adultery.

The militants proclaimed a “caliphate” in June after seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Activists say ISIS carries out regular public executions -- often beheadings -- in areas it controls.

Source: Agence France-Presse, November 25, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Saudi beheads 8th Pakistani since mid-October

Public behading in Saudi Arabia
Public beheading in Saudi Arabia
A Pakistani on Tuesday became the 8th person from his country to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia for drug trafficking since mid-October.

Seyfour al-Rahman Golajan is the latest of 73 people, foreigners and Saudis, to be executed in the kingdom this year, according to an AFP tally.

He "was caught trying to smuggle a large quantity of heroin hidden in his gut into the kingdom", an interior ministry statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Golajan was executed in the Eastern Province city of Dammam.

The ministry says the government is battling narcotics "because of their great harm to individuals and society".

In September, an independent expert working on behalf of the United Nations expressed concern about the judicial process and called for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

The oil-rich Gulf state saw the 3rd highest number of executions in the world last year after Iran and Iraq, according to Amnesty International whose figures did not include China.

Source: Agence France-Presse, November 25, 2014

Iranian Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence for Man Who "Insulted the Prophet" on Facebook

Soheil Arabi was sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet on the Facebook. He was one of the several people who were arrested under last year’s crackdown of Facebook activists by the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran Human Rights, November 24, 2014: Branch 41 of the Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of the blogger Soheil Arabi for insulting the Prophet on the Facebook. Soheil-Arabi-2

The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) arrested Soheil Arabi (30), and his wife on November 2013. Mr. Arabi’s wife was released few hours later, but he was kept in solitary confinement for two months inside IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, before he was transferred to Evin’s General Ward 350 where he is being held now. Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court, under Judge Khorasani, found Arabi guilty of “sabb al-nabi” (insulting the Prophet), on August 30, 2014.

Article 262 stipulates the death sentence for cursing the Prophet of Islam, any of the other grand prophets. 

In February 2014 the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Ruhollah Tavana for insulting the Prophet.

Source: Iran Human Rights, November 24, 2014

Nebraska: "Repealing death penalty would make us 'smart on crime'"

As a retired captain of the Lincoln Police Department with more 25 years of law enforcement experience, I pay close attention to policy discussions concerning public safety.

An issue that will surely emerge in the coming legislative session is whether or not Nebraska should repeal its death penalty. Some might be surprised to learn a veteran police officer supports repealing the death penalty; but my professional experience has shown me that our state's death penalty doesn't keep us any safer. Its exorbitant cost actually detracts from programs that would promote the overall health, safety and welfare of our communities.

I've spent my adult life working around and thinking about violent criminals. I assure you, the death penalty does not affect a criminal's thought process. Very few consider the consequences of their actions and believe they will never be caught. I have never met a criminal who expected to be caught, or was deterred by the slight possibility he would be sentenced to death instead of spending the rest of his life in prison.

I am not alone in this thinking. In 1995 and again in 2008, national surveys were conducted among police chiefs. They were asked to rank the effectiveness of crime prevention programs in decreasing violent crime. In both surveys, they ranked the death penalty dead last. A full 99% of the police chiefs said initiatives such as more officers or better lighting in high crime areas would make a more significant contribution than the death penalty in keeping their communities safe.

These rankings and priorities are important. Reality dictates that we can't have every crime-fighting tool we'd like. We have to make smart, informed choices with our limited resources. The death penalty, while being virtually no deterrent to crime, is tremendously expensive. Nebraska has balked at conducting a cost study of our system, but every state that has researched the numbers has shown the death penalty is far more expensive than life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

The United States Supreme Court has dictated capital cases must be handled differently, so they are especially complicated and time consuming. The vast majority of defendants in capital cases have appointed counsel. That means when seeking the death penalty, the state bears the significant expense of prosecuting and defending the accused.

The millions of dollars we've spent on the death penalty would have been much better invested in more police officers, additional resources or training for our current officers. The cheaper, more intelligent alternative for our state is life without the possibility of parole. Repealing the death penalty does not mean we are 'soft' on crime. It means we are smart on crime.

Although the death penalty is on the books in Nebraska, we cannot use it. Lethal injection is our only legal method to carry out an execution but one of the required drugs is not available. Concerns about wrongful convictions and the difficulty (or perhaps the impossibility) of finding a legal execution method means we pay a premium to prosecute capital cases, but the few criminals who receive death sentences will not be executed. Our most tenured inmate has been on death row for more than 34 years. We haven't had an execution in more than 15 years. We've already stopped using the death penalty in Nebraska, now we should stop paying for it. Let's invest in tools our law enforcement officers really need.

