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Showing posts from August, 2011

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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Former LA prosecutor backs ending CA death penalty

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A former Los Angeles County district attorney joined an effort to end California's death penalty Monday, backing an initiative proposed for the November 2012 ballot that would replace capital punishment with life prison terms.
"The death penalty in California is broken and it is unfixable," Gil Garcetti said at a news conference held to release details of the proposed ballot measure. "It is more likely that the convicted murderer will die in prison before execution is imposed."
A recent study estimated the state spends $184 million annually on death penalty cases and incarceration above what it would cost to convert the terms to life behind bars. The former prosecutor said the ballot measure would devote $100 million over three years to law enforcement from money the state could save by ending capital punishment.
The ballot measure would also require murderers to work in prison, with their earnings going into a victim compensation fund, said …

Is Rick Perry Ready to Execute an Innocent Man?

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As soon as Rick Perry threw his hat into the 2012 electoral ring, anti–death penalty critics brought up his staggering execution record as governor of Texas: 234 prisoners have been put to death under Perry’s watch, a number of whom had serious innocence claims. 
Most famous among them is Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 and whose case opened up an investigation that Perry has taken aggressive—and largely successful—measures to squash. But a lesser-known case could also haunt the governor if it reaches his desk: that of Larry Swearingen, convicted and sent to death row for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 19-year-old college freshman named Melissa Trotter in 1998. 
Like Willingham, Swearingen was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence and a history of run-ins with the law. But Willingham was convicted based on the inexact science of arson investigations, whose flawed assumptions have been slow to evolve. The scientific evidence in Swearingen’s case, medical ex…

Chinese Telecom Executive Sentenced to Death for Bribery

SHANGHAI — A former executive at China Mobile, one of this country’s biggest state-owned telecommunications companies, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve Tuesday for accepting bribes, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.
The sentence means that with good behavior the executive’s penalty could be commuted to life in prison. Li Hua, the former chairman and general manager of the Sichuan branch of China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator as measured by subscribers, was convicted of accepting more than $2.5 million in bribes by the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Panzhihua, in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
The same type of sentence was handed down last month for one of the company’s other former executives, Zhang Chunjiang, who once served as vice chairman of China Mobile. He was convicted of accepting more than $1.15 million in bribes while working at a series of state-run telecom companies from 1994 to 2009.
Click here to read the ful…

Iran: Death sentence for scientist's killer

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August 28, 2011: in Iran, Majid Jamali-Fashi was sentenced to death for murdering scientist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi in January 2010 on behalf of Israel to stop Iran developing nuclear technology, official news agency IRNA reported. 
IRNA quoted a judiciary spokesman as saying Majid was convicted of “waging war against God” and being “corrupt on Earth.” The prosecution said Jamali-Fashi had traveled to Israel to receive training from the Mossad intelligence agency, and had been paid $120,000 for the assassination.
An Iranian opposition website said at the time that Ali-Mohammadi was an opposition supporter who had backed moderate candidate Mir hossein Mousavi in the disputed June 2009 presidential election, suggesting there may be other motives for his murder.
Source: Daily Star, August 28, 2011

Steven Woods, Claiming Innocence, Scheduled for Execution on Sept 13, 2011

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We received the information below from advocates trying to stop the execution of Steven Woods on Sept 13, 2011:
On September 13 2011, Steven Woods (31) is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection by the state of Texas after being wrongfully convicted and confined 24 hours a day for the past 9 years of his life. Woods maintained his innocence since he was arrested, and he swears that he will keep doing so until he dies. The evidence supporting Steven Woods' wrongful conviction is overwhelming; provided below is more information that I hope will help you better understand Woods' case: - In 2002, Steven Woods was convicted for shooting and killing a young couple in Denton County, Texas. - Woods was 21 at the time and had no prior arrests or warrants. - 3 months after Steven was wrongfully convicted/sentenced to death, 24 year old Marcus Rhodes took responsibility for knowingly and intentionally shooting and killing both of the murder victims, in a Denton County court. - Rhodes di…

Madras HC stays death penalty of Rajiv killers’, gives govt. eight weeks to respond

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Chennai, Aug.30 (ANI): The Madras High Court on Tuesday stayed the death penalty of three assassins of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi after hearing their review petitions presented by eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani here. The court also asked the central government to explain within two months (eight weeks) why it delayed in carrying out the death sentences for over eleven years.
The court order came days after President Pratibha Devisingh Patil had rejected the mercy petitions of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, and fixed September 9 as the date of execution.
All three had earlier sought to set aside the August 12 last order of the President,rejecting their mercy pleas and commute their death sentences to life on the ground of ‘undue delay’ in disposing of their mercy petitions.
Along with Tuesday’s court order, the Tamil Nadu state assembly also passed a unanimous resolution asking President Patil to commute the death sentences on the three and grant them clemency immediately. The m…

