Tag: Death Penalty
Washington Governor Jay Inslee today suspended the use of the death penalty in the state for the duration of his term.
"There have been too many doubts raised about capital punishment, there are too many flaws in this system today," Inslee said at a news conference. "There is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system."
The decision is part of a growing trend.
Last year, Maryland abolished the death penalty, the 18th state to do so and the sixth in the last six years.
More from Inslee: [More...]
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Billy Slagle has been on death row since his murder conviction in 1988. He was 18 at the time of the crime. His execution date was set for Tuesday. This morning, he was found hanged in his cell. He was in solitary confinement.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors joined Slagle's family in asking for a reprieve, urging [Gov. John]Kasich to commute his sentence to life in prison without parole -- a sentence the prosecutor's office said had not been available at the time.
Gov. Kasich denied the request on July 24.
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(Note: Links added and blockquoting fixed.)
A federal jury in Brooklyn has sentenced Ronell Wilson to death for killing two undercover cops a decade ago. Wilson was previously convicted and sentenced to death, but the Second Circuit reversed the death sentence due to prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments.
That sentence was overturned in 2010, when an appeals court ruled that prosecutors had unfairly tried to influence the jury in the case.
The court specifically faulted prosecutors for arguing that Wilson's claims of remorse should be discredited because he declined to plead guilty and refused to testify in his trial.
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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today granted a reprieve from the death penalty to Nathan Dunlap, who is scheduled to be executed in August for killings 15 years ago at a Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor.
The reprieve is not clemency. A future governor could lift it. But it means Dunlap's execution date is canceled and Hickenlooper says he is unlikely to revisit the decision.
"It is a legitimate question whether we as a state should be taking lives," the order says. "Because the question is about the use of the death penalty itself, and not about Offender No. 89148, I have opted to grant a reprieve and not clemency in this case."
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Maryland has become the 18th state to ban the death penalty since 1976.
What happens to the five inmates on Maryland's death row?? The Guardian explains it's an unknown as yet.
Other states repealing the death penalty in the recent years: Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York.
Colorado legislators will be debating a bill to repeal the death penalty very soon. [More...]
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This is how Indonesia carries out its death penalty:
The death penalty is carried out in Indonesia by firing squad, normally in the middle of the night in a remote place, illuminated by flood lights. The public are not allowed to witness executions.
Members of the police force’s elite Brimob paramilitary brigade make up firing squads. They consist of 12 armed soldiers however only three of them actually have live rounds in their weapons – the rest have blanks. Nobody knows who has the live rounds and who has the blanks. This is to ease the conscience of the firing squad and so that no-one knows who fired the killer shot.
The condemned person is tied to a wooden cross or post and the spot of their heart is illuminated on a vest they wear to guide the firing squad. The prisoner can elect to wear a hood or not and can have a religious person present until the last moments.
113 people were sentenced to death in Indonesia in 2012. (This study says 114 are on death row.)1At least 8 will be executed in 2013. 40 of those on death row are foreigners 5 foreigners have been executed for drugs.). Some inmates have taken 7 minutes to die after being shot. They lay there screaming in pain, according to witnesses. [More..]
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Al Jazeera has an article today about the "debate" over Singapore's change two weeks ago in its mandatory death penalty law for drugs and murder. The South China Post reports on Asia's shift against the death penalty.
First, Singapore's change in drug cases is de minimus. It applies only to couriers who agree to become snitches and those who with mental abnormalities.
Couriers who rat out bigger fish can apply for a "certificate of cooperation" from the prosecution. Since most couriers don't know anything about the larger organization, this is just a license to make things up. If the authorities suspect person X of being a big trafficker, and ask a courier to confirm their suspicion, what courier is going to admit "I don't know" when that answer means the gallows.
The mental exemption applies only to those "suffering from such an abnormality of mind that it substantially impaired his mental responsibility for committing the offence".
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Justin Wolfe has been on death row in Virginia since 2002 for killing a fellow drug dealer. He was convicted based upon testimony of the shooter, Owen Barber, that Wolfe had hired him to kill the dealer. Barber later recanted and said he made that up to avoid the death penalty. His affidavit is here.
In 2010, Barber testified at Wolfe's federal habeas hearing that he fabricated Wolfe's involvement to avoid the death penalty. (He was sentenced to 60 years.) In 2011, the federal court vacated Wolfe's conviction and sentence finding he was wrongfully convicted based on the prosecution's withholding of critical evidence. Virginia appealed.
Today the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's order vacating Wolfe's conviction and sentence, finding no error in the district court's findings. Virginia says it is disappointed and most likely will retry Wolfe. [More...]
