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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Florida: Judge denies Tommy Ziegler's DNA request

A judge on Monday denied a new request by Tommy Zeigler to analyze bloodstains on his crime scene clothing, the longtime death row inmate's latest attempt to exonerate himself in the 1975 Christmas Eve killings of his wife, in-laws and customer at his Winter Garden furniture store.

In the 30-page ruling, Orange-Osceola Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead held that Zeigler's petition for DNA testing was too similar to others that he's made previously and that the potential discoveries would not be great enough to rule him out as the perpetrator.

"Having carefully listened to the testimony presented at the evidentiary hearing and argument from the parties, the Court finds the authenticity of the DNA is questionable because it may be contaminated based on a lack of protective equipment when it was handled and/or improper storage," the judge wrote.

Eunice Zeigler, her parents Perry and Virginia Edwards and store customer Charles Mays were killed in the Christmas Eve attack. Zeigler was also shot in the stomach and maintains they were held up in a store robbery by Mays and others. Prosecutors have argued that Zeigler concocted the plan, luring Mays to the scene as a scapegoat, to pocket a life insurance policy on his wife.

In a March hearing, attorneys for Zeigler argued that more sensitive and technologically advanced DNA tests could show he did not shoot, beat and bludgeon the victims to death.

The technique, called "Touch DNA" testing, would settle it because it could detect if Zeigler's DNA transferred onto the victims from contact during a physical struggle.

Prosecutors with the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office opposed the petition, citing two previous opinions from the Florida Supreme Court, which found such evidence wouldn't be enough to exonerate Zeigler. The last round of DNA testing was done in 2001. It proved that Perry Edward's blood was not present on Zeigler's shirt and pants, as prosecutors argued in the original trial, but was found on May's clothing.

A judge in 2003 ruled that evidence was not compelling enough to prove Zeigler's innocence because there were multiple sources of blood at the crime scene.

In denying the most recent request, Whitehead questioned why Zeigler did not test all the blood stains he wanted to during the 2001 probe.

Attorneys for Zeigler asserted that the desired technology to do so was not available then. They also said they would privately finance the testing.

"We're obviously disappointed that [the judge] didn't see the merit and the application," said one of Zeigler's attorneys, John Houston Pope of New York. "We'll read what he has to say carefully, and see what the next steps are."

Source: Orlando Sentinel, July 20, 2016


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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