Q&As: Kirsten Han, anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore

In the third of the DPRU's (Death Penalty Research Unit, University of Oxford, Faculty of Law) series of Q&As with death penalty experts from around the world, Kirsten Han, an anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore, tells DPRU Research Officer Jocelyn Hutton about her current work and about her involvement in the case of the recently executed Nagaenthran Dharmalingam . Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do in relation to the death penalty? A lot of my contribution to the campaign to abolish the death penalty in Singapore has to do with storytelling, since that fits with the skills that I have as a writer and journalist, and because abolitionist perspectives, or any in-depth coverage of capital punishment, are missing from the local government-controlled mainstream media. I write about death row prisoners and the experiences of their families, try to humanise this issue. For many Singaporeans, it’s so distant and so abstract that it’s very easy to dismiss; so

Florida executes Elmer Carroll

Elmer Carroll
ORLANDO (CBS Miami/AP) — A man convicted of raping and strangling a 10-year-old girl was executed by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Starke, Wednesday. He was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m.

56-year-old Elmer Carroll’s last chance at a reprieve was before the U.S. Supreme Court. His attorney filed the petition saying Carroll should have been considered mentally ill at the time of the murder.

Attorneys tried for more than two decades to appeal the death sentence, but were not successful.

“As far as I’m concerned, he was mentally ill at the time of the offense,” said Carroll’s attorney, Michael Reiter. “He has had mental illness all of his life.”

Prosecutors disagreed and several courts have upheld Carroll’s competency to stand trial and be put to death.

“Carroll does not meet, much less even allege, he meets either the definition of, or, factual requirements to be considered sufficiently mentally ill to bar his execution,” Assistant Attorney General Scott Browne wrote in a motion filed last month.

In November 1990, Carroll was indicted on a count of first-degree murder and sexual battery for the rape and murder of 10-year-old Christine McGowan, who lived with her family next door to a halfway house for homeless men where Carroll was staying, in the Orlando suburb of Apopka.

Carroll’s lawyers argued that he was unable to assist in his defense. They employed the insanity defense at his trial, during which they and prosecutors presented conflicting testimony from psychiatrists about Carroll’s mental competency.

Two experts hired to evaluate him found that he wasn’t competent to stand trial, and one concluded that Carroll was psychotic, schizophrenic, delusional, incoherent and withdrawn. Carroll was committed to a psychiatric unit at a local hospital for several days. Subsequently, after hearing from other experts, a judge found him competent to stand trial.

In 2002, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to execute mentally disabled individuals, Carroll requested another hearing, claiming he was borderline mentally disabled and suffered brain damage. His attorneys argued the U.S. Supreme Court ruling should extend to mental illness.

Carroll was served bacon and eggs for his last meal at 10 a.m., which included a whole sliced tomato, a fruit salad with strawberries, papaya, peaches, pineapple and tropical fruit, an avocado and a can of Carnation milk.

Carroll had two visitors Wednesday morning, a mitigation specialist and a Catholic priest. No family visited.

Source: CBS Radio, May 29, 2013

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Q&As: Kirsten Han, anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore