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Q&As: Kirsten Han, anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore

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In the third of the DPRU's (Death Penalty Research Unit, University of Oxford, Faculty of Law) series of Q&As with death penalty experts from around the world, Kirsten Han, an anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore, tells DPRU Research Officer Jocelyn Hutton about her current work and about her involvement in the case of the recently executed Nagaenthran Dharmalingam . Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do in relation to the death penalty? A lot of my contribution to the campaign to abolish the death penalty in Singapore has to do with storytelling, since that fits with the skills that I have as a writer and journalist, and because abolitionist perspectives, or any in-depth coverage of capital punishment, are missing from the local government-controlled mainstream media. I write about death row prisoners and the experiences of their families, try to humanise this issue. For many Singaporeans, it’s so distant and so abstract that it’s very easy to dismiss; so

Georgia sets execution for man convicted... 45 years ago

A Georgia man convicted of killing an 8-year-old girl and raping a 10-year-old girl more than 45 years ago is scheduled to be executed next month, state officials said.

Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy Ward announced in a Wednesday news release that Virgil Delano Presnell Jr. is to be put to death at 7 p.m. on May 17 at the state prison in Jackson. Presnell, 68, is accused of abducting and attacking the 2 girls as they walked home from school in Cobb County, just outside Atlanta, on May 4, 1976.

He was convicted in August 1976 on charges including malice murder, kidnapping and rape and was sentenced to death. His death sentence was overturned in 1992 but was reinstated in March 1999. Presnell staked out a Cobb County elementary school on May 3, 1976, and saw a 10-year-old girl walking home on a wooded trail. He returned the next day, and abducted the girl and her 8-year-old friend when they came walking down the trail, according to evidence at trial outlined in a Georgia Supreme Court ruling.

He drove the 2 girls to a secluded wooded area, made them undress and raped the older girl, the ruling says. The younger girl tried to run as he took her back to the car, but Presnell caught her, shoved her face underwater in a creek and drowned her.

Presnell then locked the older girl in his car trunk, began driving and dropped her in a wooded area when he got a flat tire. Throughout, Presnell had forced her to engage in sex acts multiple times, the ruling says.

Presnell had told the girl he’d return, but she heard sounds from a nearby gas station and walked there. She described Presnell and his car with a flat tire to police, who found him changing his tire at his apartment complex near where he’d left the older girl.

At first, Presnell denied everything but later he led police to the 8-year-old girl’s body and confessed, the ruling says. Police found a handgun and child pornography showing young girls in his bedroom.

Attorneys for Presnell have said in court filings that Presnell was born to a teenage mother who drank and smoked heavily throughout her pregnancy. Presnell suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome that damaged his brain and kept him "from ever developing into a functioning, responsible adult," his lawyers argued.

"Coupled with a childhood marked by ongoing violence, alcoholism, and sexual and physical abuse, it is not at all difficult to see how he developed into an adult with serious disturbances which, left unchecked and untreated, could produce tragic results," his lawyers wrote in a filing arguing that his sentence was unconstitutional.

Presnell would be the 1st person executed by the state of Georgia since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The last person executed by Georgia was Donnie Cleveland Lance in January 2020. Georgia uses an injection of the sedative pentobarbital to carry out executions.

Source: The Associated Press, Staff, April 28, 2022


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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