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Showing posts from August, 2017

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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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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…

Duterte: Prisoners are "monsters that can't be rehabilitated"

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In a speech yesterday, President Rodrigo Duterte compared prisoners to “monsters,” in an effort to reiterate his position against restorative justice.
“Those western countries believe in the positivism. You can make useful human beings out of him when he gets out. It has been debunked as negative,” he told a crowd yesterday at the 23rd anniversary of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“I know this. I was a prosecutor for nine years. My cases were like that,” he said.
Before being appointed mayor of Davao City in 1987 after the People Power Revolution toppled the Marcos Dictatorship, Duterte worked as a prosecutor for the Philippine government.
“No matter what kind of skills you [TESDA] give them, they are always looking for trouble,” Duterte said.
“They will hold up again, and they won’t mind going back to prison,” he added.
Going to prison turns you gay
He also mentioned — without explaining how it’s related to the justice system — that prisoners lose t…

The Unlikely Exoneration of Henry McCollum

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Of all the men and women on death row in North Carolina, Henry McCollum’s guilty verdict looked airtight. He had signed a confession full of grisly details. 
Written in crude and unapologetic language, it told the story of four boys, he among them, raping and suffocating 11-year-old Sabrina Buie. His younger brother, Leon Brown, also admitted involvement in the crime. Both were sentenced to death in 1984.
Leon was later resentenced to life in prison. But Henry remained on death row for 30 years and became Exhibit A in the defense of the death penalty. 
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia pointed to the brutality of Henry’s crime as a reason to continue capital punishment nationwide. 
During North Carolina legislative elections in 2010, Henry’s face showed up on political flyers, the example of a brutal rapist and child killer who deserved to be executed.
What almost no one saw — not even his top-notch defense attorneys — was that Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were innocent. In …

Florida Supreme Court Rules Against State Attorney Aramis Ayala on Death Penalty Cases

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Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced she has organized a death penalty review panel to look at first-degree murder cases after the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Gov. Rick Scott has the authority to take death penalty cases away from her.
“With implementation of this Panel, it is my expectation that going forward all first-degree murder cases that occur in my jurisdiction will remain in my office and be evaluated and prosecuted accordingly," Ayala said in a statement.
Ayala announced in March that she will not seek the death penalty in any case. Supreme Court Justice C. Alan Lawson cited the catch-all policy in an opinion released Thursday (pdf), declining to give Ayala's office 29 death penalty cases that Scott assigned to another prosecutor using executive orders.
Ayala did not immediately say who the seven prosecutors will be, or if the death penalty will be a possibility they consider.
“Far from being unreasoned or arbitrary ... the reassignmen…

Louisiana: Rushing toward a death sentence

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It took 15 years to overturn Calvin Burdine's death sentence, but at last, in 2001, the federal appeals court in New Orleans accepted a defendant's right to an attorney who remains awake at trial.
It now seems odd that there should ever have been any doubt that a sleeping attorney cannot provide the effective counsel guaranteed by the Constitution.
But at least there was always a chance that Burdine's attorney, Joe Cannon, would suddenly open his eyes and shout "Objection!" When Kevin Daigle goes on trial for his life, however, he knows there is no chance his attorney, David Price, will participate in proceedings.
After Price died last month, Daigle sought more time to prepare for trial, but prosecutors objected and state Judge Guy Bradberry ordered that it take place as scheduled Sept. 18.
Daigle, of Lake Charles, is accused of murdering state trooper Steven Vincent 2 years ago. Daigle, then 54, allegedly opened fired when his truck got stuck in a ditch and Vin…

New Zealand court upholds government's decision to extradite man to China

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A New Zealand court on Thursday rejected an appeal from a man challenging the government's decision to extradite him to China in the 1st case of its kind for the Pacific nation.
New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams had twice ordered that South Korean-born New Zealand resident Kyung Yup Kim could be sent to China to face murder charges, and both times Kim had appealed against the decision in the High Court.
Kim has denied the murder accusation, according to court documents.
Judge Jillian Mallon, who had accepted Kim's first appeal last year, said that when Adams reconsidered she had sought extra information that allowed her to conclude Kim's rights would be protected in China.
A lawyer for Kim told the High Court in April that New Zealand's government could not rely on assurances from China that the man would not be tortured or receive the death penalty.
New Zealand agreed in December 2015 to extradite Kim to Shanghai on murder charges after the body of a 20-year-old…

Canada: Wilbert Coffin's son wants to clear father's name, 60 years after his execution

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Wilbert Coffin (October 1915 - 10 February 1956) was a Canadian prospector who was convicted of murder and executed in Canada.

