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…

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

Rick Scott, Aramis Ayala
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 breakfast the morning of April 11 and found a woman with a handgun, records show. The woman told Bickford to get on the ground. Bickford told deputies she pulled out a knife and cut his neck, then went through his pockets and took his wallet and cell phone, records show. Bickford said he saw his friend, Ganoe, lying motionless on the hotel room floor.

Bickford managed to crawl out of the room and into the hallway. That’s the last thing he remembered, he told deputies. He was found and rushed to Osceola Regional Medical Center.

Ayala, who took office in January, announced in March that she would not seek the death penalty in any case in Orange or Osceola counties. Over the following months, Gov. Rick Scott signed executive orders taking 29 first-degree cases away from her office and assigning them to State Attorney Brad King of Ocala.

Ayala sued to get the cases back, hiring a Washington, D.C., attorney for $375,273 to argue that she could use her discretion not to seek the death penalty as an independent prosecutor. The Florida Supreme Court sided with Scott in a 5-2 decision, saying the catch-all policy was an example of a lack of prosecutorial discretion.

After the court decision in late August, Ayala said the death penalty was again an option in Orange and Osceola counties. She put together a panel of seven attorneys from her office, who have been reviewing every homicide case assigned to the office since January and deciding whether it would be appropriate and feasible to seek the death penalty.

Ayala is not on the panel herself. Her chief assistant state attorney, Deborah Barra, announced that the review board unanimously decided to seek the death penalty in a case last week but declined to say which case it was.

Mapp’s case was the first in which the panel unanimously decided to seek the death penalty.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, Gal Tziperman Lotan, October 31, 2017

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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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