Iran | Death Penalty According to Shariah Law

Chapter III of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran contains provisions related to the rights of the people.  In this Chapter, Article 22 states: “The dignity, life, property, rights, domicile, and occupations of people may not be violated, unless sanctioned by law.” However, the number of crimes punishable by death in Iran is among the highest in the world. Charges such as “adultery, incest, rape, sodomy, insulting the Prophet Mohammad and other great Prophets, possessing or selling illicit drugs, theft and alcohol consumption for the 4th time, premeditated murder, moharebeh (waging war against God), efsad-fil-arz (corruption on earth), baghy (armed rebellion), fraud and human trafficking” are capital offences.[1] Many of the charges punishable by death cannot be considered as “most serious crimes” and do not meet the ICCPR standards.[2] Murder, drug possession and trafficking, rape/sexual assault, moharebeh and efsad-fil-arz and baghy are the most common charges resulting

California | Woman convicted of killing 4 daughters has death penalty reversed

A mother convicted of murdering her four children after purposefully burning down their Santa Clarita Valley home more than 20 years ago had the death penalty in her case reversed Monday.  

Sandi Dawn Nieves was sentenced to death approximately two years after she burned down her Cherry Creek Drive home on July 1, 1998, while all four of her daughters — Jaqlene Marie Folden, 5, Kristl Dawn Folden, 7, Rashel Hollie Nieves, 11, and Nikolet Amber Nieves, 12 — held a slumber party inside.  

Shortly before Nieves was sentenced to death in October 2000, the jury found prosecutors proved Nieves asked the girls to hold a slumber party in the kitchen that night, and while they were on top of their sleeping bags, the mother wrote letters to people detailing her plan to kill herself and her children.  

Nieves would go on to light a series of fires inside the home, using gasoline and burning items within the open oven in the kitchen. She survived the fire, along with her 14-year-old son, but all four girls died from smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation. 

The murder trial quickly gained national attention as details from that evening were revealed. The jury found Nieves guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and the attempted murder of her son, and found true the special circumstances that the defendant committed multiple murders and that each murder was committed while lying in wait and while engaged in the crime of arson. 

On Monday, the Supreme Court of California affirmed Nieves’ convictions but reversed the  death sentence due to the “trial court’s misconduct” more than 20 years ago, according to a ruling published Monday.  

The state’s high court ruled that, due to the judge’s “pervasive mistreatment of defense counsel that began at the outset of the trial,” the “trial court’s disdain for and distrust of defense counsel is inescapable.” 

“Although we conclude that the court’s misconduct could not have altered the jury’s guilt determination, we are unable to reach that conclusion regarding the penalty trial, thus finding prejudicial misconduct that requires reversal of the penalty judgment.”  

In total, the Supreme Court found or assumed that the original trial had a total of seven errors that led to their decision to stay the death penalty, ranging from prejudicial misconduct by the court to exclusion of the defense’s expert testimony and evidence.  

Source: signalscv.com, Caleb Lunetta, May 3, 2021

Death penalty reversed for Santa Clarita mother who killed her 4 daughters in 1998

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The California Supreme Court Monday reversed a Santa Clarita woman's death sentence for murdering her four young daughters in an arson fire at the family's home more than two decades ago.

The state's highest court upheld Sandi Dawn Nieves' conviction for the killings, but cited the "trial court's misconduct'' in overturning the 57-year-old woman's death sentence for the July 1, 1998, killings of Jaqlene Marie Folden, 5, Kristl Dawn Folden, 7, Rashel Hollie Nieves, 11, and Nikolet Amber Nieves, 12, who died from inhaling soot, smoke and carbon monoxide.

"Although we conclude that the court's misconduct could not have altered the jury's guilt determination, we are unable to reach that conclusion regarding the penalty trial, thus finding prejudicial misconduct that requires reversal of the penalty judgment,'' Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye wrote on behalf of the panel in its unanimous ruling.

