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Showing posts from October, 2017

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Tennessee execution: Billy Ray Irick tortured to death, expert says in new filing

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Editor's note: Reporter Dave Boucher was one of seven state-required media witnesses at Irick's execution. 
Billy Ray Irick felt searing pain akin to torture before he died in a Tennessee prison in August, but steps taken in carrying out his execution blocked signs of suffering, according to a doctor who reviewed information about the lethal injection.
In new court filings entered late Thursday amidst an ongoing legal challenge of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol, Dr. David Lubarsky said statements from people who witnessed the execution indicated the controversial drug midazolam failed to ensure Irick could not feel pain during his death.
As a result, the death row inmate “experienced the feeling of choking, drowning in his own fluids, suffocating, being buried alive, and the burning sensation caused by the injection of the potassium chloride,” Lubarsky wrote in the filing.
The document also says the state did not follow its own lethal injection protocol, raising questio…

Aramis Ayala's office to seek death penalty against woman accused in Osceola hotel stabbing

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Prosecutors in Osceola County will seek the death penalty against a woman accused of stabbing and killing a man at an Osceola County hotel — the first time Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala's office will do so since she took office earlier this year.
Emerita Mapp, 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Zackery Ganoe, 20. She is also charged with attempted murder of another man in the hotel room, robbery, evidence tampering and possession of a stolen credit card. A notice to seek the death penalty was filed with the Osceola County clerk of courts Tuesday.
Ganoe was found dead at the Days Inn on Polynesian Boulevard the morning of April 11, court records show. Another man was found outside the room with serious injuries.
“This was a violent and horrific crime. Two young men were attacked viciously, one losing his life,” Osceola County sheriff’s spokesman Jacob Ruiz said at the time.
The man who survived, Andrew Bickford, told deputies that he came back from…

Nevada Gov. Sandoval, stop Dozier's execution: Viloria

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As a prosecutor with the original Major Violators Unit of the Washoe County District Attorney's office, I sought the death penalty in 5 1st-degree murder cases. I have great respect for the rule of law.
I am disturbed that the State of Nevada is about to resume executions after an 11-year hiatus.
Much has changed since the last execution was conducted in April 2006. The drugs historically used in lethal injection are no longer available due to manufacturers' unwillingness to have their products used in executions. A dozen states have repealed their death penalty laws or imposed moratoria on pursuing new death sentences. Most states are not using the death penalty even if it is still in their laws.
Yet on Nov. 14, the State of Nevada is planning to put Scott Dozier to death, based on his wish to die.
I am especially appalled to read the state intends to use a combination of drugs on Mr. Dozier that has never before been used in an execution. Under these experimental circumstan…

Ohio: Doctor approves of ill inmate sitting up during execution

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Allowing a condemned killer with health problems to partially sit up during his execution next month would be a "reasonable" accommodation, according to a doctor working for Ohio's prison system.
Death row inmate Alva Campbell became mildly agitated when officials tried lowering him to a normal execution position in an Oct. 19 test, according to a medical review by Dr. James McWeeney, a contractor for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
McWeeney noted there were no objective findings such as increased pulse rate or breathing to corroborate Campbell's anxiety.
"Nevertheless, given the events observed at this examination and the patient's underlying pulmonary and mental health disorders, it would be reasonable to make an accommodation for the patient during the execution process that would permit him to lay in a semi-recumbent position," the doctor wrote.
McWeeney also said he couldn't find veins suitable for inserting an IV on either of…

Haitian-American sentenced to death in Florida

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Friday in Florida, Haitian-American Mesac Damas (41) was sentenced to death by Collier County Judge Christine Greider for killing his wife and five children in September 2009. 
He was sentenced after pleading guilty to 6 counts of 1st degree murder, waived his right to a jury and also waived his right to have his lawyers present mitigating evidence in his favor. 
Judge Greider told the court, "Because death is a unique punishment in its finality, its application is reserved only for those cases where only the most aggravating and least mitigating circumstances exist." Note that the Mesac Damascus affair had been dragging on for almost 8 years, marked by numerous appeals by his lawyers to avoid the death penalty.
"I love my people, my wife and children. But this thing happened [...] I wish I had an answer for it, but I don't," said Damascus in court "From now on, I'm just going to put my trust in him, and say sorry to the whole world."
Let's re…

China to further reduce the number of crimes under the death penalty

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China will continue to remove the number of crimes under the death penalty in the future, Chinese experts said, ahead of a new round of reviews of the draft Criminal Law.
The 12th Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) began a 6-day meeting on Monday, during which it will review amendments to the Criminal Law, China News Service reported on Monday.
The report said the Criminal Law has been amended several times since 1997, and major amendments include imposing the death penalty on fewer crimes.
"The amendments to the Criminal Law should adapt to society. China has been removing the number of crimes under the death penalty and will continue to do so," Ruan Qilin, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Monday.
However, not as many crimes will likely be removed under the death penalty this time since amendments were made just two years ago, Ruan said.
In 2015, China's amendments to the Criminal Law …

