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Showing posts from October, 2016

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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…

Saudi Arabia: Prisoner pardoned by victim's parents, released after 15 years on death row

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After 15 years on the death row, a Chadian prisoner was released due to the efforts of the National Human Rights Society. A source said Chadian prisoner Bashir Al-Ghali was sentenced to death for murder 15 years ago.
“The prisoner spent 5,500 days in prison waiting for the day of his execution. He is the oldest prisoner on death row. And was freed after the President of the National Human Rights Society Saleh Al-Ghamdi reached out to the Director of Jeddah Prisons Col. Manie Al-Otaibi,” said the source.
The source also said the prisoner shed tears of happiness and will soon be deported back to his country.
“The prisoner is now 45 years old and has spent a third of his life in the prisons of Jeddah. He expressed his gratitude to the National Human Rights Society for exerting great efforts in reaching out to the family of the victim and asking for forgiveness on his behalf,” said the source.
The source also said the prisoner was also grateful for Jeddah prisons as he was able to memori…

Alabama death row inmate’s appeal denied by Supreme Court

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The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the appeal of death row inmate William Ernest Kuenzel, a former Goodwater resident sentenced in 1988 for the murder of Sylacauga convenience store clerk Linda Jean Offord.
Without comment, the justices turned down Kuenzel’s appeal petition, clearing away one of the last hurdles to Kuenzel’s execution.
Kuenzel was sentenced to death for killing Offord in a botched late-night robbery in 1987. An accomplice, Harvey Venn, served time in prison and has been released.
In recent years, Kuenzel attracted a widespread following of advocates who say he’s innocent. They cite a lack of physical evidence connecting Kuenzel to the crime – blood was found on Venn’s pants, but no similar evidence was found on Kuenzel – and a lack of reliable testimony.
Under state law, testimony from Venn, a co-defendant, isn’t enough to convict a man of murder. Kuenzel’s lawyers have challenged the testimony of another witness who placed Kuenzel at the crime scene – a teen who sa…

Alabama: Arthur's execution set for Thursday

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Douglas Arthur and his sister, Sherrie Stone, have been on an emotional rollercoaster for 40 years, and now they are preparing for what they believe could be their last ride.
Their father, Tommy Arthur, is scheduled to be executed Nov. 3, for his involvement in the 1982 murder-for-hire death of Muscle Shoals resident Troy Wicker.
"I was 15 when my father went to prison (for the 1st time). I am now 55, and been through 40 years of appeals and scheduled executions," said Stone. "This is my father's 7th scheduled execution. I'm not sure if he will be executed. The 6 previous scheduled executions, a few right up to just hours before, were stayed."
Douglas Arthur, Stone's younger brother, believes his father's execution will happen this time.
Like his sister, Arthur has endured 6 occasions when it appeared his father would be executed.
Arthur, now 54, said he has visited his father numerous times in prison and still keeps in contact through telephone ca…

Pakistan stays execution of mentally ill prisoner

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Pakistan’s Supreme Court has stayed the execution of a severely mentally ill man who was due to be hanged this Wednesday (2nd).
Imdad Ali has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Recent prison medical assessments have described Mr Ali as “insane”, and concluded that his is “a treatment-resistant case.” The execution of mentally ill people is illegal under Pakistani and international law, but despite this, the Pakistani authorities had scheduled Mr Ali’s hanging for this week.
This morning, the Supreme Court postponed Mr Ali’s hanging after a fresh petition from his lawyers at the Justice Project Pakistan, and following an intervention in support of Mr Ali from the government of Punjab province, where he is held. In a rare move, the Court has now decided to review its own recent judgment, in which judges dismissed Mr Ali’s appeal and paved the way for his execution. The fresh hearing is set to take place in the second week of November.
The news follows growing calls to save Mr …

Iran death penalty: Justice minister calls for fewer executions

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Iran's justice minister is looking for an "effective punishment" for criminals instead of execution, according to local media.
Mostafa Pourmohammadi said he thought the number of capital crimes should be revised, the Tasnim News Agency said.
"In fact we want to find the most effective kind of punishment so that we are able to consider replacing execution," Mr Pourmohammadi said.
The minister said the death penalty should be kept for "corrupt people".
"Of course, maintaining execution as a punishment is still on the agenda, but not in the numbers implemented today," Mr Pourmohammadi said.
"The punishment of execution cannot be rejected, as there are some corrupt people in the country and there is no way for them but execution," he added.
However, the minister observed that executions seemed to have had no deterrent effect over the past years.
Iran executed at least 977 people in 2015 - the vast majority for drug-related crimes - co…

