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Why Tom Daley saying he’s a proud gay Olympian is ‘necessary’: 10 nations taking part in this year’s Tokyo Olympics prescribe the death penalty for homosexuals

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An author has expertly explained why Tom Daley saying he’s proud to be gay at the Olympics is necessary, actually. Following Tom Daley’s groundbreaking victory in the men’s synchronised 10m platform dive during the Tokyo Olympics, the Team GB athlete said: “I am proud to say I am a gay man and an Olympic champion.” While many celebrated Daley’s win and his pride in being a part of the LBGT+ community, others were critical and argued that “mentioning his sexuality” wasn’t necessary. One particular troll tweeted: “His sexual preference bears no relation to his skills.” Author of The Complete David Bowie Nicholas Pegg expertly replied to the thread, explaining that it was in fact “necessary” for Daley to mention his sexuality at the Olympics because many countries competing oppose LGBT+ rights. He wrote: “There are 10 nations taking part in this year’s Tokyo Olympics which prescribe the death penalty for homosexuality. “They would literally execute Tom Daley.” The list includes Afghanista

Tennessee | How young is too young for a death sentence? Christa Pike fights move to set execution date

Christa Gail Pike
What's the difference between being 17 years old and being 18? In Christa Gail Pike's case, her lawyers say, the difference is a death sentence.

The state wants to set an execution date for Pike, now 45 and the only woman on Tennessee's death row. She was 18 years old when she and two other participants in a Knoxville job program for troubled teens killed Colleen Slemmer in a remote spot on the University of Tennessee's agriculture campus.

Pike, her boyfriend Tadaryl Shipp and fellow Job Corps student Shadolla Peterson lured Slemmer, 19, to campus the night of Jan. 12, 1995. Once there, Slemmer was beaten, cut and bludgeoned to death with a rock. Pike kept a piece of her skull as a souvenir.

Investigators identified a love triangle between Pike, Shipp and Slemmer as the motive for the crime.

Only Pike received a death sentence for her role in the killing. Peterson cooperated with investigators and walked away with probation. Shipp was 17 — too young to be put to death. He's serving a life sentence and will be eligible for parole in 2028.

Pike's legal team cites that difference in a new court filing asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to delay her execution — or recommend it be stopped altogether.

"Mr. Shipp was 17 years old at the time of Ms. Slemmer’s death. Christa Pike was 18. That is the difference between a death sentence and parole eligibility in 2028," reads the filing signed by defense attorneys Stephen Ferrell and Kelly Gleason. "That difference cannot be equated with increased maturity or brain development. Christa was not more mature or more responsible than Mr. Shipp."

Drawing the line


The Tennessee Attorney General's Office is asking the high court to set an execution date for Pike, contending she has exhausted her appeals. But Pike's defense team says it's still too soon. They've lodged several arguments, including one centered on her mental illness and youth at the time of the crime.

A jury condemned Pike in March 1996. Nine years later, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the juvenile death penalty in the landmark case Roper v. Simmons. The court held that executing people who committed murder before they turned 18 violates the Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment because they "cannot with reliability be classified among the worst offenders."

The court cited three main differences between juveniles and adults: Juveniles lack maturity and responsibility; they are more vulnerable to negative influences; and their character is not fully formed.

The court drew the line at 18, but Pike's attorneys argue its logic should extend beyond that. They point to scientific research that the brain isn't fully developed until after age 20 and that there's no way to differentiate between the brains of young people.

"There is thus no justification for a drastic differentiation in punishment between a 17-year-old offender and an 18-year-old offender," the filing reads. "And the question is an important one, for Christa Pike was eligible for the death penalty in this case and her co-defendant, Tadaryl Shipp, was not."

The lawyers paint Shipp — not Pike — as the ringleader of the group. Shipp was violent and controlling, they write, while Pike was suffering from undiagnosed bipolar disorder and brain damage after a childhood filled with sexual and physical abuse. Her mother drank while she was in the womb, and she was twice raped as a child.

"It is also significant that, in addition to her youth, Christa Pike was also brain damaged and severely mentally ill at the time of her offense," the filing reads. "Thus, practical effects of the immaturity that would be inherent in the brain of any eighteen-year-old were magnified by other problems that adversely affected Christa’s developing brain."

'A clear story'


Courts have shot down similar arguments in Pike's case before. In 2011, defense lawyers argued that "immature, mentally ill, brain-damaged" 18-year-olds should be exempted from the death penalty. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, reasoning that juries already are allowed to consider a killer's youth and mental health in deciding whether to impose death.

Pike's lawyers contend the jury in her case didn't consider those factors because her attorneys at trial failed to present sufficient evidence. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed in 2019, writing that "the jury heard a clear story: Pike's childhood and upbringing were very difficult and, in some ways, explained how she became a person capable of such a brutal murder."

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case last year.

Pike's attorneys now are asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to recommend that Gov. Bill Lee commute Pike's sentence to life with or without the possibility of parole. At the very least, they're asking for more time so a psychologist can examine Pike in prison and so the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights can finish investigating whether Pike's human rights have been violated.

Lee could grant Pike clemency but has not done so for any other death-row inmate since he was inaugurated in January 2019. The state has executed four men since then, including Nicholas Sutton, a Morristown man who killed four people and turned his life around on death row.

Pike has had additional legal troubles while in prison. In 2004, she was convicted of attempted murder for nearly strangling a fellow inmate with a shoestring.

Pike would be the first woman Tennessee has executed in over 200 years, her attorneys say, and the first person it's put to death "in the modern era" who was a teenager at the time of the crime.

Source: knoxnews.com, Travis Dorman, June 12, 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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