Source: Letter to the Editor; Former Lincoln Police Capt. Jim Davidsaver in July was named the emergency management director of Lancaster County, Lincoln Journal Star, November 24, 2014

Rodney Reed: Will Texas execute another innocent man?

Rodney Reed
Rodney Reed was convicted of the 1996 rape and murder of Stacey Stites. At the time, Stites was engaged to Jimmy Fennell Jr., a police officer in the nearby town of Giddings. At the same time, she was having an affair with Reed. Both Stites and Fennell are white; Reed is Black. Rodney was tried by an all-white jury in a small Texas town.

The only evidence linking Reed to the crime was semen DNA. But no evidence of rape was found--and Reed admitted to having sexual relations with Stites days before.

Today, the medical examiner who testified for the prosecution in the original trial, Robert Bayardo, has said publicly that the state misconstrued his statements, using Reed's DNA to place him at the scene of the murder. But the state has refused to listen to their former witness.

Meanwhile, substantial evidence points to another killer: Jimmy Fennell Jr. Fennell is currently serving time after being convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he detained while on duty in Georgetown, Texas. The evidence linking Fennell, not Reed, to the murder is troubling:

-- At new hearings for Reed in 2006, a witness testified to seeing Stites and Fennell together in the early morning hours of the day of her murder.

-- Another witness testified that Fennell once said he would strangle his girlfriend with a belt if he found her cheating on him--the exact manner in which Stites was killed.

-- Fennell was an original suspect and failed multiple lie detector tests when asked if he had strangled Stites.

-- DNA found at the crime scene was linked to 2 police officers who Fennell worked with. Prosecutors failed to give this evidence to the defense during the original trial.

-- The original investigation found no fingerprints of Reed's in the truck that investigators say was used to dump Stites' body, only those fingerprints of Stites and Fennell.

-- Before the defense could have access to the truck or request further testing of any of this forensic evidence, police returned the truck to Fennell. He sold it the very next day.

Since the time of Reed's last evidentiary hearing, still more new facts have come to light, including the affidavit about the forensic evidence provided by the former medical examiner. Yet this crucial evidence has been dismissed by the state courts, most recently by the federal 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, despite the fact that a life hangs on the line.

Because of the troubling evidence that he was framed and railroaded, Rodney Reed's case has been the subject of national media attention, attracting articles in The Nation and elsewhere. More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition supporting him, and he is the subject of a documentary State vs. Reed: A Question of Justice on Texas' Death Row (you can watch it on YouTube). The Intercept website recently published an-depth investigation titled "Is Texas Getting Ready to Kill an Innocent Man?"

The backdrop to this case is the epidemic of wrongful convictions in Texas. (...)

With all the evidence pointing to a police officer as the real murderer, Reed's case paints a particularly troubling picture about a rigged system. Will Texas execute another innocent man?

Source: SocialistWorker.org, November 24, 2014

"The death penalty is a social aberration that should be eradicated from humanity": Puerto Rico governor

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said Monday that the death penalty is a "social aberration" and he came out against using capital punishment on the island, where it has been prohibited for decades.

"The death penalty is a social aberration that should be eradicated from humanity," said Garcia Padilla in response to requests that the punishment be reinstituted for the multiple murder a week ago of a family of four in their home in the upscale Guaynabo neighborhood, in the outskirts of San Juan.

Murdered in the home were the father, his wife and her daughter - both of whom were Peruvians - and the couple's 15-year-old son.

The couple's other son, 13, survived after witnessing the murderers dispatching his other family members and being stabbed, strangled and thrown off a bridge.

The boy's testimony has outraged the vast majority of Puerto Rican society, which is more accustomed to the murders of young men involved with drug trafficking or gangs.

Garcia Padilla said that using the death penalty as a punishment runs the risk of "executing innocents."

Puerto Rico carried out its last execution in 1926 and in 1929 it abolished capital punishment, a move ratified by the island's constitution in 1952 whereby, despite the fact that it is legal elsewhere on U.S. territory, it may not be used on the island, which is a U.S. commonwealth

Source: Fox news, November 24, 2014

Lethal injection drug bill clears Ohio House

Legislation intended to help state officials obtain lethal injection drugs before executions resume in Ohio cleared the Ohio House last week.

