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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Florida: Gregory Larkin commits suicide while on death row for killing his parents

Gregory Larkin
Gregory Larkin, 41, apparently committed suicide Wednesday night in his death row cell at Florida State Prison, authorities told the Times-Union. 

Family members told a woman who helped in Larkin's case that an autopsy found he died of apparent asphyxiation, about 2 years after being sent to the prison in Bradford County.

State prison officials declined to discuss the cause or manner of death or other details, such as whether Larkin was on suicide watch and how guards were monitoring him. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating as a routine matter in such deaths in state prison. An FDLE spokeswoman declined to comment.

Larkin is the 4th death row inmate to commit suicide in Florida since 2000, according to the Department of Corrections. The other 3 deaths were at Union Correctional Institution.

The suffering for Gregory Larkin's family began after they learned someone had beaten his parents to death in their Fernandina Beach home in April 2009. Their decomposed bodies were found a week later in what veteran lawman Tommy Seagraves, then the Nassau County sheriff, called the most brutal killings he'd ever seen.

Larkin's family suffered again when police charged him two weeks later with killing his 73-year-old mother with a baseball bat and 75-year-old father with a statue. The motive, prosecutors said, was an alcohol-fueled rage over his parents selling a struggling business managed by Larkin, then 35.

Larkin represented himself in the 2012 trial without putting up a defense. His stand-by public defender called Larkin delusional and said Circuit Judge Robert Foster's ruling to allow him to represent himself - after 2 of 3 psychiatrists said he was competent to do so - was "state-assisted suicide." Foster agreed with the jury's unanimous decision to sentence Larkin to death.

Larkin exhibited bizarre behavior before and during his trial, his appellate lawyers later argued. That includes saying witnesses would tell jurors he didn't commit the crime while they were actually saying the opposite and that there was a conspiracy to wait until Foster retired before putting him on trial.

Larkin, who hired and fired private attorneys and his public defender, didn't make any arguments on his own behalf. A 12-person jury convicted him in January 2012 and unanimously recommended death.

Assistant Public Defender Brian Morrissey, appointed as stand-by counsel, sought to have Larkin's mental health evaluated after he was convicted, but before he was sentenced by Foster. Morrissey said then he believed Larkin was delusional.

Larkin's appellate lawyers argued his conviction and death sentence should be overturned because of doubts that he was competent enough to represent himself.

But the Florida Supreme Court unanimously rejected the argument because 2 doctors found him competent, and Foster disagreed with Morrissey's contention that Larkin had demonstrated delusional behavior during his criminal trial.

Larkin's appellate lawyers were working on a new plea when he died.

Source: Florida Times-Union, May 30, 2015

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