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Arizona: Execution witnesses have First Amendment right to hear entire process, 9th Circuit rules

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A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that witnesses to Arizona executions have a First Amendment right to hear the entire execution process to help determine if executions are done “in a humane and lawful manner.”
The ruling comes 5 years after the last execution in Arizona ended up with the condemned inmate, Joseph Wood, gasping for almost two hours and in apparent agony behind soundproof glass.
A 3-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the claim, by seven death-row inmates and the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, that the ability to hear what’s happening in the execution room will foster a heightened level of transparency around the death penalty.

RELATED | Not In My Name
“People might say, ‘That sounds so gory, why do you want to hear what’s happening in there?'” said Morgan Loew, an investigative reporter with CBS 5 in Arizona and the president of the First Amendment Coalition. “What we’re doing is fighting for more access to probably the most …

George Clooney urges boycott of Brunei-owned hotels

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American actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of nine Brunei-owned hotels over the sultanate's imposition of the death penalty for gay sex and adultery.
"Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels, we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery," Clooney wrote on the website Deadline Hollywood.
"I've learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can't shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way," he added.

RELATED Brunei to Punish Adultery and Gay Sex With Death by Stoning
Brunei is an absolute monarchy which has been ruled for 51 years by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
The former British protectorate on Borneo island is surrounded by Malaysia. It has long depended on abundant, but declining, crude re…

Why Did Brett Kavanaugh Change His Mind About the Rights of Religious Minorities in the Execution Chamber?

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Why did the Supreme Court halt Patrick Henry Murphy’s execution and not Domineque Ray’s? On Thursday night, the justices barred Texas from killing Murphy, a Buddhist, because the state refused to let a Buddhist spiritual adviser accompany him in the execution chamber. Yet just last month, a majority of the court let Alabama kill Ray, a Muslim, even though the state would not let his imam accompany him during the lethal injection. At least one conservative justice, Brett Kavanaugh, intervened to help Murphy but let Ray die alone. Why?

RELATED Alabama executes Domineque Ray
Kavanaugh’s explanation for his change of heart—that Murphy brought his claim earlier than Ray—is dubious if not outright wrong. Perhaps, in truth, they feel duly shamed by the bipartisan public backlash to their callous treatment of Ray. Maybe they were stung by Justice Elena Kagan’s fierce dissent in the Ray case. Or maybe a white Buddhist inmate like Murphy is simply more sympathetic to the conservative justices…

Supreme Court blocks execution of Texas 7 lookout

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(Reuters) - An inmate who was part of a murderous band of prison escapees dubbed the “Texas 7” won a reprieve from his death sentence on Thursday as the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the state to allow a Buddhist spiritual adviser to accompany him to the execution chamber.
The 11th-hour stay was granted to Patrick Murphy, 57, convicted for his role in the killing a police officer at a sporting goods store on Christmas Eve in 2000 after escaping from a maximum-security prison days earlier.
The high court rendered its decision more than an hour after Murphy had been scheduled to die by lethal injection at the state’s prison facility in Huntsville.
“As this court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination against religion — in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech — violates the Constitution,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion.
Two of the nine justices - Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch - dissented.
The…

Pennsylvania man gets death penalty for rape, murder of girlfriend's 14-year-old daughter

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A man who killed and dismembered his girlfriend's 14-year-old daughter as part of a rape-murder fantasy he shared with the teenager's mother was sentenced to death on Friday.
Jacob Sullivan, 46, had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and related charges for killing Grace Packer in 2016.
After deliberating over parts of three days, a suburban Philadelphia jury imposed the death penalty. Sullivan had no reaction as the verdict was read. Pennsylvania has a moratorium on the death penalty, but juries can still impose the sentence.
"The butchery in this case was beyond my ability to describe," Bucks County Judge Diane Gibbons told jurors, thanking them for their service.
District Attorney Matthew Weintraub had asked the jury to send Sullivan to death row, reminding them that Grace's life "ended in a house of horrors that became a hell on Earth."
The defence asked for a life sentence, insisting that Grace's mother, Sara Packer, masterminded the grueso…

