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“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

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The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

El regreso de la pena de muerte federal en Estados Unidos

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El 25 de julio, en un inesperado anuncio, el fiscal general de Estados Unidos, William Barr, afirmó que el gobierno federal iba a reanudar las ejecuciones, con cinco de ellas programadas para los próximos meses. 
Esto anula una moratoria efectiva sobre la pena de muerte a nivel federal que ha durado más de 16 años. El fiscal general Barr dijo en su anuncio: “El castigo debe ser rápido”. 
Apenas una semana después, el presidente Donald Trump aprovechó los asesinatos en masa en El Paso, Texas y Dayton, Ohio, para exigir no una prohibición de las armas de asalto, sino más ejecuciones: “Hoy también voy a ordenarle al Departamento de Justicia que proponga legislación que asegure que aquellos que cometan crímenes de odio y asesinatos en masa enfrenten la pena de muerte, y que este castigo sea aplicado de forma rápida, decisiva y sin años de retraso innecesario”. 
¿Retraso innecesario? Desde 1973, más de 160 personas injustamente condenadas han sido liberadas del pabellón de la muerte.
De h…

Department Of Justice Action Prompts Arizona To Renew Pursuit Of Death Penalty Drugs

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Assistant Federal Public Defender Dale Baich has witnessed 11 executions by lethal injection.
“It’s ... eerily silent,” he said recalling the experience. “In the witness room, the witnesses don’t speak. There is a low hum of the air-conditioning unit and occasionally a voice coming over the speakers announcing that 'the prisoner is sedated' or that 'the execution is complete.'"
But in 2014, during the execution of his client Joseph Wood at the state prison in Florence, something went wrong. The announcements kept repeating. "The prisoner remains sedated. The prisoner remains sedated." But Wood wasn’t acting sedated.
“We could hear the sound that was coming from Mr. Wood," Baich said, "and it sounded like, like a freight train."
Wood’s mouth was open. He was bucking against the restraints and making a sucking, gulping, gasping sound. It went on for two hours before the announcement finally came that the execution was complete.
The dramatic …

Serial Killer Arrested by Santa Monica Police Faces Death Penalty

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A jury on Thursday found convicted serial killer Michael Gargiulo, known as the "Hollywood Ripper," was sane when he murdered 2 women and attempted to murder a third in her Santa Monica apartment.
The 6-man, 6-woman panel deliberated for several hours before making the finding against Gargiulo, 43, who now faces the death penalty.
Gargiulo was found guilty last week of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder "with the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and lying in wait, making him eligible for the death penalty," prosecutors said Thursday.
He also was convicted of 1 count of "willful, deliberate and premeditated attempted murder and attempted escape ("Jury Finds Former Santa Monica Resident Guilty of Double Murder," August 16, 2019).
The penalty phase of the trial is expected to begin September 9, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
Prosecutors said Gargiulo, a former handyman and aspiring actor, committed a series "…

Australian convicted of cooking up his own cocaine could now face death penalty in Bali

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Ryan Williams was already jailed for 5 years. But a bizarre legal loophole could see him face the death penalty.
An Australian man sentenced to a shock 5 years in a Bali jail for cooking up his own cocaine and who decided not to appeal and risk the death penalty has now been told the death penalty is back on the table.
Bizarrely it comes as Sydney man Ryan Scott Williams finds himself with an unlikely ally wielding a double-edged sword.
His accusers, whose actions in appealing for a lighter sentence for him have again opened the door to the very thing he hoped to avoid by not appealing himself - the death penalty or a higher sentence.
This is because, on appeals, it is open to the High Court to increase sentences, not just decrease them.
Prosecutors have decided to lodge an appeal against the 5-year sentence handed down to Williams on the basis, they argue, that the law used against him was not appropriate to his crime.
The 45-year-old was convicted in Denpasar District Court earlier …

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg treated for new pancreatic cancer