House Bill 663 would grant 20 years of anonymity to pharmacies creating lethal injection drug combinations, protect physicians who advise the state on executions and void contracts or agreements that prohibit the sale of lethal injection drugs to the state.

The bill's sponsors, Republican Reps. Jim Buchy of Greenville and Matt Huffman of Lima, said the changes will ensure that Ohio can continue to execute convicted criminals once a federal court-imposed moratorium is lifted.

The bill was amended to allow courts to access drug pharmacy information for "just cause" in legal proceedings and requires pharmacies to apply for confidentiality.

Opponents of the bill said it granted too much secrecy to a process that is already questionable to many.

The House passed the bill in a 62-27 vote on Thursday, and it now heads to the Senate.

Source: cleveland.com, November 25, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Senior court official says China to continue death penalty reform

China's top court said it would study ways of further reducing the number of crimes punishable by death, in an effort to reform a segment of Chinese law widely criticised by international rights groups.

Activists say China uses capital punishment more than any other country, raising public concern of irreversible miscarriages of justice.

In October, the National People's Congress, China's parliament, began reviewing a policy to trim nine crimes from the list of offences subject to the death penalty. Those reforms have yet to be finalised.

Hu Yunteng, a senior researcher at the Supreme People's Court, told a meeting of academics on Saturday that China would deepen death penalty reform.

"[Officials] must thoroughly study how to reduce death penalty crimes, and progressively limit and reduce the scope of the use of the death penalty," the People's Court Daily on Sunday cited Hu as saying.

The use of the death penalty must be "100 percent accurate and guard against any false or unjust charges", Hu said, adding that the role of lawyers must be ensured and the human rights of defendants respected.

Officials have previously said China would review the use of the death penalty, which applies to 55 offences, including fraud and illegal money-lending.

China guards the number of people executed every year as state secrets.

The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, which seeks the release of political prisoners in China, estimated that 2,400 people were executed in 2013. By comparison, 39 people were executed in 2013 in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.


Huugjilt, 18 at the time, was put to death a month after being sentenced, the official Xinhua news agency said. Years after his execution, another man confessed to the murder.

The ruling Communist Party, worried about rising social unrest and anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution, has vowed to carry out legal reforms.

Experts, however, have said the reduction in death penalty crimes is not expected to greatly lower the number of executions per year.

Source: Reuters, November 24, 2014

Pakistan: Christian woman given death sentence under blasphemy law appeals in SC

A Pakistani Christian woman and a mother of 5, convicted under the controversial blasphemy law in 2010, on Monday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging a High Court's ruling upholding her death penalty.

"We filed an appeal today in the Supreme Court (Lahore registry) against the Lahore High Court's verdict in the Asia Bibi case," Asia's counsel advocate Saiful Malook said. He said Asia Bibi, 47, had been implicated in a false blasphemy case and she would prove this in the Supreme Court.

"Supreme Court is the highest forum and Asia Bibi has not given up hope of getting justice," he said. Malook said there had been legal defects in the judgement of the High Court in the case. Last month, a 2-member Lahore High Court bench dismissed the appeal of Asia Bibi after her lawyers failed to prove her innocence in the court.

"We have raised various points in the appeal. The FIR has been registered against Asia under blasphemy laws 5 days after the incident. While in the Ayub Masih case 2002, the Supreme Court had taken notice of a 3-hour delay in registration of FIR and given relief to the accused on this ground.

"The complainant, cleric Muhammad Salam, reported the matter to police 5 days after the incident which is itself a testimony of his being a lair," Malook said while sharing the contents of the appeal.

He said 2 Muslim women who gave statement to police against Asia did not testify in the court. Asia Bibi, a mother of 5, is a resident of Ittan Wali village district Sheikhupura, some 60 kilometers from Lahore. She was arrested in 2009 under blasphemy charges - Section 295 B and C of Pakistan Penal Code, subject to capital punishment - while working in a farm with Muslim women.

Her 2 fellow Muslim women - Asma and her sister - accused her of making drinking water unclean by touching the pot. Christians are prohibited to touch eating or drinking utensils used by Muslims in Pakistan. The Muslim women reported the matter to a local cleric Muhammad Salam who filed a blasphemy complaint against Asia with the police. Asia Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010.

Her case shot to prominence when Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated in January 2011. Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Taseer, in his statement to police said he killed Taseer for calling blasphemy laws "black" and pursuing the case of Asia Bibi.

