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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…

Supreme Court halts Missouri execution

Ernest Lee Johnson
Ernest Lee Johnson
The Supreme Court on Tuesday night halted a scheduled execution in Missouri, saying that the lethal injection should be delayed until after a lower court rules.

Ernest Lee Johnson was sentenced to death for killing 3 people with a claw hammer in 1994.

His attorneys wrote in filings asking the Supreme Court to stay the execution that Johnson had brain surgery in 2008 to remove a tumor, but that part of the tumor could not be removed.

Johnson is missing between 15 and 20 % of his brain, the attorneys wrote. As a result, Johnson has brain damage and a doctor cited as a medical expert believes he could suffer seizures due to the lethal injection, his attorneys said.

The office of Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster argued in court filings that the execution should proceed, writing that Johnson waited too long to make his argument.

In an unsigned order, the justices said they were granting the stay request pending an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.

The complaint from Johnson "alleges that Missouri's method of execution violates the Eighth Amendment as applied to a person with his particular medical condition," the justices wrote.

In the order, the justices continued:

A supporting affidavit by a medical expert states that "[a]s a result of Mr. Johnson's brain tumor, brain defect, and brain scar, a substantial risk of serious harm will occur during his execution as result of a violent seizure that may be induced by [the] Pentobarbital injection."

They went on to say that the appeals court will have to decide whether a complaint of Johnson's that was dismissed was properly dismissed or should have been allowed to progress.

Johnson was scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. local time.

Source: Washington Post, November 3, 2015

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