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Human Rights: The Inhumane Regime of Iran

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Introduction
The Iranian regime is a theocratic state based on the principle of velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule). The authoritarian rulers of Iran violently clamp down on popular demands, including calls for greater personal freedoms and equality.
Freedom of assembly is effectively non-existent in Iran. That is why various social sectors are severely restricted and suppressed when they assembled to voice collective and basic demands. In this context, the Iranian people have increasingly called for the overthrow of the theocracy, believing it does not align with their democratic aspirations and inclination to join the international community as peaceful and responsible actors. In December 2017, people in more than 130 cities in all of Iran's provinces rose up against the regime in large numbers and demanded democratic change and separation of religion and state. The protestors were violently suppressed, with hundreds killed and thousands more jailed and tortured.
The cleri…

Texas: Executions scheduled on October 2, 10 and 16

The Walls Unit, Huntsville, Texas

Stephen Dale Barbee


Stephen Dale Barbee's execution is scheduled to begin at 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. 52-year-old Stephen is convicted of the murder of 34-year-old Lisa Underwood, and her 7-year-old son Jayden at their Fort Worth, Texas home on February 19, 2005. Lisa was also 7-months pregnant at the time of the murder. Stephen has been on death row in Texas for the last 13 years.

Stephen was a year away from graduating high school, when he dropped out, however, he eventually obtained his GED. Stephen lost both his siblings when they were each 20 years of age, resulting in a downward spiral for a time. However, he eventually got his life back on track, working as a police officer and operating a tree-trimming and concrete cutting business with his ex-wife, Theresa, from whom he was divorced. Stephen was also a member of a local church, where he worked with children.

Lisa Underwood, a bagel shop owner in Fort Worth, Texas, met Stephen Barbee, a customer, and the 2 eventually started seeing each other. In July 2004, Lisa became pregnant and believed Barbee was the father (DNA tests would later prove Barbee was not the father). Barbee married another woman at the end of 2004. On February 19, 2005, Lisa’s family and friends held a baby shower for her, but she never arrived. They contacted the police who began investigating her disappearance.

Police checked our her home, which did not appear to have been broken into. However, Lisa’s blood was discovered throughout the living room. Police also visited Theresa (Barbee’s ex-wife), to inquire about Barbee’s whereabouts. Theresa urged Barbee to turn himself in.

On the day of Lisa’s disappearance, unbeknownst to Fort Worth detectives, Barbee was stopped by a deputy sheriff along a service road. Barbee was observed to be wet and covered in mud. He gave a false name to the deputy and fled on foot. On February 21, 2005, Lisa's vehicle was discovered in a creek, about 300 yards from where the deputy had stopped Barbee. The windows were down and in the rear of the vehicle, police discovered cleaning solution.

Later that day, police tracked Barbee, his current wife, and another co-worker, Ronald Dodd, to a job site in Tyler, Texas. All agreed to go to the Tyler police station for questioning. In his first interview with police, Barbee stated that he had not seen, nor heard from Lisa in months. After his initial statement, Barbee asked to use the bathroom, and while in there, confessed to a detective that he killed Lisa. Barbee said he started a fight with Lisa and held her face down on the carpet until she stopped breathing. He then held his hand over Jayden’s mouth and nose until he stopped breathing. Barbee attempted to defend himself, saying he was just trying to calm them down, however, evidence showed that both bodies had been severely beaten. He said he committed the crime because he thought Lisa was going to ruin his family and his relationship with his wife. This confession was not recorded. Barbee then gave another, recorded, confession to the police, however this confession was not allowed to be presented at the trial.

The day after confessing, Barbee took police to the location of the 2 buried bodies. A few days later, Barbee recanted his confession.

Barbee was convicted and sentenced to death on February 27, 2006. 

Randy Ethan Halprin


The Walls Unit, Huntsville, Texas
Randy Ethan Halprin is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Thursday, October 10, 2019, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. 42-year-old Randy is sentenced to death for his part in the murder of 29-year-old Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins on December 24, 2000, in Irving, Texas. Randy has spent the last 16 years on death row in Texas.

Randy was born in Texas. He was raised in the Jewish faith, including having a Bar Mitzvah when he was 13. He dropped out of school after the 11th grade. Randy would work as a laborer and perform maintenance prior to being arrested. In 1997, Randy was convicted and given a 30-year sentence for severely beating an 18-month-old child he was babysitting. The child suffered two broken legs, two broken arms, and a skull fracture. When he confessed, Randy claimed that he was upset that the child wouldn’t stop crying.

Randy was serving his time at the John B. Connally Unit, a maximum security state prison near Kenedy, Texas, when he joined six other inmates - 38-year-old Donald Newbury, 39-year-old Joseph C. Garcia, 37-year-old Larry James Harper, 39-year-old Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr., 30-year-old George Rivas, and 38-year-old Michael Anthony Rodriguez - in a conspiracy to break out of the prison. The group, led by George Rivas, became known as the “Texas 7.” All were serving sentences of 30 years or longer, most with potential life sentences.