Iran: 3 Executions on Murder Charges

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2 prisoners were hanged at Mashhad Central Prison and 1 at Zahedan Central prison, all on murder charges.
Executions in Mashhad
According to a report by Khorasan Newspaper, on the morning of Tuesday October 24, 1 prisoner was executed at Mashhad Central Prison on murder charges. 
The prisoner, identified as Majid M., was arrested in February 2007 and sentenced to death on the charge of murdering a taxi driver under a robbery.
Another prisoner was executed at the same prison on murder charges on the morning of Thursday October 26. 
The prisoner, identified as Hossein S., was charged with murdering a shepherd with intent to steal his livestock in January 2014, when he was 22.
Execution in Zahedan
According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), on the morning of Sunday October 29, a prisoner was executed at Zahedan Central prison on murder charges. 
The prisoner, identified as Majid Ramroudy, 25, had been held in prison for nearly 5 years.
The execution of Majid Ramroudy has …

Singapore: Six abolitionist groups respond to Minister K. Shanmugam's comments on death penalty

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SINGAPORE - Six abolitionist groups, who have spoken up against the death penalty in Singapore, have jointly responded to comments made by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam at last week's Asia Pacific Forum Against Drugs.
The statement, which was posted on Facebook on Monday (Oct 30), said that Mr Shanmugam had made "misleading claims" about abolitionists at the forum on Oct 26.
This includes the suggestion that the groups are calling for the legalisation of drugs.
"There is a range of opinions and perspectives on the issue of drug policy among members of the abolitionist campaign," said the statement.
However, the groups agree that the problem of drugs, which is on the rise, "is of concern and should be addressed in holistic ways".
Thus, they have called on the Government to make all data related to the use of the death penalty - as well as studies and evidence behind the minister's claims - accessible to the public.
Among the claims hi…

4 Texas death row inmates lose appeals at US Supreme Court

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HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review the appeals of four condemned inmates in Texas, including a woman on death row for the 2010 slaying of her developmentally disabled baby sitter.
Kimberly Cargill, of Whitehouse in East Texas, is one of six women on death row in Texas, which is the most active capital-punishment state in the U.S. and has executed six prisoners so far this year. Cargill, 50, was convicted in 2012 in Smith County.
The high court also refused to review the appeals of Raul Cortez, 36, sentenced to die for a 2004 quadruple fatal shooting in the Dallas suburb of McKinney; Rosendo Rodriguez III, 37, convicted of the 2005 slaying of a pregnant Lubbock woman; and Damon Matthews, 32, on death row for the 2003 Houston killing of a friend whose car was stolen during the crime.
The court did not comment on its reasons for refusing the appeals. None of the four prisoners has an execution date.
Cargill was convicted and put on death row for causing th…

South African law saves the neck of Botswana man

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The South African constitution, which outlaws the death sentence, has saved a Botswana citizen from possibly hanging if convicted of a murder charge in his country.
Keitekile Jampe, with the help of Lawyers for Human Rights, turned to the high court in Pretoria for an urgent order that he be released from the Lindela Repatriation Camp in Krugersdorp, where he has been detained for more than 430 days pending extradition to Botswana.
But Jampe said that if he goes back to his country of origin, he might be hanged. The Botswana police are looking for him in connection with a charge of murder.
The parties settled the matter in terms of which Home Affairs agreed not to deport him unless the Botswana government gave an assurance that he would not receive the death penalty if he returned.
Judge Lettie Molopa-Sethosa also ordered that he be released from Lindela. Jampe has to report to the director-general of Home Affairs to secure his lawful stay in South Africa in terms of the immigration r…

Supreme Court considers: When are defendants entitled to experts in death penalty cases?

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The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Monday on a death penalty case that hasn’t attracted much attention, but could bring important new focus to the standard of whether experts must be appointed to the defense in capital punishment cases.
For 15 months, the lawyers appointed to represent Carlos Manual Ayestas in a 1997 Texas death penalty case did not investigate the facts to prepare for the trial.
Ayestas, an immigrant charged with the murder of a 67-year-old woman, told his lawyers about his background, which included multiple head traumas, regular cocaine and alcohol use, and mental health issues. Neither his trial lawyers, nor the investigator they hired, looked into any of this or even asked for a basic mental health exam. Furthermore, Ayestas’ lawyers presented no witnesses at trial.
It took the jury just 12 minutes to decide he should die for committing the murder.
It’s easy to sentence someone to death if the defense lawyer doesn’t tell jurors what kind of pers…