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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…

Florida Man Exonerated of Murder and Released from Death Row

Ralph Wright Jr.
Ralph Wright Jr. (left)
Ralph Wright Jr. was exonerated and released from Florida’s death row on Tuesday after a circuit court acquitted him of a 2007 double murder.

In May, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove Wright was guilty of the murders and remanded the case back to the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court with instructions that Wright be acquitted.

Wright was convicted in 2014 of the murder of his ex-girlfriend and their 15-month -old son. 

No physical evidence linked Wright to the crime and there was no indication he was in the area at the time. 

Prosecutors said a single glove left at the scene belonged to Wright, but no DNA evidence linked the glove to him.

Wright was found guilty, nonetheless, with the jury voting 7-5 to recommend the death penalty. 

Governor Rick Scott has since signed into law a bill requiring that a jury vote be unanimous in order to recommend the death penalty.

“There is no fingerprint, footprint, blood, fiber pattern impression or other physical evidence tying Wright to the crime scene,” the Florida Supreme Court wrote. “There is no cell tower evidence placing him in the vicinity of the crime scene. There is no murder weapon. The only evidence presented by the state to prove that Wright was the murderer is the fact that he had motive and opportunity. But while motive and opportunity might create a suspicion that Wright committed the murders, even deep suspicions are not sufficient to sustain the convictions.”

Wright is the 27th person to be exonerated from Florida’s death row and the 159th person in the nation to be exonerated from death row since 1973.

“Ralph Wright, Jr.’s exoneration is the most recent reminder that Florida’s death penalty system not only devalues life but also imperils innocent lives too,” Brian Empric with Florida Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty said, according to Florida Politics.

➤ Read the coverage here and here.

Source: Innocence Project, Innocence Staff, July 20, 2017

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