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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Japan: Top court upholds death sentence for killer of two women

Tokyo street, Japan
CRIME JUL. 22, 2016 - 10:40AM JST ( 8 ) TOKYO — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal from a man who was sentenced to death in 2013 for murdering the mother and grandmother of a woman he had been stalking.

Gota Tsutsui, 31, from Kuwana in Mie Prefecture, was convicted of stabbing to death Mitsuko Yamashita, 56, and her mother, Hisae Yamashita, 77, in the back of their minivan outside their home in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Dec 16, 2011. The victims were the mother and grandmother of Tsutsui’s former girlfriend.

Prior to the murders, Tsutsui sent 17 emails to the woman’s relatives threatening to kill them if they interfered with his efforts to get back together with his ex-girlfriend.

Tsutsui admitted to killing the two women when he was arrested but during his trial, he changed his plea to not guilty, claiming the police had coerced him to confess, Fuji TV reported. However, the Nagasaki District Court sentenced him to death.

The Supreme Court ruled that Tsutsui’s confession was credible and finalized the death sentence.

The case gained notoriety when it was revealed that Chiba prefectural police failed to act on a complaint against the stalker and went off on a holiday.

After the murders, the National Public Safety Commission reprimanded 20 police officers at Chiba police headquarters, and at Narashino police station, where the complaint was filed.

The court heard that Tsutsui had been warned twice by Chiba police and was already under investigation for assaulting Mitsuko Yamashita’s then 23-year-old daughter.

The girl’s father, Makoto Yamashita, first contacted Chiba police on Oct 29, 2011, to alert them to the violence, following which Tsutsui was given a warning by police. Tsutsui continued to harass the girl by telephone and email and was again warned by police to leave her alone. Investigators said Tsutsui promised not to contact her again and went back to Mie.

Yamashita and his daughter visited police in person on Dec 6, 2011, to file charges against Tsutsui for assault. However, the police told him they were busy with “more urgent cases” and asked him to come back the following week. Twelve officers then went on a three-day trip to Hokkaido.

In its initial investigation into the case, Chiba prefectural police omitted references to the leisure trip but were forced to acknowledge it after local media revealed the details.

After the murders, Makoto told media that the Chiba police were unfit to call themselves an organization that protects the public. He also called Tsutsui “the worst example of humanity.”

Six lay judges and three professional judges heard the case in 2013.

Source: Japan Today, July 22, 2016


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