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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Sarawak police score biggest drug seizure; 2 suspects face possible mandatory death penalty

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KUCHING: Sarawak police have seized 11kg of syabu and 993 ecstasy pills packed and labelled as Chinese tea brands - the largest haul of the illicit drugs in the state so far this year.
Authorities valued the seizure to be worth more than RM3.4 million.
Acting on a tip-off and a nine-month-long surveillance later, a team from the state Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) stormed a house in Jalan Stutong here at 1.30pm on Thursday and confiscated the drugs.
State deputy police commissioner Datuk Dzuraidi Ibrahim said the team found a total of 11kg of syabu and 993 ecstasy pills in the house.
“Two men, both 27, were also arrested in the raid,” he told reporters at the state police headquarters here today.
Dzuraidi said the syabu was packed and labelled as Chinese tea from the Guan Ying Wang and Qing Shan brands.
“The drugs were stuffed inside an unused aquarium, which was placed inside a storeroom of the house.
“Each of the syabu packets weigh about one kilogramme,” he sa…

Kenya: Man to hang for stealing toothpaste and toothbrush

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A man who violently stole Sh16, a toothbrush and toothpaste faces the death penalty after his appeal was dismissed. 
James Muchangi was sentenced to death by a magistrate’s court in 2010 and has since been fighting for his freedom. His appeals at the High Court and the Court of Appeal have flopped and sealed his fate. 
On March 20, 2008, at about 5am, John Kanyingi was walking to a bus stage in Kahawa Wendani when two men armed with a panga and a piece of metal confronted him. They frisked his pockets and stole a black bag that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste and Sh16. 
The robbers cut Kanyingi on the left side of the face below the eye. He later reported the incident at Kahawa Police Post and was issued with a P3 form. 
On April 2, 2008, he was called by the police that two people had been arrested. The following day, the officers proceeded to Muchangi’s house and found Kanyingi's black bag hanging on the wall. 
Muchangi and his accomplice were then charged in court. The co-ac…

Sudanese student sentenced to death for alleged murder of policeman

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September 24, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - A Sudanese court sentenced a university student to death by hanging on Sunday for the alleged killing a policeman during protests last year, triggering protests after the verdict.
Last August, Khartoum North Criminal Court found Asim Omer, 21 years, guilty of premeditated murder, however, the judge delayed the sentencing until the 24th September to listen to the victim’s family and make them decide on whether the convict should be punished or receive a pardon.
The Khartoum court, headed by Judge Abdeen Dahi, sentenced Omer to death by hanging, pointing that the family of the deceased’s family refused blood money and demanded the death sentence.
Omer is a student at the University of Khartoum, he was arrested by the Sudanese security service and accused of killing a police officer who died after a hit by a Molotov cocktail during the student protests in April 2016.
The trial session which was held amid tight security measures was attended by representat…

Mass Killer Scott Dekraai Gets Life In Prison In Case Tainted By Government Misconduct

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The judge had removed the death penalty as an option because of law enforcement’s misuse of a jailhouse informant.
Scott Dekraai, the shooter in the worst mass killing in Orange County, California, history, was sentenced on Friday to eight consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.
He should have received the death penalty but for a government misconduct linked to a jail informant programme.
The sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals amounted to one life term for each person Dekraai shot and killed at a Seal Beach salon in 2011. He received an additional seven years to life for the victim who survived his rampage.
Last month, in a rare move, Goethals had excluded the death penalty as a punishment option after concluding that county prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies had engaged in misconduct in the use of the county’s now-notorious jail informant programme.
The sentencing comes after Goethals held weeks of hearings centred on whether the …

Death penalty discussion in Belarus: yet not ready for either abolition or moratorium

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The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. 
Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. 
During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independe…

Tennessee: Man guilty of raping, murdering Tennessee nursing student avoids death penalty

