No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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…

Texas death row inmate loses appeal seeking new DNA testing

Rodney Reed
Rodney Reed
HOUSTON (AP) — The top criminal appeals court in Texas on Wednesday refused to allow additional DNA testing of evidence in an inmate's lengthy death penalty case.

Rodney Reed's attorneys sought the testing on more than 40 items collected in the investigation into the 1996 abduction, rape and strangling of 19-year-old Stacy Stites. Her body was found off the side of a road about 35 miles (56.32 kilometers) southeast of Austin.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said in its decision that the request by Reed's lawyers was the latest in a series of legal moves "to unreasonably delay the execution of his sentence or the administration of justice." The court said in its 38-page ruling that the attorneys failed to show the additional testing would change the outcome of Reed's trial.

The ruling upheld the findings of a judge in Bastrop County who also denied the DNA request after a hearing in 2014.

"Reed engaged and continues to engage in protracted litigation since his conviction was affirmed in 2000," the appeals court said.

The court also said the timing of the latest request "is even more suspect when we consider that it was filed on the same day the judge heard the state's motion to set an execution date filed three months earlier."

Reed's lead attorney, Bryce Benjet, said the ruling was "deeply flawed" and "flouts the clear intent of the Legislature that comprehensive testing be performed before the government sends a man to his death."

He said it's "puzzling" to him that the court would accuse Reed's lawyers of dragging out the appeals process.

"After the state delayed resolution of our request for months and the appellate court deliberated on the matter for over two years, a finding that Mr. Reed caused delay is simply inconsistent with the record," Benjet said.

He said he now expects to take the request for new DNA testing to the federal courts.

Reed, now 49, was arrested nearly a year after Stites' April 1996 slaying when his DNA surfaced in an unrelated sexual assault. He long has insisted he and Stites had a sexual relationship that was secret and consensual, accounting for his DNA on her body, and that her police officer fiance more likely was her killer.

The fiance later was jailed for abducting a woman in his police custody and having improper sexual activity with her.

The appeals court said the new DNA tests would not corroborate the defense theory of a secret relationship between Reed and Stites.

Reed's lawyers previously have referred to what they describe as the case's racial aspects. Reed is black and Stites was white. There was no reference to race in the latest court ruling.

Source: The Associated Press, Michael Graczyk, April 12, 2017

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