Showing posts from August, 2019


USA | Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a terrible opportunity for Trump

"Sometimes it felt like she was America’s last hope. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court judge since 1993, achieved celebrity status during Trump’s four years. Affectionately given the nickname “Notorious R.B.G” by a slew of online followers, she was the subject of superhero memes and the inspiration for much light-hearted merchandise (Urban Outfitters stocks T-shirts emblazoned with her face and her famously blunt quotes, and I gifted a friend in Brooklyn a cuddly Ginsburg doll for her newborn last year.)
Beneath the jokes, the quotes and the well-designed tote bags, however, ran an undercurrent of anxiety and fear. The fact that Supreme Court judges have lifetime appointments meant that many were morbidly obsessed with Ginsburg — who battled cancer on numerous occasions, and died of its complications today — staying alive long enough to get to the election. She herself clearly felt the same way, if NPR’s reports about her dying wishes are to be believed: “My most fervent wish is …

California: Pedirán pena de muerte para acusados en muerte de Anthony Avalos

La madre y su novio enfrentan cargos de asesinato por tortura del niño de 10 años.
LOS ÁNGELES — La fiscalía anunció este miércoles que se buscará la pena de muerte contra una mujer de Lancaster y su novio, acusados del asesinato por tortura de su hijo de 10 años. 
Heather Barron, de 29 años, y Kareem Leiva, de 33, siguen encarcelados sin derecho a fianza en relación con la muerte del 21 de junio de 2018 de su hijo, Anthony Avalos. 
Los fiscales alegan que Anthony fue torturado gravemente durante los últimos cinco o seis días de su vida por su madre y Leiva. El presunto abuso incluyó azotar al niño con un cinturón y una cuerda enrollada, verterle salsa picante en la cara y la boca, sujetarlo por los pies y dejarlo caer sobre su cabeza repetidamente, según una presentación de la corte de la fiscalía. 
A principios de este mes, los familiares del joven anunciaron una demanda contra el condado de Los Ángeles, acusando al condado y a varios trabajadores sociales de no responder adecuadame…

Editorial: In a civilized society, not even the most vicious crimes justify a death sentence

It is soul-bruising to contemplate the torture that 10-year-old Anthony Avalos endured in his Lancaster home for more than a week before dying last year. Whippings with a looped cord and belt. Repeatedly held upside down then dropped on his head. Getting slammed into pieces of furniture and against the floor. Hot sauce poured on his face and mouth.
The road map of the abuse stretched from head to toe on his small malnourished body — bruises, abrasions, scabs and cuts visible on the outside. Traumatic brain injury and soft tissue damage on the inside. All allegedly perpetrated by his mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva.
RELATED | California: Prosecutors seeking death penalty in Anthony Avalos torture case
If ever a set of circumstances called for the death penalty, this would be it. Few were surprised when Los Angeles County prosecutors said Wednesday that if the couple is convicted of the torture-murder, the jury will be asked to recommend a death sentence.
Such ca…

DPIC Analysis: 13 Texas Death Warrants Raise Troubling Questions About U.S. Execution Practices

"The circumstances in which the warrants were issued raises troubling questions as to whether the state is executing the most morally culpable individuals for the worst of the worst crimes or the most vulnerable prisoners and prisoners who were provided the worst legal process."
In a year in which few states have carried out any executions, the aggressive execution practices of a single state — Texas — stand in sharp contrast. 
The Lone Star State has scheduled thirteen executions for the last five months of 2019, more than the rest of the country combined. And a DPIC review of the circumstances in which the warrants were issued raises troubling questions as to whether the state is executing the most morally culpable individuals for the worst of the worst crimes or the most vulnerable prisoners and prisoners who were provided the worst legal process.
The cases of the thirteen men scheduled for execution include two with strong claims of innocence, two whom authorities admit …

Condemned inmate’s death in San Quentin investigated as a suicide

A California death-row inmate convicted of a quadruple murder in Compton died Thursday evening of an apparent suicide, prison officials said Friday.
Aswad Pops, 48, was being housed in a single cell at San Quentin State Prison, which holds all condemned male inmates in the state.
Pops was pronounced dead Thursday at about 7:15 p.m. 
Officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said that the death is being investigated as a suicide.
Officials say that on Jan. 25, 1998, Pops and accomplice Byron Paul Wilson were attempting to rob the Wheels N Stuff carwash when they fatally shot carwash owner Charles Hurd, 33, and employees Michael Hoard, 41, Shawn Potter, 20, and Jessie Dunn, 36.
A Los Angeles County jury sentenced Pops to death on April 7, 2000.
There are currently 731 offenders on California’s death row, which is the largest in the nation. 
The state carried out its last execution in 2006, and in March Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was suspending the d…

Condenado a pena de muerte un hispano que asesinó a dos policías en California

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Un hispano acusado de la muerte en 2016 de dos policías con un rifle de asalto en una ciudad turística del sur de California, John Félix Hernández, fue condenado este viernes a la pena de muerte por un juez estadounidense.
El latino, de 26 años, había sido hallado culpable en mayo por el jurado de la muerte de los agentes José Gilbert Vega, de 63 años y veterano con 35 de servicio próximo a jubilarse, y Lesley Zerebny, de 27 años, que contaba con año y medio en el cuerpo.
"Espero que se queme en el infierno", espetó en alusión a Hernández David Kling, padre de Zerebny, la agente policial que tenía una bebé de 4 meses cuando fue asesinada.
Isaac Vega, hijo del policía hispano asesinado, argumentó por su parte durante la lectura de la sentencia que la pena de muerte es necesaria para mostrar a las personas que no pueden atacar impunemente a las fuerzas del orden.
El jurado que declaró culpable a Hernández de dos…

