California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

Lawyer: Four killers of U.S. official could escape death

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Four men convicted of murdering a U.S. aid official and his driver in Khartoum could escape the death penalty if the family of the American victim rescinded its request for execution, the defense lawyer said Monday.

The four were condemned to hang for killing John Granville, 33, who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and his driver, Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, 39.

Under Sudanese law, the families of murder victims can choose blood money or the death penalty for retribution.

Granville's mother, Jane, said in a letter read after the sentencing in June that she preferred the killers be jailed for life, but because this option had not been offered she backed the death penalty.

Defense lawyer Adil Abdelgani told Reuters the father of the driver had waived his right for execution, prompting the court to seek the view of Granville's family again.

"They will not issue a new sentence until they hear the views of the family of the late Granville. If they ask for the death penalty, they will get it," Abdelgani said.

He said court could still to decide to imprison the men, which he said would be a sentence based on the principle of a punishment "in the public interest."

Granville was the first U.S. official to be killed in Khartoum for more than 30 years. He was returning home from New Year celebrations on January 1, 2008, when he and Rahama were shot. Granville was from near Buffalo, close to New York city.

Lawyers said the four men, all in their 20s and 30s, shouted Islamic slogans after the killing.

Source: Reuters, August 10, 2009

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