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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

India's Supreme Court Stays 2 Executions

The Supreme Court has stayed the execution of 2 death row convicts - Vikram Singh and Jasvir Singh, who were sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing a 16-year-old boy after demanding a ransom of Rs 50 lakh from his father.

The bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Amitava Roy stayed the execution of death sentence and posted the matter to 2.00 pm on Monday (October 24th) for the final disposal.

The sessions court had issued death warrants for the execution of the 2 convicts on 25th of this month.

A petition for re-opening the review petition was filed by the convicts through Advocate BS Billowaria, in view of the Supreme Court judgment in Mohammed Arif vs. Registrar, Supreme Court.

In Arif's case, the constitution bench of the Supreme Court by 4:1 majority extended the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution by holding that hearing of cases in which death sentence has been awarded should be by a bench of 3 judges and the hearing of review petitions in death sentence cases should not be by circulation but should only be in open court.

Factual Background


The review petitioners were tried, convicted and sentenced to death under Sections 302 and 364A of the Indian Penal Code, for kidnapping and killing a 16-year-old boy and demanding a ransom of Rs 50 lakh from his father. The conviction and sentence awarded to them was affirmed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, and later by the Supreme Court.

Later, the review petitioners filed a writ petition before the high court challenging the constitutionality of Section 364A awarding death penalty, which also got dismissed.

Thereafter, they filed an appeal before the Supreme Court. A 3-judge bench had dismissed the appeal, and held that Section 364A awarding death penalty as a possible punishment, for kidnapping any person threatening to cause death in order to compel government or any other person, to pay ransom , is not unconstitutional.

Source: livelaw.in, October 18, 2016

Supreme Court stays death sentence of two Punjab convicts


Mercy petition rejected by President

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the death sentence of two men convicted of kidnapping and killing the son of a Hoshiarpur-based goldsmith in 2005.

The two convicts, Jasbir Singh and his brother-in-law, Vikram Singh, whose mercy petition was recently rejected by the President, were due to be hanged this week.

The two were convicted of kidnapping and then murdering Abhi Verma (16), son of goldsmith Ravi Verma in 2005.

The bench headed by Justice Deepak Mishra, including Justice AM Khanwalkar and Justice Amitav Roy, stayed the death sentence. The bench is hearing a review petition of their mercy plea.

The Punjab Prison Department had summoned a hangman from Uttar Pradesh to carry out the execution later this week.

BS Baloria, advocate for the convicts, said the court had stayed the sentence till further orders.

Jasbir and Vikram Singh, along with former’s wife Sonia, had been awarded death sentence by a Hoshiarpur court in September 2005.

They had demanded a ransom of Rs 50 lakh from Abhi’s father Ravi Verma. Abhi was injected with chloroform and fortwin in heavy doses after tying his both hands and legs and sealing his mouth with a tape to prevent detection of offence.

Source: The Tribune, October 18, 2016

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