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As Trial in South Carolina Execution-Method Challenge Begins, Review of State’s Death Penalty Reveals System that is Biased, Arbitrary, and Error-Prone

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As the trial challenging South Carolina’s execution methods began on August 1, 2022, a review of the state’s death penalty by the Greenville News revealed a pattern of discrimination, geographic arbitrariness, and high error rates in the implementation of the punishment.  In a two-part examination, reporter Kathryn Casteel analyzed racial and county demographics on death row, reversal rates in capital cases, and the timing of death sentences to provide context for the state’s efforts to institute the electric chair and firing squad as its primary execution methods. RELATED |  Future of South Carolina death penalty now rests with judge Four of South Carolina’s 35 death-row prisoners are suing the state to block a law that would force them to choose between electrocution and firing squad as methods of execution. One of the men, Richard Moore, wrote in an April legal filing, “I believe this election is forcing me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution.” Executions ar

Oklahoma | Law firm releases ‘newly discovered’ evidence in Glossip case

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A law firm has released new evidence that they say brings into question the guilt of an Oklahoma death row inmate. Richard Glossip has been on death-row for 25 years for the murder of Barry Van Treese. The case goes back to 1997, when Glossip and Justin Sneed were convicted of killing Glossip’s boss and owner of the Best Budget Inn, Barry Van Treese. Sneed confessed to beating Van Treese with a bat. However, Sneed testified that Glossip hired him to kill Van Treese. In exchange for his testimony, Sneed was given a life sentence. Glossip was sentenced to death. Earlier this year, Texas-based law firm, Reed Smith, agreed to independently investigate the case for free . After 3,000 hours of work and a nearly 350-page report , they determined “no reasonable jury would have convicted Richard Glossip.” Investigators pointed to flawed interrogations, lack of crime scene logs, and missing evidence. On Wednesday, the law firm released newly discovered evidence in the ca

UK | British Olympic Diver Tom Daley Fights For LGBT Rights In New Documentary

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British Olympic diver Tom Daley created his new documentary "Illegal to Be Me" to increase LGBT visibility and subvert systemic homophobia. British Olympic champion Tom Daley has taken it upon himself to shed light on an issue he cares deeply about. The four-time Olympic medalist and three-time world diving champion features in a recently released documentary where he visits some of the most homophobic nations in the Commonwealth. “Did you know 35 of the 56 countries involved in the Commonwealth Games still criminalize same-sex relationships and seven have the death penalty?,” Daley reveals in the doc. On Tuesday, BBC1 and iPlayer broadcasted the new feature, Tom Daley: Illegal to Be Me, at 9 p.m. to share Daley’s advocacy for LGBT rights with viewers around the world. Daley made his first appearance at an international competition at just 12 years old. His elite diving career started at the 2007 Australian Youth Olympic Festival where he won silver with synchro-partner Call

Oklahoma attorney general won't support Richard Glossip's request for new hearing

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Oklahoma's attorney general has denied a request from more than one-third of the state's lawmakers to support a new hearing for a death row inmate who claims he is innocent. Richard Glossip is requesting an evidentiary hearing from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and 61 lawmakers, mostly Republican, wrote a letter to Attorney General John O'Connor asking for his support of the hearing. With O'Connor's denial, the court is expected to reject Glossip's innocence claims, as it has done before. “While my office has the utmost respect for the opinions of the members of the Legislature who signed a letter in support of Glossip’s request for an evidentiary hearing, it is the courts who are authorized to make decisions regarding claims of factual or legal innocence raised on appeal,” O’Connor said in a letter. “With that in mind, I look to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to carefully consider the claims before it and render a decision that complies with

