Showing posts from September, 2022


USA | Parkland Case Challenges Us All to Figure Out What a Mass Murderer Deserves

The ongoing sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old Florida man who in 2018 murdered fourteen students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, will test whether the seven men and five women on the jury hearing his case can hate the sin but muster the courage to spare the life of the sinner. That is exactly what his defense team is asking them to do as they sit in judgment of the person who perpetrated one of this country’s most brutal mass murders. Like many death penalty defense lawyers before them, Cruz’s lawyers, to their credit, have not downplayed the gravity of the horrors their client inflicted in Parkland, Florida. Instead, during the sentencing trial, or what the journalist Dahlia Lithwick once called a “trial of the heart,” they have focused their attention on who Cruz is and the factors that shaped his life. As the Supreme Court said more than fifty years ago, in capital cases those who impose the sentence must consider “

Florida prosecutors to begin rebuttal in penalty trial of Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz

Prosecutors in the penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz will begin their rebuttal case Tuesday, challenging his attorneys' contention that he murdered 17 people because his birth mother abused alcohol during pregnancy, a condition they say went untreated. Prosecutor Mike Satz's team is expected to call experts who will testify Cruz has antisocial personality disorder — in lay terms, he's a sociopath — and fully responsible for his Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people with antisocial personality disorder commit "exploitive, delinquent and criminal behavior with no remorse." They usually have no regard for others, don't follow the law, can't sustain consistent relationships or employment and use manipulation for personal gain, the NIH says. Prosecutors will want to reemphasize Cruz "understood exactly" what he was doing during the m

Vietnam | Dozens of lawyers sign petition to abolish prisoners’ foot shackles

Some prisoners are kept in solitary confinement with one leg chained to a concrete seat More than 30 lawyers across Vietnam have signed a petition calling on the government to stop prisoners being shackled by their feet. They called it inhumane and incompatible with civilized society. The petition was started by lawyer Ngo Ngoc Trai on Sept. 21. Other lawyers who signed it included Ngo Anh Tuan, Le Van Hoa, Le Van Luan and Vu Thi Ha. It was sent to Vietnam’s senior leaders on Friday. Last Tuesday reports emerged that prisoner of conscience Trinh Ba Tu had been beaten and shackled in Detention Center 6 in Nghe An province. He was allegedly beaten, and locked alone in a cell for 10 days with his feet chained. “Being beaten, placed in solitary confinement for days on end, amounts to torture,” said Amnesty International Deputy Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah. The petition talked about the case of Dang Van Hien, whose death penalty has just been commuted to life imprisonment by Vietnam’

USA | Execution by Nitrogen Hypoxia Touted as More ‘Humane,’ but Evidence Is Lacking

A legal battle over nitrogen hypoxia, a new potential method of execution, raises ethical questions Alan Eugene Miller, who killed 3 men in workplace shootings in 1999, was scheduled to be the 1st person executed by nitrogen hypoxia—a new method never before used for the death penalty—on September 22. But a week before his execution, the state of Alabama admitted it was not prepared to go forward with the procedure and would use lethal injection instead. On September 19 the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama issued a preliminary injunction barring the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia, essentially amounting to a stay of execution until the state was ready to administer the new method. Earlier this month three academics filed a human rights complaint with the United Nations on Miller’s behalf regarding Alabama’s use of lethal injection, which has been criticized as inhumane for causing excessive suffering. Less than 3 hours before Mil

Alabama | Judge tells state to ‘locate and preserve evidence’ in failed execution of Alan Eugene Miller

