Oklahoma | I went inside death row, what I saw made me sick - Henry McLeish

The evolution of civilised behaviour, indicating a retreat from barbarism, has become a distinctive feature of most modern western democracies, but America often disappoints, retaining practices that shock, sadden, and in my case, nearly made me physically sick.
My visit to death row at McAlester State Penitentiary, Oklahoma, brought home to me, how the final setting for government sponsored killings, combined with execution by lethal injection, brought a brutal end to lives. And made a mockery of the idea of justice, offering instead a violent, humiliating, and inhuman act of revenge, with no serious pretence that any of these end of life dramas, provide any deterrence in criminal justice terms. Formerly known as “Indian Territory”, and home of the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, with a population of over 4 million, became a state in 1907. Located in America’s “Bible” belt, where there is a strong fundamentalist Christian tradition and powerful Republican politics, Oklahoma remains a pro…

Georgia | Father and son accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery 'are being isolated away from other prisoners for their own safety while behind bars'

Gregory and Travis McMichael
The father and son who are accused of murdering 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot dead while reportedly out jogging, are allegedly being isolated from other prisoners for their own safety.  

Arbery was shot dead by Travis McMichael, 34, on February 23 while his former cop father, Gregory, 64, watched from the cargo load of their pick-up truck with his own shotgun poised. 

The pair were charged with murder after the killing was caught on film, sparking outrage across the world. 

Both men are now being held in a separate wing of the Glynn County Detention Center, in Brunswick, Georgia, according to TMZ. 

The men can reportedly eat alone and periodically leave their cells while being kept isolated from other prisoners.

TMZ also claims that there are no TVs in the section of the jail where the men are being housed, so they cannot follow the case in the news. 

Glynn County Undersheriff Ron Corbett revealed the details to the outlet but refused to say whether or not the men were on suicide watch or if their lives have been threatened. 

The news comes after Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told TMZ that she hopes prosecutors seek the death penalty against the McMichaels. 

'I would like all hands involved, that played a part in my son's murder to be prosecuted to the highest [degree],' Cooper-Jones said Tuesday. 

'Coming from a mother's point of view: my son died, and so they should die as well.'

When pressed on whether she'd be opposed to a death penalty sentence, the grief-stricken mother reiterated she'd 'totally agree with that.'

On Monday, the Georgia attorney general appointed Joyette M. Holmes, Cobb County's first African-American district attorney, to oversee Arbery's case.       

Arbery was shot dead by Travis on February 23 while his former cop father watched from the cargo load of their pick-up truck with his own shotgun poised
The appointment of Holmes was welcomed by Cooper-Jones, who said she has spoken to the prosecutor and has full faith in her abilities to obtain justice for her slain son.

'I think with the counsel I have and also the newly assigned DA [Holmes], I think we will get justice for Ahmaud,' Cooper-Jones said.

She added that Holmes too said she was confident her son's killers would be convicted.  

Following her appointment on Monday, Holmes became the fourth prosecutor to take the case, superseding Tom Durden, who reportedly requested to be replaced by a prosecutor with a larger staff citing the case's growth 'in size and magnitude.' 

'District Attorney Holmes is a respected attorney with experience, both as a lawyer and a judge,' state Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, said in a statement. 

'And the Cobb County District Attorney's office has the resources, personnel and experience to lead this prosecution and ensure justice is done.' 

Holmes served four years a magistrate judge in suburban Cobb County before Gov. Brian Kemp appointed her to fill the vacant district attorney's position last July.

According to the Georgia Prosecuting Attorneys Council, Holmes is one of only seven black district attorneys in the state.

An attorney for Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, also applauded the appointment of a new lead prosecutor.

'In order for justice to be carried out both effectively and appropriately in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, it is imperative that the special prosecutor has no affiliation with the Southeast Georgia legal or law enforcement communities,' attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement. 

He asked that Holmes 'be zealous in her search for justice.'