Saiful Malook was a prosecution lawyer in the Taseer assassination case. During the proceedings, the trial judge left the country because of threats from extremists. Asia's husband has also submitted a plea for clemency to the President Mamnoon Hussain.

Source: firstpost.com, November 24, 2014

Somalia: Jubaland Military Court Executes Soldier for Murder

Execution in Somalia (file picture)
November 22, 2014: Jubaland military court executed a soldier convicted of killing a 9-year-old boy in the southern port city of Kismayo, Garowe Online reports.

The convicted killer-Abdirashid Abdi-was executed by the firing squad with prosecutor-general Hassan Ishaq Yarow present.

Addressing reporters at the scene of the execution, Yarow said that soldiers who deliberately kill civilians will face death penalties.

The death sentence and the subsequent execution mark the first since the new state’s first military course was set up last week.

Meanwhile, Jubaland President Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Madobe) has jetted off to Dubai through Kenyan capital of Nairobi at official invitation.

Jubaland forces are battling Islamist insurgents in deadly offensives on fertile hinterlands along Juba River.

Following IGAD-brokered bilateral talks in Addis Ababa, Somalia’s Federal Government recognized Jubaland in August 2013.

Source: Garowe Online, Nov. 22, 2014

Egypt rejects abolition of death penalty

CAIRO: Egypt will not approve the abolition of the death penalty or equal inheritance for men and women, two of the recommendations from the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, the Ministry of Transitional Justice stated Thursday.

Egypt has “reservations” about the two recommendations for “established constitutional and societal reasons,” the ministry said, adding that the final response to the recommendations would be issued in March.

“In principle, I do not believe the Egyptian society is ready for the abolition of the capital punishment. However, it is necessary that the government narrows down the crimes to which the death sentence applies, so only execution rulings upheld by the Islamic law are implemented,” leading member of the state-funded National Council for Human Rights Hafez Abou Se’da told The Cairo Post Saturday.

Egypt received more than 300 recommendations from 122 states in November, in an almost double rise from the 171 recommendations the country received in the 2010 UPR, of which it accepted 135.

“The government cannot violate the Quran. But, for example, the death penalty for drug dealers has not and will not end bring about any positive result. Also, we are against the execution rulings on political grounds,” Abou Se’da said.

Egyptian law is principally based on Islamic Sharia, however it does not apply all Quranic teaching. Judges traditionally refer cases to the Grand Mufti for consultation on death sentences, but they are not bound to apply the Mufti’s opinion. Further, judges may, but are not obligated to, turn to the codes that stipulate executions.

The 2014 suggestions from the UPR focused on amending the 2013 Protest Law, the proposed NGOs law, and, like in 2010, called for the abolition of the death penalty.

The capital punishment issue follows serious international concern after Egyptian courts in April sentenced 683 to death in primary rulings for their alleged involvement in mass violence, killings and sabotage across Egypt following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Rulings of executions, however, go through several levels of litigation and in many cases are commuted.

With 12 cases, Egypt ranked 17th out of 82 countries that executed convicts in 2007-2012, according to an Amnesty International report. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the U.S. topped the list.

However, in June 2014 alone, Egypt executed some ten people on charges of murder, rape and robbery.

“The implementation of death sentences is a dangerous step regarding the right to life, after Egypt had applied a de facto moratorium since the end of 2011. It is also a worrying precedent in light of the current context where Egyptian courts are upholding mass death sentences against political opponents in trials that are marred by irregularities and violations of due process,” said Karim Lahidji, the president of the International Federation for Human Rights, in a statement June 25.

Some of the crimes punishable by death in Egypt are murder, rape, abduction, drug trafficking, treason, espionage and terrorism.

Execution for civilians in Egypt is implemented by hanging in a private room at prison in the presence of the executioner, a cleric and a judicial official. Minors, the mentally ill and pregnant women are exempted from the punishment.

Source: The Cairo Post, November 22, 2014

Will Texas Kill an Insane Man?

Scott Panetti
Scott Panetti
By any reasonable standard — not to mention the findings of multiple mental-health experts over the years — Mr. Panetti is mentally incompetent. But Texas, along with several other stubborn states, has a long history of finding the loopholes in Supreme Court rulings restricting the death penalty. The state has continued to argue that Mr. Panetti is exaggerating the extent of his illness, and that he understands enough to be put to death — a position a federal appeals court accepted last year, even though it agreed that he was “seriously mentally ill.”

