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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Virginia death row inmate Ivan Teleguz seeks stay of execution

Ivan Teleguz
Ivan Teleguz
RICHMOND—A Virginia death row inmate convicted of hiring a man to kill his ex-girlfriend has asked a federal appeals court to put his April execution on hold so the U.S. Supreme Court can review his appeal.

Attorneys for Ivan Teleguz filed a motion Tuesday asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to stay his scheduled execution so the nation’s highest court can hear arguments that he was denied the right to effective counsel.

Teleguz, who is from Ukraine, was sentenced to death in 2006 for hiring a man to kill Stephanie Sipe, the mother of his child. She was stabbed to death in her Harrisonburg apartment, and prosecutors said Teleguz wanted get out of paying child support.

He has maintained his innocence, and two key prosecution witnesses have recanted since his conviction.

An appeals court in 2012 ordered a hearing on his innocence claim, but a judge refused to overturn his conviction after one of the witnesses who recanted refused to testify and the other didn’t show up.

In October, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Teleguz, who argued that his 2006 trial attorneys were inadequate because they introduced testimony that Teleguz was involved in another killing that he says never happened.

His attorneys say the new appeal makes a different claim of ineffective counsel that’s never been heard by any court. It must be reviewed under a Supreme Court ruling issued in 2012 that requires federal courts to address claims such as Teleguz’s, they say.

Attorney General Mark Herring’s office said it will respond in a court filing.

Teleguz’s execution is scheduled for April 25.

Source: Associated Press, March 8, 2017

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