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Showing posts from February, 2018

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Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

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Anthony Ray Hinton was mowing the lawn at his mother's house in 1985 when Alabama police came to arrest him for 2 murders he did not commit. One took place when he was working the night shift at a Birmingham warehouse. Yet the state won a death sentence, based on 2 bullets it falsely claimed matched a gun found at his mother's home. In his powerful new memoir, "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row," Hinton describes how racism and a system stacked against the poor were the driving forces behind his conviction. He also writes about the unique and unexpected bonds that can form on death row, and in particular about his relationship with Henry Hays, a former Klansman sentenced to death for a notorious lynching in 1981. Hays died in the electric chair in 1997 - 1 of 54 people executed in Alabama while Hinton was on death row.
After almost 30 years, Hinton was finally exonerated in 2015, thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. On April 27…

Texas man sentenced to death for killing girlfriend's toddler

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A Hardin County jury on Tuesday handed down the state's 1st death sentence of 2018, deciding a Kountze man convicted of torturing and killing his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter is irredeemable and likely to commit future violent crimes.
The jury deliberated for more than 3 hours before unanimously determining there was no reason Jason Wade Delacerda, 40, should spend his life in prison instead of being executed by lethal injection.
"What mitigates the horror that she lived in? What mitigates the pain she suffered?" District Attorney David Sheffield asked during his closing statements, holding up a picture of Breonna Nichole Loftin, who prosecutors said was abused for weeks before she died.
He asked the jury to think about how they would explain to Breonna their decision not to sentence him to death. "This is a wrong that we cannot turn right for her," he said. "However, we can prevent 1 last death. We can prevent the death of justice for her."

Iranian Criminal Court Sentenced Juvenile Offender to Death on Education Minister and MP's Recommendation

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Case Highlights Violations of Domestic and International Law and Judiciary's Lack of Independence
A young man who was incarcerated at 15 years of age was sentenced to death in Iran upon turning 18 - despite the provincial state medical examiner's report that Mohammad Kalhor was not mentally mature when he allegedly committed murder.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has also learned that the Supreme Court threw out Kalhor's initial 3-year prison sentence and ordered a new trial resulting in a death sentence after a deputy education minister and an influential member of Iran's Parliament asked the court to "look after" the victim's family.
"The case of Mohammad Kalhor is extremely concerning because Iran has yet again issued a death sentence to a person who was convicted as a juvenile in violation of international and UN standards," said Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI's executive director, "It also highlights the Iranian Judiciary's lack…

Iran justice minister expects fewer executions under revised drug law

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Iran's justice minister said on Tuesday a recent reform of its drug laws should lead to fewer executions after the U.N. Secretary General said he remained alarmed about their high number - nearly 500 last year.
As Ali Reza Avai addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council, protesters rallied outside against the senior official who is on European Union and Swiss sanctions lists over alleged involvement in violations including arbitrary arrests and a rise in executions while he was president of the Tehran judiciary.
Avai was a senior judiciary official during the 1980s and the Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group, accuses him of playing a role in the Islamic Republic's execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
Attempts by Reuters to reach the Iranian foreign and justice ministries as well as its diplomatic mission in Geneva for comment were not successful.
About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the United Nations's European headquarters in Gene…

The Cruelty of Executing the Sick and Elderly

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Two controversial cases in Alabama reveal a disturbing trend in the death penalty in America.
Vernon Madison doesn’t know why he’s going to be executed.
The state of Alabama tells him that he fatally shot a police officer in the back and wounded his ex-girlfriend during a domestic dispute in 1985. State courts tossed out his first two convictions in the 1980s before a jury found him guilty for the third time in 1994. Those jurors, who were told of Vernon’s history of mental illness, sentenced him to life imprisonment without parole. The presiding judge then used an esoteric provision of Alabama law to sentence Madison to death instead.
Now 67 years old, the longtime death-row inmate is hardly the same man who was convicted of capital murder almost a quarter-century ago. Multiple strokes have left him with vascular dementia, a severe and degenerative neurological disease that has stripped Madison of his mental functions. He can no longer see, walk independently, or control his bladder.…