High Court to hear review petitions of Rajiv killers on Tuesday

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The Madras High Court will hear on Tuesday the review petitions of the three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking an interim injunction to stay their execution.
Their mercy petitions were rejected by the President and September 9 has been fixed for their hanging.
Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan have sought to set aside the August 12 order of the President, rejecting their mercy pleas and commute their death sentences to life on the ground of ‘undue delay’ in disposing of their mercy petitions.
Advocate N. Chandrasekaran made a mention in the court of Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar on Monday morning, seeking an early hearing of the petitions, following which the Judge agreed to hear them on Tuesday.
In three separate petitions, the convicts also sought an interim injunction to stay their executions till disposal of their petitions.
They contended that their mercy pleas were with the President for 11 long years since April 26, 2000 before being rejected. They cl…

Defense cost in Arizona border activist trials: $951K

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The total cost to defend three border activists ultimately convicted of killing a southern Arizona man and his young daughter in a 2009 home invasion was more than $951,000, making it one of the costliest in Pima County’s history.
The Arizona Daily Star reports that the only defendant to avoid death row accounted for 45 percent of the total expenses, and the six attorneys assigned to the cases received roughly $500,000.
Shawna Forde, Jason Bush and Albert Gaxiola all were all convicted of first-degree murder this year in the deaths of Raul Junior Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia.
Separate juries sent Forde, 43, and Bush, 37 — both from Washington state — to death row, but a third jury opted for a life sentence for Gaxiola, 44.
Authorities said three people dressed as law enforcement officers forced their way into the victims’ home in Arivaca, south of Tucson, at about 1 a.m. on May 30, 2009.
Prosecutors claimed Gaxiola, of Arivaca, wanted Raul Flores dead because he was a …

U.S.: Military has called off 10 executions

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Ten of the 16 U.S. military personnel sentenced to death since 1984 have had their sentences overturned, officials say.
McClatchy Newspapers reported Sunday military appellate courts spared the defendants the death penalty because of mistakes made throughout the military's judicial system.
Most of the former death row inmates have been re-sentenced to life in prison.
McClatchy said critics say in many cases, defendants charged with capital crimes are given young, inexperienced lawyers to represent them.
"If you have a system where it's always amateur hour and where the lawyers are always trying their first capital case, you're going to guarantee the same kinds of mistakes that have resulted in many, many cases being reversed -- because of ineffective assistance of counsel -- for the last 30 years are going to be made over and over again," David Bruck, director of the legal aid organization Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, said.
"E…

Malaysia: Really time to drop mandatory death penalty

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Earlier this week, our attention was drawn to the image of a mother embracing her 3 children tightly as her face portray the ordeal she had gone through. Rosna Shariff was finally reunited with her children after 4 long and trying years due to the efforts of Putera 1Malaysia and Berita Harian who sponsored her flight home.
Rosna who was tricked by a man into becoming a drug mule was arrested in Santa Monica, Lima in 2007 with 5kg of cocaine. She was sentenced to 2 years and eight months in jail. After being released in October last year, she found herself stranded in Peru and could not afford her way home.
Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM) congratulates Putera 1Malaysia for their continued assistance in bringing home victims of similar cases as Rosna. Their work in providing help to Malaysians who have stumbled in their lives is crucial but Rosna is hardly an isolated case.
In February 2011, police statistics revealed that between 2007 to 2010, 239 Malaysians who had been lured into b…

Rajiv case: Death penalty opposed

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In a clear indication of the brewing resentment among different sections of the society over the move to execute the death sentence awarded to 3 persons in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, protests were organized by various groups across the state on Saturday.
In Madurai, members of Makkal Iyakkam (People's Front) staged a protest at Scott Road raising slogans against capital punishment and the UPA government. Advocates owing allegiance to various Tamil organisations have decided to boycott court proceedings for 2 days from August 29. Manitha Urimai Pathukappu Mayyam, a forum for human rights, has planned to take out a rally from the district court to Madurai collectorate on Monday. Several other outfits have also announced protests against execution of the death sentence.
In Coimbatore, a few students of Government Law College, Coimbatore, delayed the departure of Chennai-bound Kovai Express for half an hour on Saturday when they squatted on the railway track at Coimbatore City…