Arbery was hit by three shotgun blasts, according to an autopsy report released Monday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. 

One shot grazed his right wrist, and the other two struck him in the chest. 

The 25-year-old had no drugs or alcohol in his system, and was carrying two tan bandannas which were soaked with blood.

It has taken nearly three months and several different prosecutors for Travis and Gregory McMichael to be arrested and charged with his killing. 

Georgia's Attorney General is now investigating the handling of the case amid claims that prosecutors passed it off to protect 64-year-old Gregory, a former police detective who recently worked in the local district attorney's office. 

The case was first assigned to Jackie Johnson in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, who recused herself because Gregory McMichael was previously an investigator in her office. 

It was then handed to George E. Barnhill, district attorney for Georgia’s Waycross Judicial Circuit, who recused himself under pressure from Arbery’s mother amid claims Barnhill’s son used to work with Gregory McMichael in the Brunswick district attorney’s office.

Ahmaud Arbery
Durden then took over the reins, and said last week he planned to present the investigation to a grand jury before a video of the incident leaked and the GBI was assigned to the case. The McMichaels weren't arrested until after the video became public.

The case has sparked outrage around the world and some say it is proof of persistent racism in the South. 

Over the weekend, people ran to honor what would have been Ahmaud's 26th birthday and armed protesters took to the street. 

The McMichaels' defense has been that they were making a citizen's arrest after suspecting Ahmaud of breaking into and robbing homes in their neighborhood. 

They said Travis then exercised his stand your ground right by shooting Ahmaud, claiming the unarmed 25-year-old reached for his gun.  

On Monday, DoJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said: 'The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation. 

'We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate,' Kupec said in a statement.' 

The McMichaels have both been charged by the state of Georgia with murder and aggravated assault which carry maximum prison sentences of life. 

Georgia has no hate crimes as a state but the federal charge carries a maximum prison sentence of life when the hate crime results in death. 

A federal prosecution would supersede a state case and could negate it if the defendants were found guilty and the need for a state prosecution reduced. 


February 23: Ahmaud Arbery is shot dead in the street in Brunswick, Georgia. 

Gregory and Travis McMichael had gone out in their car with guns to chase him because they mistook him for a burglar. 

When they caught up to him, Travis got out of the car. 

Gregory says they told Arbery that they wanted to talk to him and that he attacked Travis. A struggle ensued and Travis fired his gun twice, killing Ahmaud, 25. 

Late February - First prosecutor recuses herself

Jackie Johnson, the Brunswick District Attorney, stepped down from the case because Gregory used to work in her office as an investigator. 

Mid-April - Second prosecutor says he won't press charges, then recuses himself

George Barnhill was given the case. 

He at first said he did not think it merited charges because the McMichaels were acting lawfully by trying to carry out a citizen's arrest, which is legal in Georgia. 

He also said that the video 'shows' Arbery reaching for Travis' gun. 

The first shot is fired however when the pair are out of frame. 

When the camera panned back to them, they were struggling again to the side of the vehicle. 

Barnhill said Travis was standing his ground by firing three shots which hit Arbery. 

He later had to recuse himself after it emerged that his son works in the Brunswick District Attorney's Office, where Gregory served. 

May 5 - Third prosecutor passes it on to grand jury   

Tom Durden is the third prosecutor to have the case come across his desk. 

He said that his office would approach it without prior prejudice.  

This week, he announced that he would not make a decision on whether or not to charge, and that he wants to convene a grand jury to take it on. 

May 7 - Georgia Bureau of Investigation files charges

The GBI announced that it was bringing charges of murder and aggravated assault against the Gregory and Travis on May 7.

May 11 - Department of Justice says it is weighing hate crime charges against the McMichaels 

Georgia's Attorney General Chris Carr orders the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct a federal probe into why it took 74 days for the men to be arrested. 

The case is also given to Joyette Holmes, a black prosecutor.

Source: dailymail.co.uk, Harry Howard, May 13, 2020

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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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