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Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

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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…

Missouri: Mark Christeson granted stay of execution

Mark Christeson
Mark Christeson
The US supreme court has halted the execution of a Missouri man who killed a woman and her two children, with judges citing concerns that his legal counsel was ineffective.

Mark Christeson, 35, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection at 12.01am on Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre before the late stay of execution was issued. Missouri corrections department spokesman Mike O’Connell said the next move would be decided in court.

Jennifer Merrigan, one of Christeson’s attorneys, declined comment.

The appeal to the supreme court raised several concerns about legal counsel Christeson has received over the years, including the failure of some of his attorneys to meet a 2005 deadline to file for an appeal hearing before a federal court. It is uncommon for someone to be executed without a federal court appeal hearing.

The high court denied a second appeal challenging the state’s planned use of a made-to-order execution drug produced by an unidentified compounding pharmacy.

Christeson would have been the ninth man executed in Missouri this year, matching an all-time high for the state set in 1999.

When he was 18, Christeson and his 17-year-old cousin, Jesse Carter, came up with a plan to run away from the home outside Vichy where they were living with a relative. A plot to steal a Ford Bronco escalated into the rape and murder of its owner, Susan Brouk, 36, and the murder of her 12-year-old daughter Adrian and nine-year-old son Kyle.

Christeson and Carter drove to California, selling household items stolen from Brouk along the way. They were eventually arrested eight days after the killings.

Carter was sentenced to life in prison without parole after agreeing to testify against Christeson.

Source: The Guardian, October 29, 2014

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