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A Tennessee man avoided a possible death penalty by agreeing Saturday to a sentence of life in prison plus 50 years for the kidnapping, rape and killing of nursing student Holly Bobo.
Judge C. Creed McGinley told a jury that Zachary Adams made a deal with prosecutors just minutes ahead of his sentencing hearing. Adams, 33, was convicted Friday of murder, especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape after an 11-day jury trial in Savannah, Tennessee.
Under the agreement, Adams received a state prison term of life without parole for Bobo's killing. He was sentenced to consecutive terms of 25 years for both the kidnapping and rape convictions.
Bobo was 20 when she disappeared from her home in rural Parsons on April 13, 2011. Her remains were found by 2 men who were hunting for ginseng not far from her Decatur County home in September 2014.
Bobo's vanishing led to a massive search of the farms, fields and barns of western Tennessee. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has…

Arizona doesn't have to reveal execution drug sources: Judge

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Arizona does not have to reveal who provides its execution drugs, a judge ruled Thursday in a lawsuit arguing that the information would help the public determine whether the death penalty is carried out humanely and promote confidence in the criminal justice system.
The decision marked a defeat for news organizations, including The Associated Press, that sued to get the information released. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled that the media outlets didn't show they had a First Amendment right to knowing the suppliers of lethal injection drugs.
The judge said the First Amendment protects the right of people to argue about the death penalty, but it doesn't require Arizona to reveal "protected information to the detriment of the state's ability to carry out its constitutional, lawfully imposed criminal punishments."
The lawsuit followed the 2014 execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood, who was given 15 doses of a 2-drug combination over nearly 23 hours in what his att…

Alabama Man Who Waited 10 Years for Trial Is Found Guilty

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DOTHAN, Ala. — Kharon Davis spent a decade in jail awaiting trial. On Friday, a jury in this southern Alabama town deliberated less than three hours before finding him guilty in the fatal shooting of Peter Dwayne Reaves.
Mr. Davis’s case had attracted national attention because of the extreme length of his incarceration while he was still presumed innocent. His trial was delayed multiple times because of misplaced evidence, conflicts of interest and his own dissatisfaction with successive teams of lawyers.
Mr. Davis, 33, is black, but the jury was all white, in a county with a long history of striking blacks from juries. Jury selection took place on Monday and Tuesday, and Mr. Davis’s lawyers complained to the judge about the racial makeup of the jury, unsuccessfully arguing that a new pool be assembled.
Mr. Davis was one of three men charged in Mr. Reaves’s death. One of the others, Lorenzo Stacey, was acquitted. The third, Kevin Bernard McCloud, took a plea bargain in which he agre…

Gambia, Madagascar Ratify Second Optional Protocol

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Gambia signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty on 20 September 2017 (https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CN/2017/CN.570.2017-Eng.pdf [treaties.un.org]).
Madagascar ratified Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 21 September 2017 (https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CN/2017/CN.587.2017-Eng.pdf [treaties.un.org]), together with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
The UN treaty event is currently going on in New York, at the beginning of the UN General Assembly, and it is a time when states often ratify international treaties https://treaties.un.org/pages/TreatyEvents.aspx?path=Treaty/Focus/Page1_en.xml [treaties.un.org].
Last year, at the same time, Togo and the Dominican Republic also accessed to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
For more information …

Pakistan: Army Chief Ratifies Death Penalty Against 4 Terrorists; Court Awards Death Penalty to 2 for Murder

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Pakistan''s Army Chief Qamar Jawed Bajwa has ratified death penalty against 4 men convicted in military courts for committing several terrorist acts, today reported the body.
A statement from the Army's Inter-Services Public Relations said that the accused participated in attacks, kidnappings and killings of soldiers.
They were involved in the death of 21 people, stressed the text of the military body.
On January 3, 2015, Parliament overwhelmingly approved the establishment of military courts to try cases of terrorism after a Taliban commando's attack on a school a month earlier in Peshawar, which caused over 150 deaths, mostly children and young people.
The massacre shocked national public opinion and led the army to intensify a military offensive against that radical organization in areas bordering Afghanistan.
8 months later, the Supreme Court sanctioned the establishment of these instances, whose sentences must be ratified by the high command of the Armed Forces.
S…