Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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…

Lover of Colorado theatre shooting suspect gives testimony on 'killing talk'

James E. Holmes and attorney
James E. Holmes
DENVER, the United States, June 13 (Xinhua) -- James Holmes, suspect of the deadly Colorado theatre shooting, was so intimate with his first lover that he told her about his ongoing desire to kill people, a shocked jury was told in court this week.

Mass murderer Holmes, then 24, confided to his ex-girlfriend Gargi Datta about his homicidal thoughts just months before he unloaded three guns into an unsuspecting movie audience, leaving 12 dead and 70 injured.

Holmes has admitted to the shooting but is pleading "not guilty by reason of insanity" to avoid the death penalty.

Datta, whose words stunned the courtroom, didn't think Holmes was serious, but told her boyfriend to seek psychiatric help.

"What do you want to do?" Datta remembered asking Holmes via instant message.

"Kill people, of course," Holmes shot back.

"Why don't you kill me..?" Datta asked.

"I told you I can't do that," Holmes replied. "If I did that I' d get caught and I couldn't kill more people. I'd also lose the rest of my life."

Datta's testimony was especially powerful because it revealed Holmes knew what he was doing was wrong, one of the benchmarks in denying insanity as a defense for murder.

Holmes faces either life in a mental institution, or execution - if found sane the hot summer night in 2012 when he walked into a packed Batman midnight movie premiere with three guns, and ripped hundreds of bullets into the seated crowd.

The shooter killed 10 people under 30, including a 6-year-old girl, and crippled her 24-year-old pregnant mother. Holmes also injured and maimed dozens more.

He faces 166 counts of murder and attempted murder in one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history.

As capital murder trial ended its seventh week Friday, Datta's dramatic testimony unveiled the human, "awkward and shy" side of Holmes, but also supported the prosecution's case that he was sane when he committed the massacre.

Datta, whose first date with Holmes was to a "horror film" in October 2011, testified just after the prosecution had introduced a second psychiatrist who testified that Holmes is legally sane.

District Attorney George Brauchler called to the stand Tuesday state psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, who did extensive psychiatric exams on Holmes in the summer of 2013.

"It's my opinion that despite having a mental disease..." Metzner said, "that Mr. Holmes had the capacity to tell the difference between right from wrong from a societal standpoint at the time of the commission of the alleged crimes."

Although more than a dozen psychiatrists are expected to testify during the trial that will last until September, the first two Metzner and William Reid were both appointed by the court and interviewed Holmes for a combined 47 hours.

Reid, whose testimony dominated court proceedings last week, said Holmes "regretted" the act, but his mental condition also fits the legal definition of "sanity", thus paving the way for his execution.

Metzner interviewed Holmes four times for a total of 25 hours in the summer of 2013.

The defense says Holmes is insane and therefore should be spared death, a legal position handed down from British law dating back hundreds of years.

When it presents its case beginning in July, the defense is expected to bombard the court with psychiatrists who will say Holmes suffers from a life-long struggle with schizophrenia that made him insane when he pulled the triggers on July 20, 2012.

Datta started dating the mass murderer two months after they met as incoming students in the University of Colorado's prestigious Ph.D. neuroscience program.

Her macabre testimony Thursday silenced the courtroom as she repeated Holmes' convoluted notion that killing "increases your personal worth" by using people as "human capital".

As the prosecution's case enters its last three weeks, Brauchler is pushing the case that Holmes was sane by showing his careful planning and the knowledge he was doing "evil".

In addition, the prosecution is still mixing gruesome crime scene images that may have emotional impact on the jury, despite warnings from the judge to leave emotions out of their decision.

Earlier in the week, Brauchler presented the most horrific images of the crime scene this far.

In a shocking, silent 45-minute video, Aurora police investigator Amanda Kelsey showed the court on Tuesday the inside of the Century 6 movie theaters just hours after the attack.

The disturbing video showed a scene of chaos and carnage popcorn scattered around pools of blood, dead bodies lying in contorted positions, empty bullet casings and discarded guns, and personal items - clothing and cell phones - left by terrified patrons who fled the scene.

The entire courtroom sat in stunned silence at the end of the video, as the judge called for a recess.

Arapahoe District Court Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. shook up the jury this week by dismissing three jurors after learning one was exposed to news coverage of the case and had discussed it with the others.

Samour found that three women violated his specific orders to avoid outside information on the trial and not talk to others about the trial.

The judge is a stickler for procedure and protocol and is bent on having a fair, balanced, impartial trial. He tells jurors every day in court "not to discuss the case with anyone."

The first woman told Samour her husband called her and said the district attorney sent a tweet message during testimony that he saw in the news.

Two other women jurors were also dismissed Tuesday because they likely overheard her, Samour ruled.

The dismissals reduce the jury to 21 people, now consisting of 16 women and 5 men.

Source: Xinhua, Peter Mertz, June 13, 2015

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