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was recently treated for a "localized malignant tumor" on her pancreas, a court spokesperson said Friday.
"The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body," spokesperson Kathy Arberg said.
The news, coming during the court's summer recess, is the second cancer scare for Ginsburg in the last year. In December 2018, doctors removed part of her lung after discovering cancerous nodules. Recovery from the surgery caused Ginsburg to miss public court sessions for the first time in her 25 years on the bench.
"When they say 'localized,' it means cancer has not spread outside the pancreas. That in itself is usually a good sign," said ABC News medical contributor Dr. Nithin Paul on "The Briefing Room" on ABC News Live. "When it’s a localized cancer, the American Cancer Society says there’s about a 34% chance of surviving to at least 5 years – but that’…

Florida: The last words of the serial killer who was executed for murdering six gay men

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The last words of serial killer Gary Ray Bowles have been revealed in a statement read after his execution.
Bowles, 57, was put to death at a prison in Florida on Thursday, August 22, 23 years after he was sentenced to death over the murders of six gay men.
He opted to eat cheeseburgers, french fries and bacon as his last meal.
In his final words, read to reporters after his death, Bowles attempted to apologise to his mother.
‘You don’t wake up and decide to become a serial killer.’
He said: “I’m sorry for all the pain and suffering I have caused. I hope my death eases your pain.
“I want to tell my mother that I am also sorry for my actions.
“Having to deal with your son being called a monster is terrible. I’m so very sorry.
“I never wanted this to be my life. You don’t wake up one day and decide to become a serial killer.”
Bowles had not previously expressed remorse for his actions, saying in a 2014 interview with A&E: “It’s not hard to kill somebody… you can kill somebody prett…

Florida ejecuta a un asesino en serie de homosexuales

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Gary Ray Bowles asesinó a seis hombres en 1994 a los que ahogó con distintos objetos
El estado de Florida ejecutó este jueves a Gary Ray Bowles, un asesino en serie de hombres homosexuales adultos que en el transcurso de ocho meses en 1994 mató a seis personas.
A Bowles, de 57 años, le declararon muerto a las 22.58 hora local (02.58 del viernes GMT) tras recibir una inyección letal en la Prisión Estatal de Florida, en el norteño condado Bradford, y después de que la Corte Suprema de EEUU desestimara una apelación de última hora presentada por su defensa.
El Departamento de Correcciones de Florida informó de que en el que ha sido su último día con vida, Bowles no recibió ninguna visita y que su última comida consistió en tres hamburguesas con queso, patatas fritas y tocino.
Bowles fue condenado a muerte por el asesinato en noviembre de 1994 en Jacksonville Beach (Florida) de Walter Hinton, el último de sus seis crímenes cometidos a lo largo de tres estados de la costa este, en las inme…

Florida executes Gary Ray Bowles

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Serial killer who preyed on gay men executed at Florida State Prison. Bowles was condemned for the murder of Walter Hinton in Jacksonville Beach – one of the killings that terrorized the East Coast’s Interstate 95 corridor in an eight-month span in 1994.

Hinton was Bowles’ sixth and final known victim in a spree that began in Daytona Beach with the slaying of John Hardy Roberts. In between, there were victims in Rockville, Maryland; Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta and Nassau County, Florida.
(CNN) -- Florida has put to death the man known as the "I-95 killer," who was convicted of killing three people and admitted to killing several more in a 1994 spree targeting gay men.
The Supreme Court decided late Thursday not to stay the execution.
The high court was mulling a last-ditch appeal Thursday from 57-year-old Gary Ray Bowles, whose lawyers contended he is too intellectually disabled to be executed.
The execution was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday but was delayed while the Supreme C…

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Ends Her Silence On Death Penalty Bill, But Has Made No Decisions

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Brown says she is meeting with stakeholders on both sides and has staff reviewing legislative history of Senate Bill 1013.
In a group call with reporters today, Gov. Kate Brown broke her silence on Senate Bill 1013, the controversial legislation that was aimed at gutting Oregon's death penalty but instead sowed widespread confusion.
After Brown signed the bill into law, Oregon's Solicitor General Benjamin Gutman reversed his earlier position, as The Oregonian reported, and opined that the bill appeared to be retroactive, which meant it could result in sentence reductions for people previously convicted of aggravated murder.
That's a major problem—not just because the families of victims, victims' advocacy groups and prosecutors are outraged by the possibility of retroactive sentence reductions, but also because the Democratic supermajorities and the governor risk political damage from having apparently botched the reworking of a highly contentious issue.
The solicitor …