A federal judge will allow attorneys for an Alabama death row inmate, who the state failed to execute on Thursday night, to preserve evidence and have the inmate examined for injuries. Alan Eugene Miller was set to be executed Thursday night by the state of Alabama for his August 5, 1999 shooting spree that left three men dead in Shelby County. But it was called off at approximately 11:30 p.m. because Miller’s veins couldn’t be accessed before the death warrant expired at midnight, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said. Miller’s attorneys asked in a filing made Friday morning in the Middle District of Alabama that one of Miller’s “attorneys and/or one of their agents be given access to meet with Mr. Miller in person today at Holman Correctional Facility with equipment necessary to preserve evidence of his injuries from last night’s attempted execution.” “(The state has) publicly admitted they had difficulty accessing his veins during the process, and the execut

Japan | Rare recording captures final hours of a death row inmate

A rare audio recording of an exchange between a death row inmate, his sister and prison staff two days before the man was hanged will be presented as evidence in a lawsuit filed by 2 condemned prisoners contesting the constitutionality of informing convicts of their executions just hours before they take place. The reel-to-reel recording at the Osaka Detention House in 1955 was made at the behest of Sakuro Tamai, the prison warden. The inmate was handed the death sentence for fatally shooting a police officer during the course of a robbery. He was informed of the time of his execution 2 days beforehand. The recording lasts around 100 minutes. A member of staff is heard telling the inmate to make sure he gets everything off his chest. The sister visited over 2 days and told her brother how his family was holding up. The inmate chats about his childhood and his thoughts for his aged mother. He ends the conversation by thanking his sister for all that she had done. “Please give my best re

Oregon governor candidates weigh in on death penalty

In the race to be Oregon’s next governor, the Democratic candidate says she’ll continue Oregon’s moratorium on capital punishment, while the Republican and unaffiliated candidates indicate they will revoke it, which could allow the state to resume executions. For more than a decade, Oregon governors have placed a moratorium on capital punishment, despite a long-standing, voter-approved constitutional amendment that allows the state to kill people convicted of the most serious crimes. Oregon’s next governor has the power to decide whether to maintain the moratorium of their predecessors, or revoke it, opening up the possibility of the state carrying out death sentences once more. “As long as the death penalty remains a possibility, there’s always the possibility of an execution,” said Jeff Ellis, director of the Oregon Capital Resource Center, which assists attorneys representing people sentenced to death. CANDIDATES' STANCES OPB asked all 3 gubernatorial candidates: If elected gove

Oklahoma | Glossip attorney, state lawmaker call for new trial

Don Knight, attorney for death row inmate Richard Glossip, says new evidence in the case should be enough for a new trial. An Oklahoma lawmaker and the defense attorney for death row inmate Richard Glossip called for a new trial on the day he was scheduled to be put to death. Richard Glossip was scheduled to be executed Thursday before Gov. Kevin Stitt issued a 60-day stay of execution last month. But Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, and Glossip’s defense attorney Don Knight called for a new trial and investigations based on new evidence they announced in a Thursday press conference. “I am a strong proponent of the death penalty but we should always make sure that we are 100% sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have the right person,” Humphrey said. Glossip was convicted twice of 1st-degree murder in a 1997 murder-for-hire plot that accused him of hiring Justin Sneed to kill his boss, motel owner Barry Van Treese. Sneed admitted to killing Van Treese and told investigators it was unde

Texas Prosecutor Loses Attempt to Spare a Murderer From Execution

The state criminal appeals court shut down a district attorney’s argument that John Henry Ramirez should not be executed because the death penalty was “unethical.” The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday denied a motion to postpone the execution of a prisoner scheduled to be killed next month for the murder of a convenience store worker. The rejection was the latest twist in the tumultuous case of John Henry Ramirez, who won notoriety when he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court — not to spare his life, but to allow his pastor to lay hands on him and pray in the execution chamber. Mr. Ramirez won that appeal, and his execution date was set for Oct. 5. But then came a reversal unrelated to Mr. Ramirez’s religious freedom case: The district attorney of Nueces County, Mark Gonzalez, filed a motion withdrawing his office’s request for a death warrant, citing his “firm belief that the death penalty is unethical.” The withdrawal would most likely have postponed Mr. Ramirez’s execution