Showing posts from February, 2014


USA | Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a terrible opportunity for Trump

"Sometimes it felt like she was America’s last hope. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court judge since 1993, achieved celebrity status during Trump’s four years. Affectionately given the nickname “Notorious R.B.G” by a slew of online followers, she was the subject of superhero memes and the inspiration for much light-hearted merchandise (Urban Outfitters stocks T-shirts emblazoned with her face and her famously blunt quotes, and I gifted a friend in Brooklyn a cuddly Ginsburg doll for her newborn last year.)
Beneath the jokes, the quotes and the well-designed tote bags, however, ran an undercurrent of anxiety and fear. The fact that Supreme Court judges have lifetime appointments meant that many were morbidly obsessed with Ginsburg — who battled cancer on numerous occasions, and died of its complications today — staying alive long enough to get to the election. She herself clearly felt the same way, if NPR’s reports about her dying wishes are to be believed: “My most fervent wish is …

Bali Nine mule Scott Rush: I wish I was dead

“IF I had my way, I would have been dead at 25. I just didn’t want to be executed in front of the entire world.”
So declares Bali Nine drug mule Scott Rush, now 28, in utter despair. Recalling the day in 2011 when his death sentence was commuted to life, he views his current fate as worse than the death he escaped.
Amid the roar and kerfuffle of the Schapelle Corby media circus, Rush, a despondent figure, is one of the forgotten Australian inmates in Bali, suspended in the shadows of the convicted trafficker’s spotlight.
He is particularly alone.
Now isolated in Karangasem jail, in remote east Bali, he’s at the end of his tether after enduring a prison hell for almost a decade. He constantly talks of death as his only way out.
Asked if he would commit suicide, he says he would not do it himself, muttering that he would enlist help. “I’m not going to be able to survive here. I wish I was dead,” he tells The Weekend Australian. “I’m trying to figure out a way to do it that’s moral. It’…

Evidence of Concealed Jailhouse Deal Raises Questions About Todd Willingham's Execution

In the 10 years since Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham after convicting him on charges of setting his house on fire and murdering his three young daughters, family members and death penalty opponents have argued that he was innocent. Now newly discovered evidence suggests that the prosecutor in the case may have concealed a deal with a jailhouse informant whose testimony was a key part of the execution decision.
The battle to clear Mr. Willingham’s name has symbolic value because it may offer evidence that an innocent man was executed, something opponents of the death penalty believe happens more than occasionally. By contrast, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote seven years ago that he was unaware of “a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit.”
Mr. Willingham was convicted on charges of setting the 1991 fire in Corsicana, Tex., that killed his three children, and was sentenced to death the next year. The conviction rested …

Power Punishment & Execution in Iran: An analysis of Foucault’s Discipline and Punishment applied to modern Iran

Iran leads the world in per capita executions, and is one of the few countries which continues to publicly hang condemned individuals, creating a spectacle of terror in the street.

These executions carry political significance beyond the administration of supposed justice. They are in essence an abstraction of the political and judicial climate in Iran, in which a population is controlled through sheer violence and terror.
Michel Foucault’s analysis of 18th century punishment from his work Discipline and Punishment, and the ritual of the public execution in particular, evoke eerie parallels with modern day Iran.
It is a ceremonial by which a momentarily injured sovereignty is reconstituted. It restores that sovereignty by manifesting it at its most spectacular. The public execution, however hasty and everyday, belongs to a whole series of great rituals in which power is eclipsed and restored… Its aim is not so much to re-establish a balance as to bring into play, as its extreme point…

Two Oklahoma death row inmates sue state Corrections Department over lethal injection secrecy

Two Oklahoma death row inmates are challenging the constitutionality of the law allowing the state to keep secret its source of lethal injection drugs.
According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Oklahoma County District Court, Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner have reason to believe Oklahoma’s execution method carries with it “a substantial risk of inflicting severe pain,” which would violate their constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment.
Click here to read the full article
Source: The Oklahoman, Feb. 27, 2014

