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Showing posts from April, 2019

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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.

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“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 …

Chinese court sentences Canadian drug trafficker to death six years after his trial

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A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian to death for drug offences on Tuesday.
The two main accused in the case – the Canadian identified by the Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court in Jiangmen, Guangdong province, as Fan Wei, and an individual named Wu Ziping, whose nationality was not specified – were both given death sentences.
An American identified as Mark, and Mexican nationals named in court translations as Leon, Pedro, Oscar and Carrett were given suspended death sentences and jailed for life, according to an online court statement.
The prison terms of four other defendants – Zeng Xiangliang, Li Rongfu, Liao Jianming and Liu Zhimin – were not specified.
The group were found guilty of setting up a drug factory in Taishan, where they produced more than 63kg (140lb) of methamphetamine and 365.9 grams of dimethylamphetamine between July and November 2012.
The court notice said the convicted could appeal against the sentence, adding that consular officials were present during the cour…

The Death Chamber Next Door

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“It was as though a small part of me died with each execution.”
Serving a prison sentence is difficult in and of itself. The deplorable living conditions, the separation from loved ones, the brutality—you know about all of this.
But do you know what it’s like to serve your time at a prison where executions are occurring? That was my reality when I was incarcerated at the Huntsville Unit, where the state of Texas housed the busiest death chamber in the country.
One particular morning, I rolled out of my bunk to images of Robert James Campbell flashing across my T.V. screen. Campbell was the next person scheduled to be executed there, by way of some unknown prison worker shooting poison into his veins—in a room located a short walk from my cell.
Suddenly, I became convinced that a foul odor had begun to seep into my living space. The electric chair had been replaced by lethal injection decades ago, but I was almost certain the smell was that of burnt flesh. I looked at my clock, and it …

Trial for murder of Scandinavian hikers to open in Morocco

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Petitions on the internet have called for anyone convicted of the Scandinavian hikers' double murder to face the death penalty. Death sentences are sometimes still handed down in Morocco, but a de facto moratorium on carrying out executions has been in place since 1993, and there is an ongoing debate over potential abolition.
Rabat (AFP) -- Two dozen suspects are set to go on trial in Morocco Thursday for offences linked to the gruesome murder of two young Scandinavian hikers late last year that shocked the North African country.
Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland had their throats slit before they were beheaded in December at an isolated site in the High Atlas mountains.
Three main defendants accused of direct involvement in the murders and who allegedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group could theoretically face the death penalty.
A total of 24 defendants are due to appear before a criminal court in Sale to …

Indonesia demands 20 years for French drug smuggler

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Mataram (Indonesia) (AFP) -- Indonesian prosecutors Monday demanded a 20-year jail term for a French man accused of drug trafficking, a crime punishable by execution under the country's tough smuggling laws.
Felix Dorfin was arrested in September carrying a false-bottomed suitcase filled with four kilogrammes (8.8 pounds) of cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines at the airport in Lombok, a holiday island next to Bali, authorities said.
Lead prosecutor Ginung Pratidina told a court in Lombok Monday that Dorfin, 35, had been "legally and convincingly" proven guilty.
But he asked for a 20-year prison sentence and that Dorfin pay a whopping 10 billion rupiah ($700,000) fine or serve an additional year in jail.
Indonesian courts have been known to go beyond prosecutors' demands, so Dorfin could still be at risk of execution by firing squad if convicted.
A date for the verdict has not been set.
The accused drug trafficker looked down and shook his head as he listened to the s…

Buddhist Inmate Ready To Die As Court Considers Limits Of Religious Freedom In Texas