Mr. Panetti has not had a mental-health evaluation since 2007. In a motion hastily filed this month, his volunteer lawyers requested that his execution be stayed, that a lawyer be appointed for him, and that he receive funding for a new mental-health assessment, saying his functioning has only gotten worse. For instance, he now claims that a prison dentist implanted a transmitter in his tooth.

The lawyers would have made this motion weeks earlier, immediately after a Texas judge set Mr. Panetti’s execution date. But since no one — not the judge, not the district attorney, not the attorney general — notified them (or even Mr. Panetti himself), they had no idea their client was scheduled to be killed until they read about it in a newspaper. State officials explained that the law did not require them to provide notification.

On Nov. 19, a Texas court denied the lawyers’ motion. A civilized society should not be in the business of executing anybody. But it certainly cannot pretend to be adhering to any morally acceptable standard of culpability if it kills someone like Scott Panetti.


Source: The New York Tmes, The Editorial Board, November 23, 2014

Oklahoma: Few exonerees receive payment for wrongful convictions

Few exonerees receive payment for wrongful convictions
State compensation laws differ widely

Nationwide, more than 240 people have been exonerated through post-conviction DNA testing. The National Exoneration Registry lists these among nearly 1,500 total cases in which people were exonerated due to new evidence of innocence. Laws to compensate people exonerated in such cases vary widely.

-- Oklahoma is one of 27 states that have a law allowing compensation for wrongful convictions.

-- The state's law provides up to $175,000 to people if their convictions were overturned due to actual innocence. The person must not have pled guilty to receive compensation.

-- 12 states cap the amount exonerees can receive, including Oklahoma. 3 states pay less to exonerees than Oklahoma.

-- 10 states provide for social services such as job training, health care and counseling. Oklahoma does not.

-- Texas is among states with the most generous compensation laws. The state pays exonerees $80,000 per year of imprisonment and provides many social services including medical treatment.

-- The Innocence Project recommends states provide exonerated people $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment, social services and health insurance as well as an "official acknowledgment" of the wrongful conviction.

What Greg Wilhoit really wanted after 5 years on death row was an apology from the state of Oklahoma.

Sure, the money would have made a huge difference in Wilhoit's life after being convicted of murdering his wife, losing his freedom and missing the chance to raise his 2 daughters.

After 12 forensic experts said Wilhoit's teeth did not match a bite mark used to convict him in 1987, an appeals court threw out his conviction. 2 years later, a judge halted Osage County prosecutors' efforts to retry him, telling Wilhoit: "You're free to go."

But after nearly 10 years of fighting to get some compensation following his release, Wilhoit had not seen a dime from the state under its 2003 law providing compensation for wrongful convictions.

A review by the Tulsa World shows Wilhoit's difficulty collecting compensation under the law is not unusual. Few Oklahomans receive any money after their convictions are overturned due to evidence indicating innocence.

Even when Oklahoma passed the law to compensate people like Wilhoit, he was doubtful he'd get any help.

"He never allowed himself to have hope because hope just destroys you," said his sister, Nancy Vollertsen, of Edmond.

The state fought Wilhoit's attempts to collect money under the law, claiming he had not received a finding of "actual innocence" as required. In 2009, the state Supreme Court ruled the law should apply retroactively to Wilhoit's case and others before 2003 because the law requiring such a finding didn't exist then.

With the help of attorney Mark Barrett, Wilhoit eventually convinced the state to pay him something in 2012.

However, it was a fraction of what he could have been paid. Terms of the settlement are confidential but the amount is about 1/3 of the state's $175,000 maximum, Vollertsen said.

The years of hard living and bad luck after his release took their toll on Wilhoit. He began to drink, was diagnosed with PTSD and was partially paralyzed after a car struck him.

Wilhoit died at age 59 on Valentine's Day 2014, about a year after receiving payment from the state.

"There's just no way to come out of an experience like that undamaged, when you sit in a windowless box for 5 years. ... I always told him how much I admired him for even being able to survive it," his sister said.

The World's review shows Wilhoit is among just 6 out of 28 Oklahomans listed on the National Exoneration Registry who collected any money for their years spent in prison. They served an average of 9 years in prison, with 1/2 serving a decade or more.

The National Exoneration Registry is a project founded by the University of Michigan law school. The website tracks cases in which a person was convicted of a crime and later cleared of all charges based on new evidence of innocence.

Of those 28 cases, 11 people were freed after DNA tests showed they were innocent.

Records show 6 people have been freed from Oklahoma's death row after they were exonerated. They include Curtis McCarty, who was sentenced to death 3 times before DNA tests in 2007 showed he was innocent.