Egypt: 26 face death penalty over Suez Canal plot

An Egyptian court has sentenced 26 people to death for conspiring to attack ships transiting the Suez Canal.
The defendants were accused and found guilty of “founding and leading a terror group that aimed to attack peoples freedom, damage national unity and attack the Suez Canal waterway” says an official statement by the Cairo Criminal Court.
This includes plans to attack ships passing the canal, security buildings, foreign tourists and local police.
A verdict was given after a single session. Only one defendant, less than 18 years old, managed to escape the death sentence.
The case has been passed on to the Grand Mufti, a top Muslim cleric who must approve all executions, with a final decision to be made on March 19th.
Defendants were charged in absentia. If and when they are finally caught, they will be allowed a re-trial. According to the Washington Post it is common for defendants to receive the death penalty when tried in absentia.
Terrorist activity along the canal has been on…

Florida executes Paul Howell

STARKE, Fla. (AP) — A drug trafficker who placed a pipe bomb in a gift-wrapped microwave oven in a plot to kill two potential murder witnesses was executed Wednesday for the 1992 death of a Florida highway trooper who became the unintended victim.
Paul Augustus Howell, 48, was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. following a lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Stark, the office of Gov. Rick Scott said in an email.
Howell was condemned for the killing of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford on Feb. 1, 1992, when the package exploded during a traffic stop.
When the curtain opened revealing the witnesses Wednesday evening, Howell opened his eyes wide and lifted his head to stare at those gathered. He appeared to begin speaking before the microphone was turned on.
When asked if he had any words, he apologized to Fulford's family. He then gave a 2-minute statement detailing the events of the crime and placing blame on a friend for letting the bomb go off.
Howell built the …

Pharma firms must put in place execution drug controls as US states push ahead with new ‘cocktail’

Two pharmaceutical companies, one of which describes itself as “one of the biggest…in the UK,” are facing urgent calls to put in place new controls on drugs which could be used in executions.
Akorn, headquartered in Illinois, produces midazolam, a sedative which is currently being used by Florida and Ohio to carry out lethal injections.
Teva, a global company which “suppl[ies] more packs of medicines to the NHS than anyone else,” produces two paralytic agents – rocuronium bromide and vecuronium bromide – which are used by Virginia and Florida respectively as part of their three-drug execution ‘cocktails.’
Although it is not certain that any US state has yet procured the relevant drugs from either of the companies, both have so far failed to put in place distribution controls which would prevent this from happening. This failure stands in contrast to the other US manufacturers of the drugs in question, which have taken simple and effective steps to prevent their medicines being used t…

Iran: 6 hanged in Karaj (west of Tehran); 3 in public

Yesterday Iran Human Rights (IHR) had warned about scheduled execution of seven prisoners from Rajaishahr prison of Karaj. This morning six people were hanged, three of them publicly at three different spots of Karaj. 
Iran Human Rights strongly condemns the wave of executions in Iran and calls for the international community to react.
Iran Human Rights, February 26: Three young men were hanged publicly at three different areas of Karaj (west of Tehran) reported the Iranian state media today.
According to the state run Iranian news agency ISNA, three men identified as Arsalan, Hamid and Habib with an average age of 25, 26 years were hanged publicly at three different spots of Karaj. 
The prisoners were convicted of kidnapping and rape of a pregnant woman in March 2009, said the report.
Titre1 news website identified the prisoners as Arsalan Ebrahimi, Hamid Yousefi and Habibollah Khanalizadeh.
According to Iran Human Rights’ (IHR) sources in Iran six prisoners, including the three me…

Saudi beheaded for killing compatriot

His execution in Qatif brings to 11 the number of executions this year
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia beheaded one its citizens in the Eastern Province on Wednesday after he was convicted of murdering a compatriot, the interior ministry announced.
Abdullah Al Mabyuq shot dead Mohammad Al Faraj following a dispute, said the statement carried by the official SPA news agency.
His execution in the Qatif district of the Eastern Province brings to 11 the number of executions this year in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Saudi Arabia beheaded 78 people in 2013, according to an AFP count.
Last year, the UN High Commission for Human Rights denounced a “sharp increase in the use of capital punishment” since 2011 in Saudi Arabia.
According to figures from rights group Amnesty International, the number of Saudi executions rose from 27 in 2010, of whom five were foreigners, to 82 in 2011, including 28 foreigners.
In 2012, the number of executions slipped slightly to 79, among them 27 foreigners.
Rape, murder…

