FEATURED POST

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Image
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…

Who Is Intellectually Disabled? Supreme Court Orders Alabama To Reconsider Death-Row Case

A month after a ruling against Texas' standards for determining when someone is intellectually disabled — and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty — justices sent a case back to Alabama courts for further review over similar questions.

A US Supreme Court decision from March over Texas' death penalty standards — specifically, how the state determines who is intellectually disabled — could have a ripple effect into another state with one of the country's largest death-row populations.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Alabama courts to reconsider whether the state's process for determining if a person is intellectually disabled, and thus ineligible for the death penalty, is constitutional in the wake of that March ruling.

Nearly 15 years ago, the Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional for states or the federal government to execute intellectually disabled people. In that case — Atkins v. Virginia — and a follow-up case barring states from using a strict cut-off IQ measurement to determine intellectual disability, the court had left open questions about how a state could determine whether a person is intellectually disabled.

This past fall, however, the justices considered whether Texas used appropriate standards in making intellectual disability decisions in death penalty cases. The so-called Briseno factors used by Texas courts — a series of questions addressing adaptive skills — overemphasized a focus on adaptive strengths, the Supreme Court held in March, and were not appropriate.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court's five-justice majority, wrote that the use of the factors "creat[ed] an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed." Even Chief Justice John Roberts, who dissented from the court's ruling along with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, wrote that he "agree[d] with the Court ... that those factors are an unacceptable method of enforcing the guarantee of Atkins."

The court sent Bobby James Moore's case back to the Texas courts to address his sentencing in light of the decision.

While Moore's case was pending before the justices, the lawyer for Taurus Carroll — on death row in Alabama — asked the justices to review Carroll's case on similar grounds. Carrol's lawyer, Benjamin Maxymuk, wrote that if the Supreme Court sided with Moore, Carroll "will be entitled to similar relief from his death sentence."

Alabama balked, writing one day before the decision in Moore's case was handed down that Carroll's case "is distinguishable from Moore because the Alabama courts do not require a consideration of the seven evidentiary factors developed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Ex parte Briseno" — in other words, Alabama did not use the Texas standards.

The justices did not take Alabama's advice. The court granted Carroll's case on Monday, vacated the lower court's judgment, and remanded the case to Alabama's Court of Criminal Appeals "for further consideration in light of Moore v. Texas."

Such a move is not uncommon when the justices issue decisions that have a bearing on similar laws in other states or affect related cases.

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: BuzzFeed News, Chris Geidner, May 3, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Comments

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Iran: Three Hand Amputations, Four Hangings Carried Out in Qom

Iran: Woman Asylum Seeker Lashed 80 Times After Being Deported From Norway

Iran: Three executions carried out, two in front of large crowds

Gambia: President Barrow Signs Abolition Of Death Penalty Treaty

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Texas Child Killer John Battaglia Found Competent for Execution

Two Myanmar migrants make final appeal in Koh Tao murder case

Kenya: Man to hang for stealing toothpaste and toothbrush

Seventeen Hanged in Various Iranian Prisons, One in Public

Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret