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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…

US court grants hearing to Brit held for 30 years

Krishna ‘Kris’ Maharaj
Krishna ‘Kris’ Maharaj
A British man who was wrongly sentenced to death in 1987 will be allowed a fresh hearing, based on evidence of his innocence, a US appeals court has ruled.

Kris Maharaj, 78, has always maintained his innocence after he was sentenced to death over the 1986 murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young in a Miami hotel room. He has been held for over 30 years, and had his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment in 2002. 

Mr Maharaj’s lawyer at the human rights organization Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith, has presented new evidence from people linked to Colombian drug cartels, who have conceded that they – not Mr Maharaj – committed the crime.

The new ruling from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta says: “Mr. Maharaj has made a prima facie showing that his new evidence, when viewed in light of the evidence as a whole, would demonstrate that he could not have been found guilty of the Moo Young murders beyond a reasonable doubt because if a hit man for the cartel committed the murders, Mr. Maharaj did not.”

The judgment said that the additional witnesses had presented “compelling” accounts that “independently corroborate one another's […] All five individuals' stories reflect that the Moo Youngs were killed by the cartel.”

The case will now move back to Miami for a federal hearing before a single judge, who will consider the new evidence.

As part of the proceedings, Mr Maharaj’s lawyers will also be able to access previously unexamined evidence showing that Jaime Vallejo Mejia – a guest in the hotel on the night of the murders – was a Colombian cartel operative. 

Clive Stafford Smith, founder of Reprieve and pro bono lawyer for Kris Maharaj for 24 years, said: “We still have a long way to go, as we need to force disclosure of the rest of the evidence the government has held all these years. But it is a great day for Kris, and I hope now we will finally get him the justice he has long been denied.”

Marita Maharaj, 77, Kris’ wife: “At last perhaps everyone will see the truth. Kris will be thrilled. He has been unwell, but this will finally give him hope.”

Further detail on Kris Maharaj’s case is available at the Reprieve website, here.

Source: Reprieve, April 4, 2017

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