On 15 July 1953, the remains of Eugene Lindsey were found in the Gaspé region of Quebec a month after his disappearance. On 23 July 1953, the bodies of Lindsey's 17-year-old son Richard and 20-year-old Frederick Claar were also found, 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) away. The three men had last been seen going into the woods to hunt. Coffin was accused of ambushing the three men and stealing more than 600 dollars. Coffin denied committing the murders, but admitting to stealing some of the men's luggage.

Coffin went through seven reprieves after his conviction where he was denied clemency by the Quebec Court of Appeals, the Canadian Supreme Court and the Prime Minister. On 10 February 1956, Coffin mounted the gallows. He was refused his final wish of marrying Marion Petrie, his partner and mother of his 8-year-old son James. Coffin always claimed he was innoce…

Russian woman, 30, faces execution for smuggling 3kg of cocaine into Vietnam

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A 30-year-old Russian woman accused of being a cocaine mule faces the death penalty in Vietnam.
But Maria Dapirka, who has already written a 'farewell letter' to her mother, claims she was set up by her lover who posed as a top footballer.
Her lawyers have said she has accepted she may soon be executed, but still clings on to some hope she will be freed after three years in prison.
Dapirka, who lived in Thailand when she met her lover, known as Nick, was caught with almost 3kg of cocaine by Vietnamese customs on a flight from Singapore
She said the cocaine was planted in her luggage by Nick - or 'Chib Eze' - who apparently has a penchant for seducing attractive young women before conning them into carrying drugs.
Dapirka's verdict and sentence was due to be handed down by a Vietnamese judge today in a Ho Chi Minh city court but the session was postponed 'for further investigation' for the fifth time.
In a letter to her mother Olga, a desperate Dapirka said…

Iran: At Least Two Prisoners Hanged on Drug Charges

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Iran Human Rights (AUG 29 2017): At least two prisoners were reportedly hanged at Ardabil Central Prison on drug related charges.
According to close sources, the executions of "Fardin Hosseini" and "Massoud Vaizadeh" were carried out on the morning of Wednesday August 30.
Fardin and Massoud were reportedly held in prison for more than four years before they were executed. The two men were reportedly convicted in the same file and sentenced to death each for the charge of manufacturing three kilograms of crystal meth. "Fardin was a chemical engineer and had no previous criminal record," an informed source tells Iran Human Rights.
The execution of prisoners with drug related charges continues in Iran at the same time that the Iranian Parliament has approved a bill to stop drug related executions. The bill must be approved by Iran's Guardian Council before it can be passed.
Sunni Prisoner Hanged on Moharebeh Charges
Iran Human Rights (AUG 30 2017): Su…

Texas death row inmate gets execution reprieve because of Hurricane Harvey

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- A 36-year-old condemned Texas inmate scheduled for execution next week has won a temporary reprieve because of Hurricane Harvey.
Hurricane Harvey brought record rainfall to Houston and flash floods all over East Texas.
Since landfall, rainfall amounts have totaled between 15 and 48 inches around the city, according to the National Weather Service.
The severe weather has the possibility of lasting through early to mid next week. 
Emergency responders in Houston have now rescued more than 7,000 people.
Bexar County prosecutors cited "extraordinary circumstances" in asking a state judge to move Juan Castillo's execution to Dec. 14 because some of his legal team is based in Harris County.
Gov. Greg Abbott has designated the county a disaster area along with dozens of other Texas counties hit by the storm.
State District Judge Jefferson Moore signed the order Wednesday agreeing to move the date.
Castillo had been scheduled for lethal injection Sept. 7 i…

Execution Date Set For Two Alabama Death Row Inmates

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The Alabama Supreme Court has set execution dates for two death row inmates.
Jeffrey Lynn Borden is set to die by lethal injection on Oct. 5.
Borden was convicted of killing his estranged wife, Cheryl Borden, and her father, Roland Harris, during a Christmas Eve gathering in Jefferson County in 1993.
Torrey Twane McNabb is scheduled to be executed on Oct. 19.
McNabb was convicted of killing Montgomery police officer Anderson Gordon in 1997.
Court records show that juries recommended the death sentence by a 10-2 vote in each case and judges agreed.
The state attorney general’s office asked the court to set execution dates for both men earlier this month.
Alabama has executed two death row inmates so far in 2017.
Source: The Associated Press, August 30, 2017


Alabama sets execution dates for 2 inmates; both set to die in October
The Alabama Supreme Court has scheduled October execution dates for 2 death row inmates.
Jeffrey Borden is set to be executed on Octo…