Only 1 of those 6 people, Ron Williamson, collected payment from the state.

Like most other states, Oklahoma's wrongful conviction law requires a legal finding of "actual innocence" after convictions are overturned. In practice, the process often requires exonerated people to prove their innocence again in court.

To seek compensation under the law, exonerees must file tort claims from the state or local agency involved in the case. If the agency does not pay the claim within the time allowed by law, the claimant must then file a lawsuit in state court.

The law also allows payment to people who receive a pardon from the state. However the Pardon and Parole Board told Wilhoit the state could not pardon someone considered legally innocent, Vollertsen said.

In a few cases reviewed by the World, exonerees filed federal civil rights lawsuits and won judgments that were thrown out on appeal.

Records show at least 14 of the 28 people filed either a lawsuit or a tort claim, a precursor to a lawsuit that government agencies can pay without going to court.

The World found just 1 case in which the state or a local government agency paid a tort claim without forcing the exoneree to file a lawsuit under the 2003 law. That involved Tulsan Sedrick Courtney, who served 16 years in prison for a robbery and burglary conviction.

Tulsa police told Courtney and the Innocence Project twice that hair from a ski mask and other evidence used to convict him had been destroyed.

Then in 2011, after Courtney had been paroled, the Innocence Project inquired again about the evidence. This time, Tulsa police said they found the hair evidence. A DNA test excluded Courtney as a possible donor of the hairs and in 2012, a judge ruled he had proven his innocence.

Courtney has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Tulsa, claiming the city used manufactured evidence to convict him and obstructed his efforts to prove he was innocent.

Gerald Bender, litigation manager for the city's legal department, said he could not comment on Courtney's case.

In general, Bender said the city has no policy on handling claims filed under the law and "each case is evaluated on its merits."

'The lucky ones'

The city of Tulsa was ordered to pay Arvin McGee the largest judgment to any of the 28 exonerated Oklahomans.

McGee was convicted of the 1987 rape and kidnapping of a Tulsa woman and was released from prison in 2002 after DNA evidence proved his innocence. Later that year, the DNA was matched to a man already serving time for sex crimes.

McGee sued the city of Tulsa in federal court, claiming Tulsa police failed to investigate leads to other suspects adequately, failed to present a photo lineup containing other suspects and failed to present live and voice lineups.

In 2006, a Tulsa federal jury returned a $14.5 million verdict in McGee's favor. He settled with the city and received $12.2 million.

While attending a banquet for the Oklahoma Innocence Project in September, McGee told the World he remains in Tulsa and is raising 2 young children.

"I'm still amazed about the time that some of these guys have done," McGee said. "We're the lucky ones."

Cases such as McGee's illustrate what can happen when jurors hear details of a wrongful conviction. But they are the exception, not the rule.

Out of 11 cases studied by the World in which DNA evidence led to an exoneration, 6 people collected money from the state or other government agency. Besides McGee's case, payments in only 1 other DNA case exceeded $1 million, records show.

Those figures are actually higher than the national average, according to an Innocence Project report. Nationwide, DNA exonerees win lawsuits in about 28 percent of the cases.

"I think there's a false assumption that everybody gets a big payday, because that's what gets the most attention and of course it has happened," said Barrett, Wilhoit's attorney.

Barrett has represented several Oklahoma defendants in high profile cases resulting in exoneration. His clients have included Ron Williamson, whose story was the focus of John Grisham's "The Innocent Man," and Williamson's co-defendant, Dennis Fritz.

Both were convicted in the 1988 murder of a woman in Pontotoc County and exonerated in 1999 through DNA testing. Williamson came within 5 days of being put to death before his release.

Both received undisclosed settlements from the state following their exonerations.

Barrett also represented David Bryson, 1 of 4 people whose convictions were thrown out due to false testimony given by an Oklahoma City police chemist, Joyce Gilchrist.

Even with the widespread attention given to Gilchrist's false testimony and firing, 2 of those people collected nothing from Oklahoma City or the state, records show.

Barrett said the state could improve its law by increasing the amount it pays wrongfully convicted people and reviewing the standard for proving innocence.

"You almost have to be the case - which are not the majority of exonerations - that not only has DNA but has DNA which by its location could have only been placed there by the perpetrator. ... Without solving the case for the prosecution, even the most innocent person who there is absolutely no evidence against cannot prove definitively that they were not the person who did it."

