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…

Taiwan: 6 prisoners executed

June 5, 2015: Six executions were conducted in the evening, one week after the brutal murder of a schoolgirl, media reports said.

Media reported that three death row prisoners in Taipei and one each in Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung faced the firing squad, though the Ministry of Justice failed to confirm reports emerging hours before the event. Shots were heard by reporters waiting outside the Taipei Detention Center at around 5 p.m., the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported. The paper said that the six executions had been completed by 7 p.m.

Justice Minister Lo Ying-shay had signed the orders for the simultaneous executions to be conducted Friday (June 5) evening, cutting the number of death penalty convicts still alive to 42.

The deaths were the first series of executions under Lo’s governance since April 29 last year.

The number of death row convicts fell to 47 at the time, but last September, the Supreme Court issued a death verdict for an arsonist who caused the deaths of five people at a karaoke bar, bringing the total up to 48, reports said.

The media published a list of the six individuals before the executions. It included Huang Chu-wang, who first shot two gangsters and later kidnapped and buried the relative of a rival alive in 1997. He later paid off a prison guard to escape and was found with numerous guns in his possession.

Huang’s relatives filed a special appeal Friday evening, but it was rejected, and he was executed in Taichung, reports said.

The other men reportedly executed Friday included Wang Hsiu-fang, who clubbed his neighbor and her three-year-old daughter to death, Cheng Chin-wen, who killed two debt collectors, Tsao Tien-shou, a taxi driver who raped and killed a 14-year-old girl but was only found out after another crime ten years later, Wang Chun-chin, who killed a taxi driver in a dispute over a fare, and Wang Yu-lung, a Pingtung police officer who killed two women.

The new round of executions comes at a time when the debate about capital punishment fired up again after an intruder stabbed an eight-year-old girl inside the Wenhua Elementary School in Taipei City’s Beitou District on May 29. The pupil died in hospital the following day, dashing hopes she might recover. 

Sources: Taiwan News, Hands Off Cain, June 5, 2015

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