China executes man for raping and murdering 19-year-old female passenger who reserved ride in his car

The man, Zhong Yuan, was executed in Zhejiang province on Friday afternoon, Xinhua news agency reported.
BEIJING: China executed a man for raping and murdering a 19-year-old female passenger who reserved a ride in his car from Didi Chuxing, the country's largest ride-hailing platform.
The man, Zhong Yuan, was executed in Zhejiang province on Friday afternoon, Xinhua news agency reported.
After his death sentence was approved by the Supreme People's Court (SPC), the Intermediate People's Court of Wenzhou city in Zhejiang announced and delivered the SPC decision to Zhong, said an SPC statement.
Zhong met his next of kin before the execution was carried out in the presence of procuratorate officers, the statement said.
In February, Zhong was convicted of robbing, raping and murdering the victim who reserved a ride in his car on August 24, 2018. He was sentenced to death.
Zhong appealed, but the provincial higher people's court upheld and submitted the death-sentence verdi…

Iran: 8 Men Executed at One Prison in One Day

Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 30, 2019: Eight prisoners were executed at Rajai-Shahr prison Wednesday morning. 
According to IHR sources, on the morning of Wednesday, August 28, at least eight people were executed at Rajai-Shahr prison of Karaj city, near Tehran. 
Six of them were sentenced to death for murder charges. 
Their names are listed as Siavash Inanlou, Manouchehr Dehghan, Alireza Behrad, Ebrahim Yarmout-Oghli, Ahmad Ghareh-Balaei and Reza Mousavi Borghani.
Two others were sentenced to death for drug-related charges. 
Their surname is Mirzaei. They were transferred from Ghezel-Hesar prison to Rajai-Shahr prison for execution.
IHR had previously warned about the imminent risk of their execution.
At least 110 people were executed in Iran in the first half of 2019.
Only 37 of the executions have been announced by authorities or Iranian media. 
Iran Human Rights (IHR) could confirm 73 more through its sources. 
IHR only reports the unannounced executions if it could confirm th…

Judge Marks and Mass Incarceration in the Middle District of Alabama

In 2016, together with former colleague Assistant Federal Public Defender Donnie W. Bethel, I wrote, “[p]eople of all persuasions, political parties, and philosophies have awakened to the terrible toll the crises of overcriminalization and mass incarceration have wrought on America.”
Then, a year later, highlighting the “criminalization of addiction,” I wrote about Benny King – one of Bethel’s clients – a gregarious, good-hearted, God-fearing 53-year-old black man incarcerated for 14 months at the federal correctional institution in Jesup, Georgia, for violating conditions of his supervised release; reprinting Bethel’s arguments I demonstrated (just as Bethel had) how King’s conduct in a nonviolent, low-level federal criminal case bore no relation to his incarceration other than the fact that, it too, like the entirety of King’s nonviolent criminal history, was a byproduct of decades-long untreated drug addiction.
Now, in 2019, as if time were standing still despite the “awakening” B…

Judge approves deal to remove Tennessee inmate from death row months before execution date

Tennessee inmate Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman will leave death row months before his scheduled execution because of a deal brokered by the Nashville district attorney.
Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins approved the deal Friday, allowing Abdur'Rahman, 68, to spend the rest of his life in prison instead of being put to death on April 16.
The move cements a dramatic win for Abdur'Rahman and his attorneys, who had long argued that the racial bias and misconduct of a "rogue prosecutor" had tainted his 1987 murder trial.
District Attorney Glenn Funk, who took office in 2014, agreed. He proposed the deal that nullified Abdur'Rahman's death sentence in court on Wednesday. Defense attorney Brad MacLean signed the deal.
Multiple life sentences will remain in place for the stabbings that killed Patrick Daniels and wounded Norma Jean Norman in 1986.

RELATED | Tennessee: Prosecutor wants to drop man’s death sentence months ahead of execution; judge to consider
Watkins agreed…

Trial for Men Charged With Plotting Sept. 11 Attacks Is Set for 2021

This article was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
WASHINGTON — A military judge on Friday set Jan. 11, 2021, as the start of the joint death-penalty trial at Guantánamo Bay of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four men charged as plotters of the attacks that killed 2,976 people in New York, Washington and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001.
The judge, Col. W. Shane Cohen of the Air Force, set the date for the start of the selection of a military jury at the war court compound at the Navy base in Cuba called Camp Justice.
It was included in a 10-page trial scheduling order that set deadlines toward reaching that trial date. 
The timetable includes a list of materials the prosecutors must provide the defense teams by Oct. 1 as the first step to achieving that start date.
[Read the order.]
This is the first time that a trial judge in the case actually set a start-of-trial date, despite requests by prosecutors since 2012 to two earlier judges to do so.