FEATURED POST

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

Image
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…

North Carolina: Man’s mental condition, past cited in capital resentencing

North Carolina's death row
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A survivor from El Salvador’s civil war must be resentenced because North Carolina jurors who decided he should die for his wife’s killing weren’t told to consider evidence relating his conduct to his mental condition, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The justices vacated the death sentence but let stand the 2014 first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping convictions of Juan Carlos Rodriguez of Winston-Salem for the 2010 death of his wife, Maria. Her decapitated body was discovered three weeks after she was last seen alive.

The majority in the 5-2 decision determined that Superior Court Judge Stuart Albright failed during Rodriguez’s sentencing hearing to direct jurors to examine that Rodriguez’s mental limitations and past struggles impaired his ability to fully comprehend his conduct.

Associate Justice Sam Ervin IV, writing the majority opinion, pointed to evidence showing Rodriguez was malnourished and in extreme poverty amid constant violence as a child in war-torn El Salvador in the late 1970s and ’80s. He suffered a mental disorder, according to expert witnesses and had a low IQ and mild intellectual disability.

Jurors had to make a binding recommendation to the judge to sentence Rodriguez to death or to life in prison without parole. Ervin wrote there’s uncertainty whether the judge adding this information to the list of mitigating and aggravating circumstances would have changed a juror’s mind.

Evidence of Rodriguez’s “mental limitations and disturbed and overwrought thinking supports a rational inference that defendant’s ability to fully comprehend the wrongfulness of his conduct and to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law was adversely affected” when the murder occurred, Ervin wrote.

In the dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Mark Martin wrote there was no evidence linking Rodriguez’s “purported intellectual impairment, mental disorders, and marital strife to his homicidal conduct.”

“The majority also ignores the evidence showing that defendant’s actions were carefully premeditated and that he took many steps to conceal his identity as the perpetrator,” which would have prevented jurors from finding the mitigating circumstance occurred, Martin wrote.

The couple had been estranged at the time of Maria Rodriguez’s death. She had entered a domestic violence shelter a month before, writing that her husband had threatened to kill her. She was last seen alive at the couple’s former apartment by her children, who told investigators she had been bloodied by their father. He tossed her body over his shoulder, put her in the vehicle and said he was taking her to the hospital, according to evidence. Her skull was recovered 2½ years after her decapitated body was found, 20 miles away.

Rodriguez’s IQ was estimated several times at below 70, a threshold for significantly impaired intellectual functioning. But accused killers in North Carolina also must show significant inability to adapt to daily life and that their mental disabilities were evident before adulthood.

Rodriguez has been on North Carolina’s death row while awaiting the appeal. While more than 140 people await execution, the state hasn’t carried out capital punishment in more than a decade as various legal challenges have blocked it. Changes in state law have also dramatically lowered the number of murder cases in which local prosecutors seek the death penalty.

Source: The Associated Press, Gary D. Robertson, June 8, 2018


⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!



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

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

California: Convicted killer changes gender while on death row

Alabama: Tuscaloosa County jury recommends death penalty in capital murder case

Bill to abolish Louisiana death penalty coming; California governor halts executions

Eyewitness to execution: The Sacramento Bee’s coverage of 1992 gas chamber execution

PHOTOS: California's Death Chamber Dismantled!

Singapore: Harvesting organs from death row "donors"

Lawyer calls on Singapore to halt Malaysian's Friday execution

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

China: Ethiopian woman awaits capital punishment, draws international attention

D.C. sniper killer to have his sentence reviewed by Supreme Court