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Here's one the reasons Mark Geragos argued to the jury in the Scott Peterson death penalty trial that it should return a verdict of life without parole instead of death. The full transcript is here.Prison is an awful, awful place. Scott Peterson, if you vote to spare his life, will be placed into a cell that is roughly the size of a king size bed. Roughly encompasses you four jurors right here. That's the size of his cell. And he would be in that cell roughly the size of a king size bed for the rest of his life. He will die in that cell.
Scott Peterson in that cell will have a bed to lay on, and he will have a cold metal toilet, and he will share that cell with a friend. That friend will be his cellmate. That may change.
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Scott Peterson was convicted 8 years ago of murdering his pregnant wife Laci. He was sentenced to death and has been incarcerated since then at Death Row on San Quentin.
Today his attorney filed his first appeal with the California Supreme Court. His brief is 423 pages.
TalkLeft has covered his case since 2003. If you want a refresher, all of our 130 posts are accessible here.
Some of the jurors held a press conference after the verdict, discussing among other things, why they ousted their jury foreman. The San Francisco Chronicle had this feature on life on death row at San Quentin in 2004. People Magazine a few weeks ago, in a feature on how several high-profile defendants over the past decades are doing in prison, reported Scott spends a lot of time doing Yoga and working on his appeal.
In 2004, the LA Times did a feature on the cost of the death penalty versus life imprisonment. One estimate was that it costs California taxpayers $90 million more a year to incarcerate death row inmates than those serving life without parole. There were 641 death row inmates in California at the time. There are now 725.[More...]
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Edward Norris Myatt is 54 years old, originally from Ballarat in Victoria, Queensland Australia. He's been living in England in recent years, working as a construction worker and selling jewelry. (There's a Myatt Jewelers in Victoria, I have no idea if they are connected.)
I think the pictures tell the story.
Here's the sign that hangs in Bali's airport:
Myatt gets stopped at the airport, they suspect he has swallowed pills, so they arrest him and take him to the hospital where he spends three days, waiting to expel 72 capsules. Then they do their perp walk for the media. (Video here.) Not only does he have to wear an orange shirt, the shirt announces he's a prisoner. ("Pelaku")[More...]
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In 2009, North Carolina enacted the Racial Justice Act which requires a judge to convert a death sentence to life in prison without parole if it is later shown that race played a significant role in the conviction or sentence. To make the showing, the Act permits the introduction of statistical evidence.
The defendant doesn't have to prove race caused the verdict, only that it played a significant role, meaning:
...that race weighed heavily in prosecutors' and jurors' decisions concerning the death penalty "in the county, the prosecutorial district, the judicial division, or the State at the time the death sentence was sought or imposed."
Closing arguments concluded yesterday in the first hearing under the Act, which has taken 2 1/2 weeks. The case involves Marcus Reymond Robinson, an African American, who was sentenced to death for killing a 17 year old white man. He is challenging his conviction and sentence, arguing there was racial bias in jury selection and in the criminal justice system.[More...]
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The Pew Research Center has released a new poll on the death penalty.
62% favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder while 31% are opposed. That is generally in line with polling on the death penalty over the past several years.
Of those who responded they oppose the death penalty, 27% said it's wrong or immoral and 27% said they were concerned about wrongful convictions. In the poll 20 years ago, 41% of those opposed based their objections on moral grounds and 11% of them objected due to the potential injustice of a wrongful conviction.
The reasons for those supporting the death penalty haven't changed in 20 years: [More...]
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The Death Penalty Information Center has released its year-end report. In 2011, less than 100 fewer death sentences were imposed, the lowest number since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.
The number of new death sentences imposed in 2011 stands at 78, a decline of about 75% since 1996, when 315 inmates were sentenced to death. This is the lowest number of death sentences in any year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Texas, which had 48 new death sentences in 1999, had only 8 this year.
The number of U.S. executions also declined. "There were 43 executions in 13 states, a 56% decline since 1999, when there were 98."
34 states still authorize the death penalty. According to the 2011 Gallup Poll, only 61% of Americans now support the death penalty, compared to 80% in 1994.
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Ohio Governor John Kasich has followed the recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board commuted the death sentence of Joseph Murphy to life without parole. The issue: "childhood growing up in West Virginia in which he was beaten, starved and sexually abused."
Joseph Murphy’s murder of Ruth Predmore was heinous and disturbing and he deserves—and continues to receive—severe punishment. Even though as a child and adolescent Murphy suffered uniquely severe and sustained verbal, physical and sexual abuse from those who should have loved him, it does not excuse his crime. However, the Ohio Supreme Court split 4-3 on whether Murphy should receive the death penalty and the late Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, in his dissent against the death penalty in this case, said that 'in all of the death penalty cases I have reviewed, I know of no other case in which the defendant ... was as destined for disaster as was Joseph Murphy.'"
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