On December 13, 2000, around 11:20 am, the 7 inmates used a variety of ploys to overpower and restrain nine civilian maintenance supervisors, four correctional officers, and three uninvolved inmates. They had planned the escape during the slowest part of the day and in areas with low surveillance. They stole a white prison truck to assist in their escape, eventually dumping it in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

After their escape, the group of seven fled to San Antonio, Texas. On December 14, they robbed a Radio Shack in Pearland to obtain money. On December 19, four of the seven checked into an Econo Lodge motel in Farmers Branch. They decided, once again needing money, to rob Oshman’s Sporting Goods store in Irving, a nearby town. For several days they observed the store and created their plans.

On December 24, 2000, they held up to store, stealing 44 guns and over $70,000 in cash. A customer outside the store saw the hold up and called police. Officer Aubrey Hawkins responded to the call and was immediately ambushed. He suffered 11 gunshot wounds from at least 5 different weapons. His body was dragged out of his vehicle and run over by the group as they fled the scene.

The Texas 7 were eventually arrested on January 22, 2001, with the help of the television show America’s Most Wanted, which featured their story on January 20, 2001. 6 of 7 were captured. The 7th, Larry Harper, killed himself before he could be arrested. All 6 surviving members were charged, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murder of Officer Hawkins. As it was unclear who actually shot Officer Hawkins, they were convicted under the Law of Parties, which allows for a person to be criminally held responsible for another’s actions if that person acts with “the intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense and solicits, encourages, directs aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense… If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirator are guilty of the felony actually committed.”

Michael Anthony Rodriguez was executed on August 14, 2008, after asking that his appeals be stopped. The ringleader, George Rivas, was executed on February 29, 2012. Donald Newbury was executed on February 4, 2015. Joseph Garcia was executed on December 4, 2018. Earlier this year, Patrick Murphy had his execution stayed by the Supreme Court of the United States.

During his trial, Randy and his lawyers argued that Randy should not be sentenced to death because he did not “want to take a gun in or participate in the robbery.” Randy has also insisted that he did not fire a weapon during the robbery.

Recent appeals for Randy have also focused on his Jewish heritage. Randy and his lawyers claims that the Dallas judge who ultimately sentenced him to death regularly expressed racist and anti-semitic remarks, which violated Randy’s right to due process and a fair trial.

Randall Wayne Mays


The Walls Unit, Huntsville, Texas
Randall Wayne Mays is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CST, on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Sixty-year-old Randall was convicted of the murder of 61-year-old Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Price Ogburn and 63-year-old Henderson County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Paul Steven Habelt on May 17, 2007, in Payne Springs, Texas. Randall has spent the last 11 years on Texas’ death row.

Randall was described by his family as good with children and a man who took care of his family. One of his brothers was executed for murder in 1995. A 2nd brother was shot and killed, an event Randall witnessed, and a third brother died of a drug overdose. Randall did not graduate from high school, leaving school after the 10th grade. Randall used drugs for a time but stopped in 1991. Prior to his arrest he worked as a welder, an oil field worker, an architectural designer, and a construction worker.

On May 17, 2007, Fran Nicholson called the police saying that her neighbor, Randall Mays was shooting at his wife, Candis. Fran was concerned because he was close to the road and her grandchildren were going to be dropped off by the school bus soon. Fran also observed Mays and his wife screaming at each other.

Deputies Billy Jack Valentine, Duane Sanders, and Eric Ward responded to the call. All 3 were in uniforms and arrived in marked patrol vehicles. Candis claimed that she and her husband were simply arguing. Mays claimed that he was target practicing with his gun, which was in the house.

Deputy Sanders left the other officers and went over to talk Fran. Around the same time, Deputy Tony Ogburn arrived. Deputy Sanders radioed back that she wanted to press charges. When the police determined that Mays had previous felony convictions, Deputy Valentine attempted to arrest him. As he began reading him his rights, Mays began running towards the house. Deputy Valentine attempted to stop him but failed.

Mays emerged from the house with a deer hunting rifle telling the police to “Back off, back off!” Mays then returned inside the house. Deputy Valentine, along with others, continued to try and talk Mays into peacefully surrendering.

Approximately 20 minutes after the standoff began, Mays climbed out of window without his rifle. Deputy Valentine attempted to maneuver between the Mays and house so that he could not return, however Mays saw him and ran back towards the house. Deputy Valentine tripped over a hose and failed to stop Mays. Mays fired a short time later, hitting Deputy Ogburn in the head. Mays then shot and killed Inspector Paul Habelt, who had arrived earlier. Officers began returning fire. Deputy Kevin Harris was shot by Mays in the leg, but Deputy Harris also managed to hit Mays, who then surrendered.

Randall Mays was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death on May 18, 2008.

This is not Randall's 1st execution date. He was previously scheduled to be executed in March 2015, however his execution was stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in order to determine if Randall was mentally competent to be executed. A new execution date was set once competency was determined. 

Source: The Forgiveness Foundation, Staff, September 17, 2019


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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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