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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

A Tragedy of Errors: The corkscrew case of Rogers Lacaze

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In "Case in Point," Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character that sheds light on the criminal justice system. An audio version of Case in Point is broadcast with The Takeaway, a public radio show from WNYC, Public Radio International, The New York Times, and WGBH-Boston Public Radio.
Pretend for a moment that you are an 18-year-old black man in Louisiana in 1995 and you've been charged with murdering a white police officer and 2 others, the children of the owner of the restaurant where the crime took place. It's sensational news in New Orleans in part because you have a co-defendant in the case, herself a police officer, Antoinette Frank, who immediately implicates you in the crime. Prosecutors seek the death penalty against you and your judge sets your capital case for trial just over 4 months after the crime.
You have a defense attorney who has never tried a death-penalty case before and who agrees to do so in exchange for your family's promise to give …

Driver Of Deadly Immigrant Smuggling Run Avoids Death Penalty With Guilty Plea

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The semitruck driver who transported dozens of immigrants in his sweltering trailer this summer from Laredo to San Antonio — where police arrested him in a Walmart parking lot and later charged him in the deaths of 10 of the immigrants — pleaded guilty Monday to smuggling.
James Matthew Bradley, 61, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death. He faces up to life in prison when he's sentenced by a federal judge in January.
On July 23, police responding to a call found the trailer in the parking lot of the Walmart on the South Side. Eight of the 39 undocumented immigrants at the scene were dead, and two later succumbed to heat-related injuries. The dead were from Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico. Police found Bradley in the cab.
Immigrants interviewed by investigators said that anywhere from 70 to 200 people were crowded into the overheated trailer, with only one small vent for air, according…

Zimbabwe: 50 apply for hangman's post

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Over 50 Zimbabwean job-seekers have applied for the hangman's post which had remained vacant since 2005, a top official in the Justice ministry has said. 
Justice ministry secretary Virginia Mabhiza said her office would soon go through the applications, but would not give a timeline as to when the appointment will be made. 
"The response has been overwhelming and the applications have been from both men and women interested in taking up the position of hangman. We have received over 50 applications in the past few months. 
"People are very interested," Mabhiza said yesterday. 
Zimbabwe last executed a prisoner on death row in 2005 and international rights lobby group Amnesty International has applauded the country for the "10-year hiatus", urging authorities to declare an official moratorium on the death penalty. 
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the immediate past Justice minister, has consistently declared Zimbabwe would not implement the dea…

Another push to end Utah’s death penalty is likely for the 2018 legislative session

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Advocates for abolishing Utah’s death penalty system say they plan to push lawmakers to end capital punishment in the 2018 legislative session.
Legislators came close to stopping the punishment in 2016 — but the bill never reached the House floor before the midnight deadline on the last night of session.
"Still, it was exciting to see it come that close," said Darcy Van Orden, the executive director of the Utah Justice Coalition. And at a Tuesday evening panel hosted by Young Americans for Liberty, Van Orden said they are planning to make another run at abolishing the death penalty in 2018. They already have their Senate sponsor, she told attendees, and are looking for someone in the House of Representatives to back the bill.
“More to come on this,” she told the audience.
A bill to abolish the death penalty wasn’t brought up in the 2016 session, though lawmakers then had considered studying the costs of the death penalty. The bill, however, never came up for a final Senate …

India: Debate begins on capital punishment alternative methods

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Plea in Supreme Court wants execution by hanging to be judged against global opinion and evolving standards of human decency
The last execution carried out by the state was that of Yakub Memon, in 2015. Convicted for his role in the 1993 Bombay blasts case, the charted accountant was hanged at the Nagpur central jail. Relatives weren’t allowed to attend the event. Instead, his death was witnessed only by a magistrate, a doctor, and a few prison officials.
Now, nobody but the people present at the spot know how Memon suffered through his last moments among the living. Did death come instantly, or did he suffer? They aren’t saying.
Over 1,414 convicts have been hanged since Independence, but there is just as little information on how agonising their final moments were. So, why has this issue suddenly become relevant now, after all these years?
At death’s door: An investigation into capital punishment in India
A public interest litigation has once again ignited a moral debate on the quest…