10 countries where homosexuality may be punishable by death

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed a law that imposes a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual acts - and life sentences for those found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality." A measure imposing the death penalty was removed from an earlier version of the bill.
Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, as it is in 37 other African countries. Though the death penalty was removed from Uganda's law, it's a potential punishment elsewhere, including parts of Nigeria, Mauritania and Sudan.
(Last month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a measure similar to Uganda's into law; a few weeks later, a mob pulled 14 young men from their beds and assaulted them, screaming about cleansing their neighborhood of gay people.)
Here are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punishable by death:
- Yemen: According to 1994 penal code, married men can be sentenced to death by stoning for homosexual intercourse. Unmarried men face whipping or one year in…

Missouri executes Michael Taylor

A Missouri man who abducted, raped and murdered a 15-year-old schoolgirl has been executed after the US Supreme Court dismissed a last-minute appeal.
Michael Taylor, 47, who admitted killing Ann Harrison in the Kansas City area in 1989, died by lethal injection.
His lawyers argued that the drugs used for the injection might subject him to a slow and tortuous death.
The execution comes amid controversy over the chemicals being used to give US death row inmates lethal injections.
Ann Harrison was waiting for the school bus near her home when she was abducted by Taylor and his accomplice, Roderick Nunley.

Though he was raised in a 2-parent, church-going home, Taylor fell into a pattern of petty crimes and drug use that landed him in trouble.

He and Nunley, who grew up in the same central Kansas City neighborhood, were cruising around in a car they had stolen the day before in Grandview when they randomly chose to drive down Ann's street in the early morning light.

The men put he…

Exonerated Oklahoma death-row inmate included in John Grisham book dies

Greg Wilhoit, a former Oklahoma death-row inmate from Tulsa and nationally-known anti-death penalty advocate whose story was included in author John Grisham's "The Innocent Man," died Feb. 14 in Sacramento, Calif., family members said. He was 59.
A celebration of life is set for 1 p.m. Friday at the First United Methodist Church in Tulsa.
Grisham's nonfiction book, released in 2006, focused on fellow exonerated inmate Ron Williamson of Ada but also featured Wilhoit, who was on death row at the same time.
A 1972 graduate of Tulsa's Edison High School, Wilhoit was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1985 rape and murder of his estranged wife, Kathy Wilhoit, who was found dead at her Tulsa apartment.
Wilhoit proclaimed his innocence from the beginning.
He was finally released from prison in 1993, having been cleared by bite-mark evidence.
He emerged with what eventually became a new mission in life: Previously a supporter of the death penalty - even as he had fa…

Taiwan: Execution of death row inmates deliberated

Under pressure from a legislator to carry out executions of death row inmates, Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay said Tuesday that her ministry will proceed cautiously in evaluating issues related to capital punishment.
Kuomintang lawmaker Wu Yu-sheng questioned Luo at a legislative hearing on Tuesday on why a government that stresses governing based on the rule of law has yet to execute 45 death row inmates who have exhausted all possible judicial remedies.
Wu said he was religious and felt bad about asking that death row inmates be executed, but he noted that capital punishment is legal in Taiwan and that there were currently 52 inmates on death row, some of whom were sentenced to death as long as 10 years ago.
Challenged by Wu on whether the ministry would conduct the executions, Luo said it would, but she stressed that it would carry out its duties prudently.
Luo said that since assuming her post, she has reviewed the cases of these death row prisoners to see whether they have ap…

No death penalty for 2 Italian marines as India drops anti-terror charge

NEW DELHI, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Indian government Monday dropped the contentious anti-terror charge against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012, thus exempting the duo from death penalty if convicted.
The government conveyed its decision to the Supreme Court which was approached by Italy last month amid apprehensions that the two marines -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- could be tried on the controversial anti-terror charge which carries death penalty.
Meanwhile, the apex court has also agreed to look into Italy's plea challenging the jurisdiction of the anti-terror National Investigation Agency to probe the case.
The case dates back to February 2012 when the two Italian marines were arrested by Indian police for killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of the southern state of Kerala. The two marines, then guarding an Italian merchant ship, claimed that they mistook the fishermen as pirates.
The incident sparked a diplomatic ro…