Texas: On Eve of Execution, Inmate Fights for Buddhist Priest

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HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas death-row inmate who believes chanting prayers with his Buddhist priest as he is executed will help him be reborn in the “Pure Land” has asked the Fifth Circuit for a stay because Texas will not let the priest accompany him in the execution room.
Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr., 57, was serving a 50-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault in December 2000, when he and six other inmates escaped from a prison in Kenedy, Texas.
Now known as the “Texas Seven,” some of the men held up a sporting goods store in Irving, Texas on Dec. 24, 2000.
Irving policeman Aubrey Hawkins pulled up to the store and was met with a hail of gunfire. The escaped convicts shot him 11 times, and then ran over his lifeless body as they fled with 44 stolen guns.
Six of the seven inmates were apprehended the following month after a friend of the owner of an RV park in Colorado saw a spot about them on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted” and told the owner he believed the men were staying on t…

Taiwan mulls death penalty for drunk driving, DUI

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TAIWAN: Taiwan plans to ramp up punishments for those who cause a fatal accident while drink driving, including the death penalty for the most egregious cases, sparking an outcry from abolition and rights groups.
The cabinet on Thursday (Mar 28) approved a draft amendment to the Criminal Code that would make death by drink driving an indictable murder offence, potentially punishable by death if the deed is deemed "intentional", officials said.
The proposal needs parliamentary approval but comes after a spate of high profile deaths that have generated widespread outrage.
Currently the maximum sentence in Taiwan for causing a death while drink behind the wheel is 10 years.
The new proposal would increase jail sentences for repeat offenders who commit a new offence within five years of their first conviction.
They face up to a life sentence for causing a death and 12 years for grave injuries.
"Cases of drunk driving leading to death are rampant ... drink drivers recklessl…

Texas: Patrick Murphy set to be executed tonite under infamous Law of Parties

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HUNTSVILLE Texas — A member of the "Texas 7" gang of escaped prisoners who's scheduled to be executed Thursday evening should be spared because he didn't fatally shoot a suburban Dallas police officer during a Christmas Eve robbery more than 18 years ago, according to his attorneys.
Patrick Murphy, 57, is slated to receive lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was among the inmates who escaped from a South Texas prison in December 2000 and then committed numerous robberies, including the one in which they shot 29-year-old Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins 11 times, killing him.
Hawkins, who had been with the Irving police force about 14 months, had just finished Christmas Eve dinner with his family when he responded to the call about the robbery at a sporting goods store and was ambushed.
The escaped inmates were arrested a month later in Colorado, ending a six-week manhunt. One of them killed himself as officers closed in and the other six…

India: Court sentences man to death for raping, murdering minor girl

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A city court Thursday sentenced a man to death for the rape and murder of a two-and-a-half- year-old girl in the city in 2013. 
Terming the crime committed by Suresh Paswan as "rarest of rare" incident, chief judge of City Sessions Court Siddhartha Kanjilal sentenced him to death by hanging.
The court found Paswan guilty of abduction, murder and rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. 
According to the prosecution, Paswan picked up the child from in front of the shanty she lived in under a flyover at Hastings area near Kidderpore on the night of July 21, 2013.
An attender of horses at the nearby race course, Paswan was then around 40-years-old. 
The girl's grandmother, with whom she resided since her mother was mentally ill and the father had deserted them, started searching for her.
Some children, who lived nearby, found the girl the next morning in a gutter near the race course. 
The victim was taken to the state-run SSKM Hospital, wher…

James Alex Fields pleads guilty in 2017 Charlottesville car attack, escapes death penalty

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — In a case that stirred racial tensions across the country, a self-avowed white supremacist pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal hate crime charges in a deadly attack at a white nationalist rally in Virginia, admitting that he intentionally plowed his speeding car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens.
James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, pleaded guilty to 29 of 30 federal charges stemming from the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017.
Under a plea agreement, federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Fields and will dismiss the one count that carried death as a possible punishment. The charges he pleaded guilty to call for life in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
Fields appeared stoic, with his hands folded in front of him for much of the hearing. He repeatedly responded “yes, sir,” when U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski asked him if he was pleading guilty knowingl…