'Not even a penny'

Greg and Kathy Wilhoit had been separated a few weeks when Kathy Wilhoit was found with her throat slashed in her north Tulsa apartment, where she was living with the couple's 2 young daughters.

The sole evidence used to convict Wilhoit in Osage County of his wife's 1985 death was a bite mark on her breast. Osage County District Attorney Larry Stuart found 2 dentists who said the bite mark matched Wilhoit's mouth.

Wilhoit's trial attorney, whose alcoholism was not a secret in the legal community, didn't ask any experts to look at the bite mark evidence. The jury handed Wilhoit a death sentence.

Wilhoit was assigned an appellate attorney, Barrett, who sent the bite mark evidence to 12 of the top forensic dental experts in North America. They weren't told whether the defense or prosecutors sought their opinions.

All 12 returned reports finding no evidence that Wilhoit's teeth matched the bite mark.

Use of bite-mark evidence in criminal cases has since been discredited. It has a 63 % rate of false identifications, the American Board of Odontology found in one study.

Still, it would take Wilhoit 4 years until the Court of Criminal Appeals examined the evidence and overturned his conviction.

During that time, the state carried out its 1st execution since the 1970s. Wilhoit's cell was about 100 feet from the death chamber. The experience led him to become a leading advocate of abolishing the death penalty, speaking across the nation about his experience.

In a 2003 interview posted on the Death Penalty Information Center's website, Wilhoit described the toll his wrongful conviction had on his life:

"I have been out more than 10 years. The toughest parts have been re-assimilating into society, and dealing with emotional and psychological damage from my experience. I lost the opportunity to raise my 2 daughters. I never received an apology. ... Every time I tell my story, it validates my experience. I tell what happened to me, how I feel, and let people draw their own conclusions."

Source: Tulsa World, November 23, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pennsylvania: Governor Corbett Signs Three New Execution Warrants

Governor Tom Corbett today signed execution warrants for 3 men: 1 convicted of murder for the shooting death of a Philadelphia County police officer; 1 convicted for murdering a Fayette County couple and their daughter; and, 1 convicted for killing his girlfriend in Lawrence County.

Christopher Roney was convicted in Philadelphia County Court of 1st-degree murder for the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Lauretha Vaird on January 2, 1996.

Mark Duane Edwards was convicted in Fayette County Court of 3 counts of 1st-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Larry Bobish Sr., his wife Joanna Bobish, and their 17-year-old pregnant daughter Krystal Bobish on April 14, 2002.

Dennis C. Reed was convicted in Lawrence County Court of 1st-degree murder for the shooting death of Wendy Miller, his girlfriend and mother of his son, on December 16, 2001.

All 3 men are incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Greene. Roney's execution has been scheduled for January 8, 2015; Edwards' execution has been scheduled for January 13, 2015; Reed's execution has been scheduled for January 15, 2015.

The execution warrants signed today for Roney, Edwards and Reed were Governor Corbett's 41st, 42nd, and 43rd warrants signed, respectively, since taking office.

Executions in Pennsylvania are carried out by lethal injection.

Source: yourerie.com, Nov. 22, 2014

Activists seek compassionate release for terminally ill Texas death row inmate

Activists delivered a petition to Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday with more than 100,000 signatures seeking the release of a death row inmate they say is terminally ill and only has weeks to live.

The governor's office was not immediately available to comment on the petition launched by religious groups and activists including the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Max Soffar, convicted in the July 1980 slaying of 3 people at a Houston bowling alley.

"This is the time for mercy - let's not let him fall through the cracks of justice; let's not let him die behind bars," the petition said. It is seeking clemency so that he can die at home.

Soffar's case has been the focus of anti-death penalty campaigners for years. They have said he is an innocent man largely convicted on the basis of a confession signed after days of "oppressive interrogation" and without clear objective evidence pointing to his guilt.

The state has maintained the confession was voluntary, lawful and implicates him as the murderer.

Soffar, 58, has been on death row for more than 30 years. He was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in July 2014 and was told at that time that he only has months to live, according to court papers filed on his behalf.

The 3 people killed at the bowling alley were Arden Fisher, 17, her boyfriend Tommy Temple, 17, and Stephen Sims, 25. All 3 were shot execution-style with a handgun, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

Source: Reuters, Nov. 22, 2014

Sister of Mentally Ill Texas Man Sentenced to Die in December Pleads to Rick Perry to Spare His Life

Scott Panetti
Scott Panetti
The sister of Scott Panetti, a paranoid schizophrenic set to be executed by the state of Texas on Dec. 3 for the murder of 2 people, has pleaded with Gov. Rick Perry to commute his sentence to life in prison. Victoria Panetti has said that her brother, who believes he's being executed for preaching the Gospel, does not understand fact from fiction, and started an online petition asking Perry to spare his life.

