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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…

China arrests police officer who oversaw case of teenager wrongfully executed in 1996

Huugjilt
BEIJING — A Chinese police officer who oversaw the case of a teenager wrongfully convicted of murder and executed in 1996 has been arrested in a case that has caught national attention, the official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday.

Feng Zhiming, now a deputy police chief in the northern city of Hohhot, was charged with torture to coerce confession, dereliction of duty and taking bribes, Xinhua said.

His arrest on Wednesday came two days after the Inner Mongolia Higher People’s Court overturned the conviction of Huugjilt, who was 18 years old when he was sentenced to death and executed over the killing of a woman in a public toilet in Hohhot. The court cited a lack of evidence in clearing Huugjilt, who used only one name like many ethnic Mongolians.

Although Chinese police have routinely used torture to extract confessions, especially in high-profile cases, this case has caused public outrage because it coincided with the Chinese government’s recently stated goal to obey the rule of law, and Huugjilt’s case has been made an example of Beijing’s efforts to correct past wrongs.

At the time of Huugjilt’s conviction, Feng was a deputy district police chief in charge of the case. According to the state media, Feng and his colleagues were rewarded for promptly solving the murder case following Huugjilt’s execution.

Huugjilt had told police he found the woman’s body after hearing a cry for help.

A convicted serial rapist and murderer confessed to the crime in 2005. He was never tried for the 1996 killing and has not been executed for the other murders. It took the judiciary another nine years to review the verdict against Huugjilt.

Source: The Associated Press, December 18, 2014

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