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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

U.S. Supreme Court denies Texans' appeals

2 Texans on death row for separate slayings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have lost appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Without comment, the justices refused Monday to review the cases of 52-year-old Joseph Lave and 54-year-old Juan Segundo.

Lave was condemned to die in a 1992 robbery in which 2 teenagers were killed and almost decapitated. 

Segundo was arrested nearly 19 years after an 11-year-old Fort Worth girl was raped and strangled in her home.

Neither man has an execution date schedule.

Joseph Lave


In November 1992, 2 teenagers working at a Herman's World of Sporting Goods store in Richardson were killed in a brutal robbery.

Frederick Banzhaf and Justin Marquart, both 18, were bound and blindfolded with duct tape before their heads were bashed with a hammer and their throats were slashed nearly ear to ear.

Angie King, a store manager at the time, was also attacked and bound but she was able to free herself and called police.

Lave was 1 of 3 suspects and got the death sentence after King identified him as the killer based on his voice, which she said sounded like Donald Duck's.

Lave's execution date was halted in 2007 when the Dallas County district attorney's office realized evidence was not turned over to Lave's attorneys that included a 2nd polygraph test by a co-defendant.

Lave has remained in prison as his case made its way through the court system to the Supreme Court.

Juan Segundo


In August 1986, an 11-year-old Fort Worth girl was raped and strangled. Her 3 young cousins slept through the attack after the killer removed a window fan to quietly slip into the room.

Her family found a note written in a dictionary in Vanessa Villa's befroom.

"Mama, take me from this place. I'm scared," the note read, according to her uncle Juan Carranza.

Vanessa might have been assaulted before and Segundo threatened her to keep quiet, so she wrote the note, he said.

2 decades later, a national DNA database matched Segundo to her slaying. Attorneys claimed last year that Segundo's lawyers were deficient in the 2006 Tarrant County trial and failed to properly investigate and develop evidence that he was intellectually disabled, but courts have rejected that claim.

Source: Dallas Morning News, February 23, 2017

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