Council of Europe warns Turkey over death penalty restoration plans

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The Council of Europe warned Turkey against re-establishing the death penalty on Oct. 30.
"Executing the death penalty is incompatible with membership of the Council of Europe," the 47-member organization, which includes Turkey, tweeted a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government would ask parliament to consider reintroduction.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz added to the Council's warning, denouncing Turkey for considering a move that would "slam the door shut to the European Union."
"The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane form of punishment, which has to be abolished worldwide and stands in clear contradiction to European values," Kurz told the Austrian Press Agency.
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland had in August warned Ankara about reinstating capital punishment, noting that the European Convention on Human Rights, which Turkey has ratified, clearly excluded it.
The Convention, signed in 1983, ex…

New Zealander Peter Gardner facing death sentence for smuggling 30kgs of meth begins third year in Chinese jail

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A Kiwi facing the death penalty for attempting to smuggle 30 kilograms of methamphetamine out of China will begin his 3rd year in jail without knowing his fate.
And Peter Gardner will have to wait for at least another 3 months after the Chinese court deliberating his fate had extended his detention to 25 January 2017.
His lawyer Craig Tuck said Gardner was holding up as best as could be expected under the circumstances.
"There is no indication about how long this will continue or when a decision will be made.
"He is deeply grateful for the love and support of his family and friends. The situation is extremely difficult for his family and they seek to maintain their privacy until this matter is resolved."
Gardner, a Kiwi and Australian citizen, was stopped from boarding his Sydney-bound China Southern flight from Guangzhou in November with travelling companion Kalynda Davis, after customs officials detected 30 kilograms of the drug methamphetamine, also commonly known a…

UK: Executed soldiers recognized a century later

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A SERVICE has been held to remember soldiers who were executed for mutiny during the First World War.
The names of three soldiers were added to the National Memorial Arboretum’s Shot at Dawn memorial, which commemorates 306 soldiers killed for desertion or cowardice during the conflict.
One of the three to be remembered was Jesse Robert Short, from Newcastle, a corporal in the 24th Battalion (Tyneside Irish) Northumberland Fusiliers, who is thought to have been the inspiration behind the TV drama Monocled Mutineer.
Cpl Short apparently incited his men to throw an officer in the river at Etaples in September 1917.
New Zealander Private Jack Braithwaite and Gunner William Lewis, from Scotland, were also remembered at the service on Saturday, October 29.
Jack Braithwaite, of Dunedin, volunteered for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in May 1915.
He served in Egypt and was later sent to France in April 1916.
While serving in France, he fell foul of the military authorities on a number of…

Scientist’s behavioral issues cast doubt on Ohio convictions

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Dozens, if not hundreds, of criminal convictions in Ohio could be in jeopardy because a longtime forensic scientist at the state crime lab now stands accused of slanting evidence to help cops and prosecutors build their cases.
The credibility of G. Michele Yezzo, who worked at the Ohio attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation for more than three decades, has been challenged in two cases in which men were convicted of aggravated murder. One has been freed from prison because of her now-suspect work.
A review of her personnel records by The Dispatch shows that colleagues and supervisors raised questions about Yezzo time and again while she tested evidence and testified in an uncounted number of murder, rape and other criminal cases in the state.
Their concerns included that she presented evidence in the best light for prosecutors instead of objectively, used suspect methods while examining trace evidence from some crime scenes, and made mistakes that, as one former attorney …

'Rectify': Inside the Compelling TV Drama's Swan Song

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About a decade ago, actor Ray McKinnon became fascinated with several stories he'd seen about death-row inmates who had been freed because of DNA evidence. "I just started wondering what their lives must be like the first day they got out," he says. "And then I really thought: 'What's the second day like?'"
That question inspired Rectify, one of the most emotionally affecting dramas about the criminal justice system on TV. The series, which premiered in 2013, tells the story of Daniel Holden, a Georgia man convicted of rape and murder, who spent half his life in solitary confinement on death row – only to be released by DNA evidence and suddenly finds himself plunged into an alien world of freedom and choice. 
Each member of his family reacts differently to his homecoming: His sister Amantha, who worked for years with her lawyer boyfriend to free him, welcomes him with open arms; his mother and stepfather seem wary; his stepbrother is jealous. Moreo…

Texas on trial for using fictional character in death penalty cases

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The US state of Texas has come under fire for its use of a character from "Of Mice and Men" in determining if defendants are mentally ill. The so-called "Lennie Standard" has put several men on death row.
In November, the United States Supreme Court will hear a case that might shock even those familiar with Texas' reputation for being hawkish when it comes to capital punishment. Although the court outlawed execution of the mentally incompetent in 2002, Texas has continued to use the murky legal definitions of sanity and disability to execute mentally ill prisoners.
At the center of the upcoming "Moore versus Texas" is not only the state's reliance on outdated medical parameters, but the use of the so-called "Lennie Standard." This is the name Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Cathy Cochran gave "an unscientific seven-pronged test … based on the character Lennie Smalls from John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men,'" ac…