Superior Court Judge L. Jeffrey Wiatt -- who has since died -- made "inappropriately disparaging and sarcastic remarks to defense counsel, impugning his performance, chastising him for improper behavior, and sanctioning and citing him for contempt in front of the jury," according to the panel's 143-page ruling.

"The trial judge also directed improper comments and questions to witnesses, openly doubting the credibility of one defense expert by asking argumentative and hostile questions and remarking on the possibility that another defense expert 'just doesn't know what he's talking about.' ... In the penalty phase, the trial judge needlessly reprimanded and belittled a lay witness who testified for the defense," according to the ruling.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office could not be reached for immediate comment on the reversal of the death sentence or whether the trial's penalty phase would be retried.

But District Attorney George Gascn -- who has said he has a "mandate from the public -- issued a directive shortly after he was sworn into office last December that says a death sentence is "never an appropriate resolution in any case."

One of three men who had been on death row for the 1998 rape and beating death of a woman in Long Beach before his death sentence was reversed by the California Supreme Court was re-sentenced in March to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jurors convicted Nieves of first-degree murder for the deaths of her daughters, along with one count each of arson and the attempted murder of her son, David, who testified against her.

The jury also found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, murder while lying in wait and murder during an arson.

"The evidence that defendant deliberately set a fire to kill her family included testimony that she planned ahead to compel her children (to) sleep together on the kitchen floor, wrote letters indicating that she intended to kill herself and her children, drove to the post office to mail her letters, and intentionally poured and lit gasoline throughout the house," according to the California Supreme Court's ruling.

"It is not difficult to imagine the horror a jury might feel in response to defendant's actions. Nonetheless, a juror could regard the stunning enormity of the crime, and the fact that defendant intended to take her own life, as a sign of significant mental instability," according to the ruling.

"Absent the trial judge's persistent, disparaging remarks, a juror might have viewed these circumstances with greater sympathy and concluded the crime was a tragedy lacking the moral culpability to warrant death. A juror might also have given greater weight to defendant's remorse and evidence she had been a loving mother to conclude that life in prison, confronted each day with what she had done to her children, was a fitting punishment."

Shortly before her death sentence was handed down in 2000, Nieves vowed that she loved her son.

"If I could take back time, if I could do things better, if I was smarter, if I had time before everyone passed out, we would have gotten out of that house," she said then.

The judge was unswayed, saying the woman "betrayed the trust of her children by convincing them they were to have a family slumber party."

Wiatt noted then that the woman set a series of fires with gasoline throughout the house and that her children begged to be allowed to go outside, adding that she ignored one daughter's plea to go to the bathroom to vomit and told her instead to be sick in the kitchen.

"The defendant very clearly had in mind that her children would die,'' the judge said. "She was staging this multiple murder as her final act of revenge to the men in her life."

Nieves' appellate attorney, Amitai Schwartz, told the state's highest court during a Feb. 2 hearing that his client didn't get a fair trial.

Calling it "an extreme case," the woman's appellate attorney argued that the trial court "aligned itself with the prosecution, assisted with the prosecution, it denigrated the defense, it denigrated the defense counsel, it humiliated the defendant," and that the judge "lost control of himself" and the court the more he tried to control the proceedings during Nieves' trial.

Under questioning by some of the Supreme Court justices about the frequent wrangling between the judge and Nieves' trial lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Howard Waco, during the trial, Deputy Attorney General Kristen Inberg countered that there was "no misconduct" and that the judge exercised his authority to control the proceedings to ensure a fair trial for both sides as the defendant's trial attorney "consistently flouted" the court's rules.

The deputy attorney general -- who urged the panel to uphold Nieves' conviction and death sentence -- said the evidence was "overwhelming" that the defendant had carefully planned and intentionally set the fire that killed her daughters, and that the "evidence of appellant's guilt was just too strong to have any of these comments (by the judge) influence the jury."

Sourceabc7.com, City News Service, May 4, 2021

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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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