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Tag: Death Penalty

AZ Inmate Given 15 x Recommended Drug Dosages

Records released in Arizona's botched 2 hour execution show inmate Joseph Wood was injected with 15 times the amount of lethal injection drugs called for by Arizona's death protocol.

“The Arizona execution protocol explicitly states that a prisoner will be executed using 50 milligrams of hydromorphone and 50 milligrams of midazolam,” Dale A. Baich, one of the lawyers who represented Mr. Wood, said in a statement.

...Mr. Wood was injected with 750 milligrams of hydromorphone and 750 milligrams of midazolam in all.

It was expected that Wood would be dead in 10 minutes. It took almost 2 hours. [More...]

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Federal Judge Rules CA Death Penalty Unconstitutional

A federal judge in California has ruled California's death penalty system is unconstitutional. He says a death sentence in California is nothing but a penalty of "life with the remote possibility of death." The opinion is here. Since the penalty is so rarely carried out (no one has been executed since 2006), "the death penalty is about as effective a deterrent to capital crime as ther /> possibility of a lightning strike is to going outside in the rain."

This is a problem that has festered in California for years. A major problem, as the judge notes in yesterday's opinion, is California's refusal to adequately fund lawyers. While many media articles briefly mention this, it is a significant part of the judge's decision. [More...]

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Pew Report: Support for Death Penalty Decreases to Lowest Level

A new Pew Report shows support for the death penalty for convicted murderers has dropped to 55%, the lowest level since the 1970's. Among the reasons:

...a steep drop in the incidence of violent crime, and greater attention to wrongful convictions, which has led to more than 1,300 convicts being exonerated through DNA evidence, revelations of faulty forensic work, or other means. (Recent reports of prolonged executions and the difficulties many states have had in procuring drugs for lethal injections also may be factors in shifting public opinion.)

Since 1973, the U.S. has executed 1,373 people. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 1,339 people have been exonerated since 1989, 106 of whom were sentenced to death. Only 1/3 of the exonerations involved DNA evidence.

All but two of the executions were at the state level. The highest number of executions: Texas, with 512. After that: Virginia and Oklahoma (110 each), and then Florida, Missouri and Alabama.

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Washington Governor Suspends 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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Ohio Inmate Kills Himself Days Before Execution

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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Federal Jury in NY Returns Death Verdict

(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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Gov. Hickenlooper Grants "Reprieve" from Death Penalty to Nathan Dunlap

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."

The Governor's press release is here. The Executive Order granting the reprieve is here. [More...]

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Maryland Bans the Death Penalty, Colorado Could be Next

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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Execution, Indonesian Style: Tied to a Wooden Cross and Shot

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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Singapore's Death Penalty Change: Life Plus Caning

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".

Second, it's not just life in prison if they avoid the death penalty, but life plus caning -- up to 15 lashes. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean: [More..]

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4th Cir. Affirms Overturning Death Sentence for Prosecutorial Witholding of Evidence

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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Life Without Parole vs. Death

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 Appeals Death Sentence

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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Bali Snares Another Aussie Drug Courier, Death Penalty Looms

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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NC Trial Addresses Racism in Application of Death Penalty

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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