U.S. Supreme Court won't block Justin Wolfe's capital murder retrial

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court will not block Virginia from retrying an accused drug dealer, whose earlier capital murder conviction was set aside because of misconduct by prosecutors.
The justices on Monday rejected an appeal by Justin Wolfe, who said the prosecutors' misdeeds were so serious that they precluded a fair second trial.
A federal judge agreed with Wolfe and had ordered his immediate release, but the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., said the new trial could be held fairly.
Wolfe was sent to death row in 2002 for a drug-related murder, but his original conviction and sentence were overturned.
Source: AP, Feb. 24, 2014

Execution dates requested for 2 Miss. inmates; Michelle Byrom would be first female executed by state in 70 years

The state is seeking to set execution dates for two Mississippi death row inmates, one of whom would mark the first time the state put a female prisoner to death since 1944.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed the motions before the state Supreme Court on Monday, requesting dates be set for next month for the executions of Michelle Byrom and Charles Ray Crawford.
Byrom was sentenced to death in Tishomingo County for her involvement in the 1999 slaying of her husband, Edward Louis Byrom Sr. She was convicted for her part in the murder for hire scheme to collect her late husband’s insurance benefits, according to court documents.
Crawford, a Tippah County resident, was convicted for the 1993 slaying of Kristy Ray, a college student. He was also convicted of burglary, rape, sexual battery and kidnapping.
Both inmates had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear their cases, paving the way for the execution dates.
Hood is asking for Crawford’s execution to be se…

Singapore: Factory worker escapes the gallows

A 36-year-old factory worker escaped death when the High Court here yesterday acquitted him of a charge of trafficking in 6.782kg of methamphetamine 3 years ago.
Judge Datuk Zakiah Kassim ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against Ahmad Fauzi Ismail.
The father of 4, who was clad in a red shirt, beamed with joy as he stepped out of the courtroom after being freed.
"I am grateful for being spared from the death penalty," he said before leaving the court, accompanied by his lawyer, Datuk Naran Singh.
Zakiah said the prosecution had failed to prove that the car driven by Fauzi where the drug was found belonged to him.
Fauzi was jointly charged with his wife, Faizah Hamzah, 40, with committing the offence in front of the Kubang Pasu district police headquarters at 9.30am on Aug 5, 2011.
However, Faizah was found not guilty at the end of the prosecution on Oct 20 last year, while her husband was ordered to enter his defence.
Deputy public prosecuto…

Uganda’s president signs harsh anti-gay bill into law; original draft called for the death penalty

ENTEBBE, Uganda — Uganda’s president on Monday signed a controversial anti-gay bill that has harsh penalties for homosexual sex, saying it is needed to deter what he called the West’s “social imperialism” promoting homosexuality in Africa.
President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill at his official residence in an event witnessed by government officials, journalists and a team of Ugandan scientists whose report —which found that there is no proven genetic basis for homosexuality — cited by Museveni as his reason for backing the bill.
“We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone,” he said, talking of Western pressure not to sign the bill. “We have been disappointed for a long time by the conduct of the West. There is now an attempt at social imperialism.”
Without naming them, Museveni accused “arrogant and careless Western groups” of trying to recruit Ugandan children into homosexuality, prompting local pressure for the law.
The new law calls for…

U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeal of woman on Texas death row for Arlington boy's starvation

HOUSTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review an appeal from an Arlington woman on Texas death row for the starvation of a 9-year-old boy a decade ago.
A Tarrant County jury in 2006 convicted Lisa Ann Coleman of capital murder and decided she should die for the death of Davontae Williams.
Her appeal to the high court was rejected by the justices Monday with no comment.
Coleman shared an apartment with the boy’s mother, Marcella Williams, who took a plea deal to avoid the death penalty and is serving a life prison term. Evidence showed Coleman beat, bound, neglected and starved the boy, who weighed 35 pounds. An autopsy showed he had more than 250 scars.
Coleman does not yet have an execution date.
Source: AP, Feb. 24, 2014

