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2018 Death Penalty report: Saudi Arabia’s False Promise

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With crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the helm, 2018 was a deeply violent and barbaric year for Saudi Arabia, under his de facto leadership.
PhotoDeera Square is a public space located in front of the Religious Police building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square and colloquially called Chop Chop Square. After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites.
This year execution rates of 149 executions, shows an increase from the previous year of three executions, indicating that death penalty trends are soaring and there is no reversal of this trend in sight.
The execution rates between 2015-2018 are amongst the highest recorded in the Kingdom since the 1990s and coincide with the ascension of king Salman to the t…

Texas: Skinner's Lawyer, AG Disagree Over DNA Results

Hank Skinner
Lawyers for death row inmate Hank Skinner say the latest round of DNA testing in the 1993 triple murder he was convicted for show that someone else likely committed the crime.

“In light of this latest round of DNA tests, supported by other exculpatory evidence, the doubts about Mr. Skinner’s guilt are far too substantial to allow his execution to proceed,” Douglas Robinson, an attorney for Skinner, wrote in an email.

But lawyers with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office argue that the same test results only reinforce Skinner’s guilt.

“The new round of testing does nothing to vindicate Hank Skinner in the murder of Twila Busby,” said Jerry Strickland, an Abbott spokesman.

Skinner was convicted in 1995 of killing his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons in Pampa. He has maintained his innocence, arguing that he was too inebriated from a mixture of vodka and codeine to overpower the three victims. He pleaded with the state for more than a decade to test DNA that he argues implicates another man as the killer.

Prosecutors agreed to allow the DNA testing in June 2012, and on Aug. 6, lawyers received the results of a third round of tests — analysis of mitochondrial DNA on four hairs found on Busby’s hands. One of the hairs belonged to Skinner, which his lawyers say is unremarkable because he lived in the home where the killing occurred. The other three hairs came from the “maternally-related line of persons that included the victims.” A previous examination of those hairs indicated they weren't from the victims.

The testing on the hairs, Skinner’s lawyers argue, aligns with their contention that the killer was likely Busby’s maternal uncle, who they allege had a history of violence and had been making unwanted sexual advances toward her the night of the crime.

A windbreaker that resembled one Busby’s now-deceased uncle regularly wore was also found at the crime scene, and he was seen scrubbing down his truck just days after the murders.

But Strickland said the new testing doesn’t indicate that anyone other than Skinner was involved in the crime. He contended that the three hairs that weren’t Skinner’s could have belonged to Busby or her sons.

“Despite his continual delay tactics, the latest test results continue to show the link between Hank Skinner and his guilt in the murder of Twila Busby,” Strickland wrote in an email.

Skinner’s lawyers filed their conclusions about the latest testing results with the court this week, and the state has previously filed its conclusions using earlier DNA tests, which they said implicated Skinner in the crime.

“Hank Skinner's case is exactly the reason why this office supported a new law requiring DNA evidence be tested before trial instead of continuing to delay justice,” Strickland said.

Source: The Texas Tribune, August 29, 2013

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