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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Japan: Peruvian man sentenced to death for 6 murders in Saitama

Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
SAITAMA - A Peruvian man accused of killing six people, including two girls, in their homes in Saitama Prefecture in 2015 was sentenced to death Friday by a Japanese court.

The Saitama District Court handed down the capital sentence to 32-year-old Vayron Jonathan Nakada Ludena, concluding that he can be held liable for his crimes. His defense counsel, who had argued the defendant has schizophrenia and was not mentally competent to be held responsible for his conduct, appealed the ruling.

Nakada Ludena was charged with murder-robbery. The sentence, reached by a panel of professional and lay judges, was in line with prosecutors' request, while his lawyers had sought his acquittal.

"The consequence of claiming the lives of six innocent people is grave and they were cruel crimes," Presiding Judge Naoto Sasaki said in the ruling.

Citing Nakada Ludena's efforts to hide the bodies and wipe away blood at the crime scenes, the judge said the defendant "knew" that his actions were criminal.

According to the ruling, Nakada Ludena broke into three homes in the city of Kumagaya, north of Tokyo, from Sept 14 to 16 in 2015 to steal money and valuable items.

He stabbed to death a couple in their 50s, an 84-year-old woman, and a 41-year-old woman and her 10-year-old and 7-year-old daughters in their respective homes, and stole a car and 9,000 yen in cash.

Nakada Ludena was arrested the following month in connection with the couple's deaths, having been hospitalized after plunging from a second-floor window at the third home on Sept 16. Police subsequently served him with further arrest warrants relating to the other victims.

His lawyers had argued he acted under the overwhelming influence of a mental illness.

The prosecutors had admitted the defendant was becoming paranoid at the time of the crimes but insisted he was competent to judge between right and wrong.

Nakada Ludena remained looking down for over two and a half hours while the ruling was read out through an interpreter.

"It is clear that the defendant knew he was taking dangerous actions that could claim people's lives," the ruling said.

A 45-year-old man whose wife and two daughters were killed by Nakada Ludena asked the lay judges at the trial in February, "What would you think if all of your family were killed one day and you are suddenly left alone?"

On Friday morning, around 500 people queued up in front of the court to get a ticket for 24 seats provided to observe the high-profile case.

Source: Japan Times, March 9, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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