Iran: Two prisoners hanged in Semnan prison

NCRI - Two prisoners were hanged on Tuesday in the northern city of Semnan, the Iranian regime's judiciary in the province has said.
The two victims were identified by their first initials as M.Sh, and M.F.
The prisoners had been imprisoned and sentenced to death on drug related charges.
The report published on the judiciary website said they were hanged in the city's prison on Tuesday with the consent of the head of the judiciary.
The executions carried out after the United Nations said on Friday "the surge in the use of the death penalty that has dampened hopes for human rights reforms under President Hassan Rouhani."
"It appears at least in the past seven weeks that in fact executions have been scaled up," U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing.
"We regret that the new government has not changed its approach to the death penalty and continues to impose capital punishment for a wide range of offences. We urge the govern…

After Death Row in Texas, I'm Fighting to End the Death Penalty

My name is Kerry Max Cook, but for 2 decades, I was known as "Cook, Execution number 600." Innocent of the murder and rape I was accused of in 1977, my home became a tiny death row cell in Texas, the state that kills more people than anywhere else in the U.S. by far -- including 141 of my fellow inmates before my release in 1999. By then, my only brother had been murdered and my Dad had died of cancer. My Mom died soon after. I was stabbed, raped and routinely abused on death row. My ordeal spanned 2 generations of the Smith County District Attorney's office, 2 wrongful convictions, 2 reversals of conviction, a walk to the execution chamber, and 3 capital murder trials. My legal team and I have been unable to find a worst case of prosecutorial misconduct in Texan history.
I avoided a 4th trial only by pleading no contest, while making no admission of guilt. I have never been officially exonerated. Author John Grisham said, "If it were fiction, no one would believe …

USA: Robert Redford's "Death Row Stories" to Premiere on CNN

"Death Row Stories" is a new 8-part series premiering on March 9 on CNN that will examine actual death penalty cases. 
The show is produced by Robert Redford and narrated by Dead Man Walking star Susan Sarandon. 
Redford said, "This series is about the search for justice and truth, we are pleased to ... tell these important stories and give a voice to these cases." 
Prior to the premiere, CNN is offering interested parties an opportunity for a preview and the ability to participate in a Google Hangout featuring a discussion by the producers and law professors John Blume of Cornell and Robert Blecker of New York Law School. The Google Hangout will be held March 5 at 6 pm EST and is open to the public, but an RSVP is required.
Source: Death Penalty Information Center, Feb. 22, 2014

South Dakota lawmakers reject bill to repeal death penalty

A South Dakota legislative panel has decided the state should keep the death penalty.
After hearing from relatives of 2 murder victims, the House State Affairs Committee voted 7-6 to reject a measure that would have repealed the death penalty.
The measure would have banned the death penalty in future criminal cases, but it sought to leave in place the death sentences of 3 convicted murderers currently on South Dakota's death row. Opponents say the bill's language might have allowed those 3 convicts to avoid being executed.
Supporters of the death penalty argued it is an appropriate penalty for the most vile crimes and deters others from committing murder.
Opponents of the death penalty contend it does not deter others from committing horrible crimes, save money or improve public safety.
Source: Associated Press, Feb. 22, 2014

Hakamada Iwao and the Declining Support for Japan’s Death Penalty

Despite government figures, the Japanese public appears increasingly skeptical of capital punishment.
Since conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in December 2012, eight Japanese prisoners have been executed. A 2009 government poll, often cited when the issue of capital punishment is raised in Japan, claims that 86 percent of the Japanese public was in favor of the practice. However, more recent research from Oxford University reveals diminished enthusiasm for the death penalty among questions over its place in modern society.
Japan – a country that prefers hangings to the “more humane” method of lethal injection – has drawn widespread criticism from rights groups across the globe for its practice of so-called “secret” executions.
“Prisoners, who spend years, even decades, on death row, typically are not told of their execution until hours before they are led to the gallows,” reported The Guardian. “Their lawyers and relatives are informed only after the execution has b…

Iran: Death sentences for 73 prisoner in Ahvaz confirmed

NCRI - The families of inmates in the main prison in southern city of Ahwaz have reported that the death sentences for many prisoners have been confirmed by the Iranian regime's judiciary.
The death sentences issued for the prisoners have been sent to the country's capital to be confirmed by the judiciary.
The death sentence for at least 73 prisoners have been confirmed on Tuesday, February 18.
The United Nations expressed concern over the surge in executions in Iran and urged the Iranian regime to "immediately halt executions."
"We regret that the new government has not changed its approach to the death penalty and continues to impose capital punishment for a wide range of offences. We urge the government to immediately halt executions and to institute a moratorium."UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing.
The United Nations' human rights office on Friday said that it is "deeply concerned" about the high number of …