Bali: Kerobokan Prison officer arrested on drug couriering charges

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A prison officer from Bali’s notorious Kerobokan prison has been arrested on drug couriering charges.
Identified by initials FR, the officer, originally from North Sumatra, was arrested on Monday afternoon around 12pm in front of the prison.
FR’s arrest stems from an investigation looking into two students arrested by the National Narcotics Agency Bali Province (BNNP) in South Kuta on Saturday.
“Based on information from the two students, they confessed their meth was purchased from an unscrupulous Kerobokan Prison officer,” Radar Bali quoted an unidentified source as saying.
Which led BNNP to FR.
“His movement was suspicious that afternoon. He looked restless and uneasy. When he was about to cross the street, we immediately arrested him,” the source explained.
Upon arrest, several packets of meth ready for circulation along with some ecstasy were found on FR’s person, the source said.
“He was secured when dressed in uniform.”
BNNP Chief Brig. Putu Gede Suastawa confirmed the catch, …

Indonesian Christians whipped over sharia-banned child’s play in Aceh

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Two Indonesian Christians were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province Tuesday for playing a children’s entertainment game seen as violating Islamic law, as hundreds of onlookers ridiculed them and took pictures.
The pair were among five people — including a couple whipped two dozen times each for showing affection in public — who were lashed with a rattan stick.
Aceh is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law and people can be flogged for a range of offences — from gambling, to drinking alcohol to having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.
On Tuesday, Dahlan Silitonga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, were flogged six and seven times respectively after being arrested for playing a long-standing game at a children’s entertainment complex that lets users exchange coins for prizes or vouchers, including cash.
The pair were accused of gambling while another man Ridwan MR got 19 lashes for being involved in the game.
“This is …

This Man Is on Death Row for Killing a 6-Month-Old. But What If We're Wrong About Shaken Baby Syndrome?

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A controversial medical examiner, exaggerated testimony, and bad forensics branded Jeffrey Havard a rapist and a baby killer.
Jeffrey Havard's story began the evening of February 21, 2002, when the Mississippi man was keeping an eye on Chloe, the 6-month-old daughter of his girlfriend, Rebecca Britt. According to Havard, Chloe had spit up on her clothes and bedding, so he gave the girl a bath. As he pulled her up out of the tub, she slipped from his grip and fell. As she fell, her head struck the toilet.
Havard would later say the bump on Chloe's head didn't appear serious, so he dressed her in clean clothes and put her to bed. Not wanting to worry Britt (or perhaps not wanting to anger her), he said nothing about the incident when she returned. When she did get home, Britt checked on the baby, who seemed fine. So she and Havard ate dinner and went about their evening.
Later that night, Chloe stopped breathing. Havard and Britt rushed her to a hospital. She died shortly th…

Supreme Court will hear case of death row inmate with dementia

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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a man sentenced to death for killing an Alabama police officer but who lawyers say now can't remember the 1985 murder.
The court agreed Monday to hear arguments in the case of Vernon Madison.
Madison had been scheduled to be executed in January, but the court stayed the execution to consider whether to take the case. Madison's case will now likely be argued in the fall, and the court's decision to take the case means he is safe from execution at least until the case is decided.
Madison's attorneys argue that strokes and dementia have left Madison unable to understand his execution or remember killing Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte, who had responded to a domestic disturbance call involving Madison. They argue executing someone in such a poor mental condition will violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that condemned inmates must have a "rational understanding&q…

Yemen: Houthis Sentence Baha'i Man to Death

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Drop Charges, End Persecution of Religious Minority
Houthi authorities should drop all charges against a Baha'i man who was sentenced to death on January 2, 2018 because of his religious beliefs, Human Rights Watch said today. The Houthis should unconditionally release Hamed Kamal Haydara and the 6 other Baha'i men who appear to have been detained for practicing their faith.
The Houthis should cease all persecution of the Baha'i religious minority in areas of Yemen under their control, Human Rights Watch said.
The Specialized Criminal Court in Sanaa, Yemen, sentenced Hamed Kamal Haydara, detained since December 2013, to death on January 2, 2018, apparently on account of his religious beliefs and practice of the Baha'i faith.
"Hamed Kamal Haydara's persecution and death sentence are emblematic of the Houthis' broader attack on the Baha'i community," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Rather than continue thes…