Iran | Man Executed for Drug Offences in Arak

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Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); August 10, 2022: Mehdi Nourkarami, a man sentenced to death for drug-related charges was secretly executed in Arak Central Prison. According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, a man was executed in Arak Central Prison on August 10.  His identity has been established as 37-year-old Mehdi Nourkarami who was sentenced to death for drug-related charges by the Revolutionary Court. An informed source told Iran Human Rights: “Mehdi Nourkarami was arrested three years ago and was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court without a lawyer, because he couldn’t afford one. He was executed without his family being informed and the last visit.” At the time of writing, his execution has not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to reports compiled by Iran Human Rights, at least 126 people were executed on drug-related charges in 2021, a fivefold increase compared to drug executions in the previous three years. This trend has contin

Iran | Probable Juvenile Offender Executed in Qom

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Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); August 10, 2022: Mohammad Hossein Alizadeh, an Afghan national who is reported to have been 17 years old at the time of a murder in defence of his cousin against a group attack, was executed in Qom Central Prison. Iran Human Rights is working to verify his age. According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, an Afghan man was executed in Qom Central Prison on August 10. His identity has been established as 24-year-old Mohammad Hossein Alizadeh who was sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for murder. An informed source told Iran Human Rights: “Mohammad Hossein Alizadeh was arrested in 2016 accused of committing a murder during a mass fight in Qom and sentenced to death. He was 17 years old at the time of arrest and had got into the fight when several people attacked his cousin on the street and caused the killing in his defence.” Iran Human Rights has been unable to independently verify his age and is continuing its investigations. Mohammad Hossei

Texas | Upcoming Execution Based on Discredited Forensic Science

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Kosoul Chanthakoummane is set to be executed August 17 for the murder of a Dallas realtor in a case built on hypnosis and faulty evidence. Kosoul Chanthakoummane, the son of Laotian immigrants, is set to be executed on Aug. 17 in Texas for the murder of Dallas-area realtor Sarah Walker. On the afternoon of July 8, 2006, Walker’s body was discovered by a couple visiting a model home in the Craig Ranch subdivision in McKinney. She had been stabbed 33 times, but the Collin County Medical Examiner noted that ten knife wounds had punctured vital organs or blood vessels—any one would have been fatal. She had put up a fight. She had a broken nose and fractured teeth. And—a point that would later prove critical at the trial—she had a bite mark on the back of her neck. Discredited forensic techniques were subsequently used to help convict Chanthakoummane of capital murder, including long-debunked bite mark evidence and hypnosis of witnesses. Forensic dentistry consultant Brent Hutson was broug

Georgia | Father, son get life for hate crime in Arbery’s death

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) -- The white father and son who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery in a Georgia neighborhood each received a second life prison sentence Monday -- for committing federal hate crimes, months after getting their first for murder -- at a hearing that brought a close to more than two years of criminal proceedings. U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood handed down the sentences against Travis McMichael, 36, and his father, Greg McMichael, 66, reiterating the gravity of the February 2020 killing that shattered their Brunswick community. William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, who recorded cellphone video of the slaying, was sentenced to 35 years in prison. "A young man is dead. Ahmaud Arbery will be forever 25. And what happened, a jury found, happened because he's Black," Wood said. The McMichaels were previously sentenced to life without parole in state court for Arbery's murder and had asked the judge to divert them to a federal prison to serve their

Oklahoma prisons director who oversaw executions retiring

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow (pictured), who helped oversee the state’s return to carrying out the death penalty after a nearly seven-year hiatus, announced Monday he’s stepping down. In a statement announcing his resignation, Crow did not cite a reason for stepping down, but called it “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever encountered.” Crow, who was appointed director by Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2019 following nearly 25 years with the agency, helped oversee the state’s return to carrying out lethal injections.  In 2020, he joined Stitt and then-Attorney General Mike Hunter in announcing that the state had secured a source for the lethal injection drugs and planned to move forward with executions that were put on hold following a series of death-chamber mishaps. Crow was inside the death chamber for the last four lethal injections in Oklahoma, including the October 2021 execution of John Marion Grant who convulsed and vomited on the gu