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

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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…

Texas executes Danielle Simpson

A convicted killer who volunteered for execution but in recent weeks changed his mind has been put to death in Texas.

Thirty-year-old Danielle Simpson (left) received a lethal injection Wednesday evening for the abduction-slaying of an 84-year-old east Texas woman who was weighted down with a cinder block and thrown into a river.

Simpson had won approval from a federal court that he was competent to decide to drop his appeals. Then Simpson changed his mind and allowed lawyers to try to save him. Attorneys contended he was mentally ill.

He was condemned for the murder of Geraldine Davidson, a former school teacher and church organist abducted nearly 10 years ago during a burglary of her home in Palestine, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.

Simpson was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. Wednesday, nine minutes after a lethal dose of chemicals had been administered.

He became the 22nd person to be executed in Texas this year.

The 30-year-old Simpson, who was 20 at the time of the murder, gave a brief final statement.

"Yeah, I want to tell my family I love ya'll," said Simpson, strapped to a gurney. "Tell Kate I love her too. Tell brother, my kids I love ya'll. I'm gonna miss ya'll. I'm ready, ready."

Five members of Davidson's family witnessed the execution, while two of Simpson's sisters also were witnesses.

Read more: Danielle Simpson speaks about his nine-year term spent locked up in solitary.

Source: AP, Nov. 18, 2009

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