The last breaths of America's machinery of death

When the history of the long, slow decline of capital punishment in America is written, a footnote must be reserved for the Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Do not be deceived by the name. Quaint and cosy it may sound, but until this month the company was the unofficial supplier of the drug used in executions by neighbouring Missouri.
The arrangement resembled something out of The French Connection rather than preparation for the ultimate punishment that the state can mete out to one of its citizens. An official from Missouri's Department of Corrections (by such euphemisms are prison services known in the US) would secretly travel to Tulsa. There he would pay $11,000 in cash for a specially commissioned version of pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate. The official would then carry the stuff by hand back across the state line to Missouri, to be injected into the condemned man.
Three times this happened last year – and the same thing was to have happened for this Wednesday…

Tribesman murderer beheaded in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh: A Saudi citizen convicted of murder was beheaded on Sunday, the interior ministry announced, bringing the number of executions in the kingdom this year to 10.
Salem Al Jahdali beat fellow tribesman Abdullah Al Jahdali to death following a dispute, the ministry said in a statement published by the official SPA news agency.
The execution took place in the holy western city of Makkah.
The ultra-conservative kingdom beheaded 78 people in 2013, according to an AFP count.
Last year, the UN High Commission for Human Rights denounced a “sharp increase in the use of capital punishment” since 2011 in Saudi Arabia.
According to figures from Amnesty International, the number of executions in the country rose from 27 in 2010, of whom five were foreigners, to 82 in 2011, including 28 foreigners.
In 2012, the number of executions slipped slightly to 79 people, among them 27 foreigners.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, homosexuality and drug trafficking are all punishable by death unde…

Indonesia: Police Detain 7 in International Meth Ring Flying From Aceh to Jakarta

Jakarta Police arrested seven suspected drug traffickers at the capital’s airport and other locations earlier this month with 6.5 kilogram of crystal methamphetamine worth Rp 13 billion ($1.1 million), a police spokesman said.
“The drug division has successfully arrested seven suspects and confiscated 6.5 kilogram of crystal meth, two passports, scales, a Walther firearm and five rubber bullets,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said at his office on Thursday.
He said that the syndicate, which police say operated out of China, Indonesia and Malaysia, was uncovered after suspect S.Y.M. was arrested at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Feb. 4, 2014. When searched, the officer found 100 gram of crystal meth inside his shoes.
“The suspect, S.Y.M, brought the crystal meth from Banda Aceh on a [Garuda Indonesia] airplane,” Rikwanto said. “It was not detected in the airport, but he was arrested by police officers when he stepped out of the airport.”
S.Y.M. told police that …

Judge OKs second death penalty expert for Tsarnaev defense

Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev added a second death penalty expert to his defense team today, less than a month after federal prosecutors announced they would seek execution if he is convicted in the deadly attacks, according to court papers.
U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. allowed the appointment of David A. Bruck, an attorney with extensive experience in death penalty cases — including seven that appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. Bruck will join Judy Clarke, a death penalty expert who won life sentences for several high-profile mass killers, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Tucson, Ariz., mass shooter Jared Loughner.
Tsarnaev’s attorneys previously had a request to appoint Bruck denied without prejudice. In their most recent request “the defendant has made a satisfactory showing that the appointment of Mr. Buck is ‘necessary for adequate representation,’” according to O’Toole’s order.
The motion promp…

Virginia lethal injection drug same as one in Ohio suit

The Virginia Department of Corrections said Thursday that it has approved the sedative midazolam as an alternative first drug in the state's three-drug execution protocol. Midazolam was one of two drugs used in last month's execution of an Ohio inmate who made snorting and gasping sounds and took an unusually long 26 minutes to die. His family is suing Ohio.
Illinois-based Hospira Inc., which manufactures midazolam, opposes its use for capital punishment but has been unable to stop state prison systems from obtaining it from suppliers.
The development comes as many death penalty states are grappling with a shortage of drugs that can be used in executions. Many of the drugs are manufactured in European countries that have prohibited their export for use in capital punishment.
Virginia lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow the state to use the electric chair in executions if lethal injection drugs are not available when an inmate's execution date arrives. U…