Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Texas argues that it knows how to properly execute an inmate

Texas attorneys argued that the state's record shows that it can execute death row inmates without causing them needless suffering as they moved Wednesday to oppose a delay in the next scheduled execution.

In papers filed in federal court for Houston, Texas officials opposed any stay of execution for convicted murderer Robert James Campbell, scheduled to be executed Tuesday. Lawyers for Campbell argued that the recent botched execution of an inmate in Oklahoma shows that inmates should be given information on the supplier and quality of the drugs used in executions to prevent suffering that would violate the Constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"The Constitution does not require the elimination of all risk of pain," the state argued in its 32-page response. A constitutional problem arises, state officials contended, only if conditions are "sure or very likely to cause serious illness and needless suffering" and create "sufficiently imminent dangers."

Texas authorities reported that they intend to use a single lethal injection of a 5-gram dose of pentobarbital, a barbiturate, and argued that the state is not required to reveal the source or supplier of the drug. States, in general, have argued that it is permissible to keep execution details secret to prevent suppliers from facing political pressure.

A bipartisan panel this week recommended that the 3-drug cocktail used by Oklahoma and other states be replaced with a single shot of an anesthetic or barbiturate, the current protocol in Texas.

In defending its plan, Texas notes that pentobarbital - unlike the drug, midazolam, used in Oklahoma - has been used effectively across the nation and in 33 executions in Texas.

"Defendants safely and successfully used pentobarbital from a licensed compounding pharmacy for 7 executions in Texas, which was tested at 98.8% potency, and these executions all concluded without incident. Further, since switching to a different and undisclosed compounding pharmacy, the defendants have safely and successfully carried out 3 more executions without incident," the state argued.

Oklahoma's execution protocol went awry in the April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett. During the proceeding, Lockett writhed in pain and made noises until the execution was stopped. He died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the execution process began, said Oklahoma officials, who blamed a burst vein.

Source: Chicago Tribune, May 8, 2014

Federal lawsuit may stop execution for Texas death row inmate

Robert Campbell's lawyers want the prison to reveal the source of the sedative drug pentobarbital, which is planned to be used in Campbell's execution scheduled for May 13.

Karma has strange ways of turning the tables. Texas death row inmate, Robert Campbell might agree. Even though Campbell was convicted in 1991 for the rape and murder of a Houston woman, his lawyers have filed federal civil rights lawsuit against the state that could save his life.

Campbell's lawyers want the prison to reveal the source of the sedative drug pentobarbital, which is planned to be used in Campbell's execution scheduled for May 13.

Many states are scrambling to find new sources of execution drugs because drug makers that oppose the death penalty, have stopped selling to prisons and correctional facilities.

Cambpell's decision to file suit comes after Oklahoma death row inmate, Clayton Lockett, died after a failed execution by lethal injection, a couple weeks ago.

Lockett died in what some say was a tortured death. According to Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Lockett died of a heart attack about 20 minutes after the execution process had been halted.

As for Campbell, maybe we'll see what happens in court. Either way, the lawsuit may be his only shot.

Source: newsfixnow.com, May 8, 2014

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