"Having a brother on death row is like having a terminally ill family member. But there's 1 big difference: we can't stop a terminal illness, but we can stop Texas from killing a mentally ill man," Victoria Panetti wrote in a letter alongside the Change.org petition.

"I know it's hard to see beyond the fact that Scott took 2 lives, but he suffers from a severe illness that changed the way his mind works. He doesn't understand fact from fiction. He's still my big brother, the strong and handsome sailor who served in the Navy."

On Wednesday, Texas Judge Keith Williams refused to postpone Panetti's execution, which means the mentally ill convicted killer is set to be put to death by lethal injection on Dec. 3.

The 56-year-old man was found guilty of murdering his parents-in-law in 1992. His death sentence was initially scheduled to be carried out in 2004, but a federal judge stayed the order at the time.

Panetti has suffered from schizophrenia and various other mental disorders for over 30 years, and had been hospitalized 12 times due to psychotic behavior before he committed the murders. He has indicated that he believes that he's in a battle with Satan, and has attempted to subpoena the Pope, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus Christ while representing himself in trial.

Both mental health professionals and over 50 Evangelical leaders have opposed his execution, arguing that he does not understand why he's being put to death.

"If his execution date is not withdrawn, he will go to the execution chamber convinced that he's being put to death for preaching the Gospels, not for the murder of his wife's parents, and the retributive goal of capital punishment will not be served," the Texas Defender Service group warned.

Evangelical leaders who also wrote to Perry stated: "As Christians, we are called to protect the most vulnerable, and we count Mr. Panetti - a man who has suffered from severe mental illness for over 30 years - to be among them. If ever there was a clear case of an individual suffering from mental illness, this is it."

The case has attracted attention overseas as well, with the European Union asking Texas to grant Panetti clemency.

"The execution of persons suffering from a mental disorder is contrary to widely accepted human rights norms and is in contradiction to the minimum standards of human rights set forth in several international human rights instruments," the EU wrote in a separate letter.

In her online petition, Victoria Panetti argued that her brother is not a "cold-blooded killer," but a "very sick person."

"The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Constitution forbids the execution of severely mentally ill individuals who do not understand the reason for their punishment. Scott is not mentally competent: he would go to the execution chamber believing his fixed delusion that he's being put to death for preaching the Gospels, not for the murder of his wife's parents," she continued.

"It's not right for our country to use capital punishment on a severely mentally ill person like my brother Scott."

The petition has so far been signed by over 26,000 people.

Source: Christian Post, November 22, 2014

Arizona: Attorneys ask judge to hold off on execution suit

A lawsuit challenging the secrecy of execution protocols in Arizona will likely be put on hold pending the investigation of the nearly 2-hour execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood last summer.

Both the state and defense attorneys have agreed to request that the lawsuit be halted temporarily until the review of an investigation by an independent agency is released. That report, by a group of former prison directors, was expected to be released in mid-November but it so far has not come out.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Wood and other death-row inmates says they and the public have a right to know about specific execution protocols such as the types of drugs used in lethal injections and the companies that supply them.

The July 23 execution of Wood, convicted of murdering his estranged girlfriend and her father, called into question the efficacy of the drugs used after it took nearly two hours for Wood to die. He gasped repeatedly before taking his final breath.

Wood's attorney, Dale Baich, says the execution was botched, a claim Arizona Department of Corrections officials adamantly deny. A spokesman for the agency could not be reached for comment late Friday evening.

State officials have agreed to not seek any death warrants while the case is pending. The mutual agreement also states that Arizona officials will consider changing execution protocols. If they do change them, they will make the new protocols public, according to the joint agreement.

"The whole purpose of this is to put the litigation on hold so the facts and issues could be better developed," Baich said.

The secrecy that surrounds executions in Arizona and other states has been a source of contention since they stopped making public details such as the drug manufacturers and drug combinations in 2010. That's when states that have the death penalty began having trouble accessing the necessary drugs because European drugmakers stopped supplying them.

A group of media organizations including The Associated Press has filed a lawsuit also contending that the information is of public interest and the public has a right to know.

Wood was given 15 doses of the sedative midazolam and a painkiller before he died.

Source: Associated Press, November 22, 2014