Death penalty abolition 'not easy' in Thailand

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It is not easy to abolish the death penalty in Thailand, the director-general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department says.
Department chief Pitikarn Pitikarn Sithidej told a meeting held on Tuesday to consider the possibility of abolishing the capital punishment. 
Also present was Colin Steinbach, head of the political, press and information office of the EU delegation to Thailand. 
The meeting is held to mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty on Oct 10.
Ms Pitikarn said that abolishing the death penalty does not mean offenders will not receive punishment they deserve
But the aim is to end the death penalty, which is seen as a cruel, inhumane, and uneconomical means of punishment, and to reduce the chance of wrongful execution.
The death penalty goes against the human rights principles and most prisoners on death row are the underprivileged who cannot afford to hire capable lawyers, Ms Pitikarn said.
There is no proof that the death penalty can deter crime, she added.

Petition: Free Iranian Youth Sina Dehghan, Sentenced To Death For "Insulting The Prophet"

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An Iranian 21-year-old has been sentenced to death after 'insulting the prophet' of Islam on an instant messaging app.
Sina Dehghan was 19 when he was arrested by the Iranian revolutionary guard at a military barracks in Tehran in October 2015 for insulting the national religion on the messaging app LINE.
Human rights activists claim that Dehghan was fooled into siging his own confession under the belief that he would be released without punishment if he did so.
But after signing the confession, prosecutors dropped the agreement and kept Dehghan incarcerated at Arak Prison.
His death penalty was confirmed in January when it was upheld in the country's Supreme Court, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
'During his interrogation, Sina was told that if he signed a confession and repented, he would be pardoned and let go,' a source told CHRI. 'Unfortunately, he made a childish decision and accepted the charges. Then they sentenced him to death.…

Justices Won’t Review Florida Death-Penalty Cases

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(CN) – Three liberal justices dissented Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of a challenge to Florida’s death-sentencing procedures, saying the high court should have decided whether jurors being told their verdict was merely advisory diminished their sense of responsibility.
In March 2010, Quentin Marcus Truehill and two cellmates at the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office in Mansura, Louisiana, held the holding-cell officer hostage, according to court records.
Truehill then attacked the booking officer with a shank, and the three men escaped. They stole a truck and committed a series of crimes on their way from Louisiana to Miami, Florida.
The decomposed body of Vincent Binder was found in an open field near St. Augustine, Fla., soon after police learned that Truehill used Binder’s credit card the night he went missing.
Truehill was convicted of murdering and kidnapping Binder, and was sentenced to death.
He appealed, but the Florida Supreme Court affirmed his convictions …

Virginia: Prosecutors to pursue death penalty against man accused of killing Nabra Hassanen

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Fairfax County prosecutors will pursue the death penalty against the man accused in the high-profile killing of a 17-year-old Muslim girl, who was abducted as she walked to her mosque over the summer, authorities said.
Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh (D) made the announcement Monday after a Fairfax County grand jury returned an eight-count indictment against 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres for capital murder, rape and other charges in connection with the slaying of Nabra Hassanen of Reston, Va.
“You conform the charges to what the evidence will show,” Morrogh said. “It is my intention to seek the death penalty.”
Morrogh declined to discuss the evidence that led to the indictments since the case is pending, but it was the first time that authorities indicated that they believed Nabra was sexually assaulted in the June 18 attack.
In addition to the rape charge, Torres is accused of abducting Nabra with intent to defile and object sexual penetration.
Fairfax…

Execution stayed for Alabama man convicted of killing cop

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A federal court granted a stay of execution for Alabama death row inmate Torrey Twane McNabb, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday.
The order was issued on Monday by Chief U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins of the Middle District of Alabama Northern Division.
The state has appealed the stay.
The execution was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Hollman Correctional Facility in Atmore.
McNabb has spent the last 18 years on death row, after being convicted of fatally shooting Montgomery police officer Anderson Gordon in September 1997. 
McNabb was convicted on two capital murder counts-- one for killing Gordon while he was on duty, and one for killing him as Gordon sat in his patrol car. 
McNabb also was found guilty of two additional counts of attempted murder.
McNabb's attorney John Anthony Palombi, an assistant federal defender, filed an emergency motion for stay of execution on Oct. 11. 
The defense claims the "challenged method of execution presents…