Texas: Rodney Reed granted indefinite stay of execution

Stay of execution came just hours after parole board unanimously recommended 120-day reprieve
The Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed was granted a stay of execution on Friday, 5 days before he was scheduled to be put to death for a murder he insists he did not commit.
The Texas court of criminal appeals blocked the execution indefinitely and sent the case back to the trial court in Bastrop county, where Reed was sentenced in 1998 for the murder of Stacey Stites two years earlier.
The court had previously rejected multiple appeals, but Reed’s lawyers argued that fresh evidence bolstered his claim of innocence. 
They said in a statement that they “are extremely relieved and thankful … this opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr Reed’s innocence”.
Millions of people, including a clutch of celebrities, have rallied behind Reed’s cause, helping to generate momentum and public attention as the execution date of 20 November loomed an…

India: Yavatmal court awards death penalty to 7 in human sacrifice case

Additional District and Sessions Judge A S Waghmare on Monday awarded capital punishment to Manoj Atram, Devidas Atram, Yadhavrao Tekam, Punaji Atram, Ramchandra Atram, Motiram Atram and Yashodabai Meshram in the sensational Sapna Palaskar human sacrifice case. 

The convicts are the residents of Choramba village in Ghatanji tehsil and were arrested for 'sacrificing' 7-year-old Sapna Palaskar on October 23, 2012.

All of them were convicted under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, apart from other offences. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 each on them. Durga Shirbhate, another accused, was sentenced to 5 years' rigorous imprisonment for being part of the conspiracy.

According to prosecution, Shirbhate, claiming to be possessed by a goddess, said that 'human blood' was needed to appease the deity and save the clan as well as the village from its wrath.

The accused, a few of them related to Shirbhate, decided to 'sacrifice' Sapna Palaskar (7), a girl living in the same village. Sapna was persuaded to go to the house of Yashodabai Meshram where Ramchandra chopped off her head after a ritual. The head and the body were buried with pooja material outside the house. 1 1/2 months later the girl's remains were exhumed and reburied in another person's field. Later, the bones and skull were exhumed again, and thrown into bushes.

In the meantime, the police had registered a missing person complaint regarding the girl. During the trial, 13 witnesses were examined. The girl's parents -- Sharda and Gopal-- who were also prosecution witnesses, turned hostile.

However, the court relied on DNA test reports which confirmed that the remains recovered by the police were of Sapna, and the statements of other prosecution witnesses.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Adv Shubhangi Darne represented the State.

Source: The Hitavada, August 15, 2017

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