In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Opinion: Jerry Brown Has the Power to Save 740 Lives. He Should Use It.

Six former governors call on California’s governor to follow in their footsteps and grant clemency to death row prisoners.
Among a governor’s many powers, none is more significant than signing a death warrant. It’s a terrible responsibility, hard even to imagine until you’re asked to carry it out, as we were. But we became convinced that it wasn’t something a civilized society should ask of its leaders. That’s why we halted executions in our states, and we call on Gov. Jerry Brown of California to do the same.
Mr. Brown has done a remarkable job in his four terms. His overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system has ensured his legacy as one of the most courageous and effective governors in California’s history. Some of the changes include eliminating cash bail; prohibiting the incarceration of children under 12; no longer allowing children younger than 16 to be tried as adults; and prohibiting prosecutors from charging accomplices with first-degree murder.
Given this good work, we…

Oregon Lawmakers Mull Big Changes To Death Penalty, No Election Required

Oregon lawmakers and death penalty opponents are considering a roundabout approach at gutting the state’s capital punishment law — without sending it to voters.
Since 1984, the death penalty has been enshrined in the Oregon Constitution, meaning it can only be removed by a vote of the people. But under proposals being discussed by Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, and others, the policy could be largely dismantled next year via a vote of the Legislature.
“I’m going to try to deal with it right now on a statutory basis,” Greenlick told OPB.
The precise details of the bills Greenlick and Prozanski are considering are still being worked out. But lawmakers and death penalty opponents all describe some general ideas.
Under one possible proposal, the Legislature would alter the definition of aggravated murder, the only crime punishable by death in Oregon. Currently, the definition includes elements such as multiple victims, the inclusion of torture in the cri…

Aussie mum accused of step-daughter’s murder appears in Arizona court

Lisa Cunningham, the Australian mother facing the death penalty for the alleged murder of her 7-year-old daughter has appeared in an Arizona pre-trial court hearing today.
In a hearing lasting just 3 minutes, Lisa and her husband Germayne Cunningham were granted access to parts of an autopsy report and a phone containing what police allege were incriminating text messages about their dying daughter.
Sanaa, Lisa Cunningham’s stepdaughter, suffered acute schizophrenia. She died from a sepsis infection following injuries to her head and foot in February 2017, prosecutors allege. Police allege she also had injuries on her wrist consistent with the use of zip-tie restraints and a straight jacket.
Prosecutors allege the Cunninghams neglected and abused Germayne’s daughter. Their other children are now under Arizona state foster care.
Mrs Cunningham, 43, is being held in solitary confinement and is denied contact with her surviving children.
9 news correspondent Charles Croucher reports she…

Death sentences remained near historic low levels in Texas in 2018, yet state’s capital punishment system still plagued by racial bias, geographical disparities, and fundamental unfairness

All 7 death sentences in 2018 imposed on people of color
The number of death sentences and executions in 2018 was consistent with lower use of the death penalty in Texas over the last 10 years, according to a new report from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP).  
New death sentences remained in the single digits for the 9th time in 10 years, with Texas juries condemning seven individuals to death. All 7 men sentenced to death in Texas in 2018 are people of color.
Juries rejected the death penalty in two capital murder trials, while two other capital cases were declared mistrials.  For the third year in a row, no one was resentenced to death in Texas.
"The death penalty landscape in Texas has changed significantly over the last 20 years,” said Kristin Houlé, TCADP Executive Director and author of Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2018: The Year in Review.  “Not only have the number of death sentences and executions declined by staggering percentages, but the…

Shanghai man who murdered wife, hid her body in freezer for 3 months appeals death sentence

Following the murder, the man assumed his wife's identity on social media and used her money to date other women
A Shanghai man is now appealing his death sentence after being convicted of murdering his wife and hiding her body in a freezer in their home for the following three months while he assumed her identity on social media and in text messages with her family.
On October 18th, 2016, 30-year-old Zhu Xiaodong strangled his wife, Yang Liping, 30, to death over what was described in court as “trivial” domestic arguments less than a year into their marriage. 
Afterward, he wrapped Yang’s body up in a quilt and hid it inside of their freezer. There her body stayed for the next 105 days.
During this time, Zhu assumed his wife’s identity on WeChat, replying to text messages from her friends and parents who all apparently didn’t suspect a thing. Meanwhile, he used money from Yang’s bank accounts to take vacations and date other women.
Finally, on February 1st, 2017, Zhu was forced t…

Florida executes Jose Jimenez

Florida executes Miami murderer Jose Jimenez after last-ditch appeal denied by U.S. Supreme Court
A man convicted of fatally beating and stabbing a South Florida woman 26 years ago during a burglary has been executed.
Authorities say 55-year-old Jose Antonio Jimenez was pronounced dead at 9:48 p.m. Thursday after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke.
Jimenez was convicted of the October 1992 killing of 63-year-old Phyllis Minas in her North Miami apartment.
Authorities say Jimenez was burglarizing Minas' apartment when she came home and surprised him. Investigators said Minas, a longtime employee of the Miami-Dade Court Clerk's office, was stabbed 8 times.
Authorities say Jimenez is the 28th inmate executed in Florida since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011. That's the most of any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
Jimenez also was convicted of a prior burglary and 2nd-degree murder in the 1990 death of another woman in Miami…

Prisoner executions in Belarus ‘simply unacceptable’, says UN rights body

The continued use of the death penalty in Belarus has been condemned by an authoritative UN rights body after 3 men were reportedly executed there, despite its requests for clemency.
The Human Rights Committee, one of 10 UN treaty bodies that meet regularly in Geneva, had appealed to Belarus not to carry out sentencing on Aleksei Mikhalenya, Semyon Berezhnoi and Igor Gershankov, while it examined their cases.
Since 2010, Belarus has executed 13 people whose cases were under examination by the UN panel, it said in a joint statement with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
“The repetitive failure of Belarus to respect the Committee’s procedures …is simply unacceptable,” said Yuval Shany, committee chairperson.
“The fact that such failures occur in the context of capital cases which implicate the right to life, and which the Committee considers to be the ’supreme right’, is p…

As next execution looms, Florida debates the drugs it uses to kill

Jose Jimenez is set to be executed Thursday night. Like many death row inmates, he has challenged the drugs Florida uses to execute prisoners.
The last time Florida carried out an execution, witnesses said the condemned man — Eric Branch — screamed and thrashed as lethal chemicals coursed through his veins.
Whether Branch's final acts that February night were theater or a response to severe pain has fueled new death row appeals in the 10 months since.
When the brown curtain rises once again inside the state's death chamber Thursday night, whatever follows will surely be scrutinized in what is a long-running debate over the state's lethal injection methods.
Barring an unlikely last-minute stay, Jose Antonio Jimenez will be strapped to a gurney at 6 p.m. and injected with a lethal combination of chemicals. Jimenez, 55, was condemned for the 1992 stabbing of 63-year-old Phyllis Minas, a court clerk slain after she caught Jimenez burglarizing her North Miami apartment.
Like ot…

India: SC rejects plea for immediate execution of 4 convicts

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a plea seeking directions for immediate execution of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, saying, “you want us to go around Delhi and execute these people?”
“What kind of prayer you are making?” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the petitioner. “You are making the court a joke,” it said.
The 23-year-old paramedic student was raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in South Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She died on 29 December 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
One of the accused Ram Singh had hanged himself in the jail and another, a juvenile, was convicted of rape and murder. He was given the maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment in a reform facility.
On 9 July, the apex court dismissed the pleas of three convicts – Mukesh (31), Pawan Gupta (24) and Vinay Sharma (25) – s…