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When the state of Texas tried to execute Patrick Murphy on March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in. The high court ruled that the execution was unconstitutional. But it wasn't because of any concerns about due process or the morality of the state taking a life. The issue was religious freedom.
On the day of the execution, Murphy said he was ready to die.
“Because ... when I went into the death house, I was fully prepared for death. Okay. I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepared to die.”
Murphy was sent to death row for his role in the Texas Seven escape. In 2000, the group of Texas inmates managed to slip out of a maximum state prison. While on the run they committed numerous robberies, and on Christmas Eve they killed Irving Police Officer Aubry Hawkins as they stole guns from a sporting goods store. Murphy said he did not participate in the killing of Hawkins. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to die.
But when the appointed hour of his execution came and went, he w…

Houston state senator demands end to written final statements for death row inmates

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A Democratic state senator from Houston is demanding a change to the Texas prison system's execution-day procedures, arguing that allowing a spokesman to read aloud a condemned killer's written statement after his or her death is "disrespectful" to victims' families.
Prompted by last week's execution of white supremacist John King - one of the men sentenced to die for the notorious hate crime slaying of James Byrd Jr. in 1998 - state Sen. John Whitmire on Monday called on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to stop allowing prisoners to leave behind written statements after they are put to death.
"Once they're executed that should be the end," Whitmire told the Houston Chronicle. "If they want to write something, I would suggest that TDCJ throw it in the trash with all his other belongings."
Traditionally, death row prisoners are permitted to say their last words in a microphone inside the death chamber, and also provide a writte…

Wall Street banks boycott Brunei-owned hotels after kingdom makes homosexuality punishable by death

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A growing list of multinational banks are banning employees from staying at hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei, where homosexuality and adultery is punishable by death.
J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and others — called to task by celebrities such as Elton John, George Clooney and Ellen DeGeneres — have barred staff from staying at properties owned by the Dorchester Collection hotel group, run by the Brunei state-owned investment agency.  The ban includes luxury names such as Los Angeles’ Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, and London’s Dorchester and 45 Park Lane.
The news was first reported by the Financial Times. A spokesperson for J.P. Morgan confirmed the report to CNBC but declined to comment further.
Deutsche Bankannounced its boycott of Brunei-owned properties in early April as a sign of support for LGBTQ rights. Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have confirmed to CNBC that they are no longer using the Dorchester Group. CitiGroup, Jefferies, Morgan Stanley and Nomura have also…

Georgia: Jury at impasse over death sentence for Gwinnett woman in starving death

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Tiffany Moss convicted of murdering stepdaughter
It will likely go down as one of the least-surprising verdicts in the history of Georgia jurisprudence.
After deliberating just short of three hours, a Gwinnett County jury on Monday found Tiffany Moss guilty of murdering her stepdaughter Emani, starving the 10-year-old and then trying to burn her emaciated body. Moss, who took the unusual step of representing herself in a capital case, mounted no defense. She didn’t ask a single question of the witnesses who testified against her and offered no opening statement or closing argument. 
Upon hearing the guilty verdicts — for murder, felony murder, cruelty to children and trying to conceal death — Moss showed no emotion. But the jury of six men and six women appear conflicted over whether Moss, 36, should be sentenced to die. 
At day’s end, they sent Superior Court Judge George Hutchinson a note saying they were at an impasse and wanted to go home “and sleep on it.” He granted the request …

ISIS leader Baghdadi, who was rumored to be dead, appears in video and admits defeat in Syria

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The elusive leader-at-large of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has appeared in a new clip released by the jihadi organization, appearing to disprove long-standing rumors about his death or failing health.
In a roughly 18-minute video released by the ISIS-affiliated Al-Furqan media outlet, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could be seen seated on a mattress in front of a plain white background and beside an Kalashnikov-style assault rifle. Speaking to followers whose faces are obscured, Baghdadi proclaims that "the battle of Islam and its people against the cross and its people is a long battle," but concedes his group's loss against a U.S.-led coalition and mostly Kurdish allies in a small town in Syria's far east.
"The battle of Baghouz is finished, but it demonstrated the barbarity and savagery of the crusader community towards the Muslim community," said Baghdadi, adding that "at the same time" the battle proved the "courage" and "re…