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Showing posts from May, 2008

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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Iran hangs two for family feud

May 27, 2008: Iran hanged two people for killing close relatives, the Fars news agency reported.

A man, R.A., convicted of fatally shooting his two brothers and the wife of his brother two years ago was hanged in the northern city of Babol. He was executed in a police station in the city, the report said, adding that the shooting broke out over an inheritance feud.

Meanwhile, a man was hanged in the northern city of Ardebil for murdering his wife. The execution was carried out by the victim's family in Ardebil's central prison.

Sources: Agence France Presse, 27/05/2008

Georgia has scheduled the execution of Curtis Osborne

On June 4, Georgia has scheduled the execution of Curtis Osborne. Osborne's own defense lawyer at trial was racially biased against him and failed to do the most basic investigation that might have saved his client's life. The attorney repeatedly referred to Osborne with a racial epithet, saying, "that little n____r deserves the chair."

At the time of the murder that sent Osborne to death row, he was suffering from mental problems and his family had a history of mental illness going back for 3 generations. However, Osborne's attorney failed to raise this issue.

Law enforcement officials and religious leaders who have come to know Curtis Osborne have noted his complete remorse for the crime and the dramatic changes in his life while on death row. His story is recounted in a video prepared by his current defense attorneys. (Posted May 28, 2008).

View the video with Windows Media Player. View the video in QuickTime.

Former President Jimmy Carter has expre…

U.S.: Majority of Voters Claim Presidential Candidate Opinion on the Death Penalty is ‘Very Important’

According to a new IFC poll, there is overwhelming support for the death penalty across political parties, with the majority of voters claiming that Presidential candidate opinion on the death penalty is "very important." Additionally, only 12% of Americans felt the death penalty would be abolished in the US in the near future. Here is a link to the poll results.

Also, IFC will premiere the original documentary At the Death House Door tomorrow, which will provide viewers with an intimate look at the death penalty in Texas. We also have the trailer/clips from At The Death House Door available for posting. The New York Times did a story on At the Death House Door.

New York, NY – May 27, 2008 – On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of lethal injection (Baze v. Rees), IFC and E-Poll Market Research announced today the results of a new independent poll examining American voters’ attitudes towards the death penalty, and the significance of the…

Tennessee: State to Retry Inmate

The Union County district attorney said the county would meet a federal judge’s deadline for a new trial in the case of a death row inmate whose trial was questioned by the United States Supreme Court. The state is facing a June 17 deadline to retry or free the inmate, Paul House, who has been in limbo since June 2006, when the Supreme Court concluded that reasonable jurors would not have convicted him had they seen the results of DNA tests from the 1990s. The district attorney, Paul Phillips, said he would not seek the death penalty. Mr. House, 46, who has multiple sclerosis and must use a wheelchair, was sentenced in the 1985 killing of Carolyn Muncey. He has been in a state prison since 1986 and continues to maintain his innocence.

Source: The New York Times

Man with multiple sclerosis on death row despite Court ruling

CROSSVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Multiple sclerosis has Paul House in a wheelchair. A tenacious prosecutor has him on death row, deemed too dangerous to be released two years after the U.S. Supreme Court said he likely isn't guilty.

That closely watched ruling, which made it easier for inmates to get new hearings on DNA evidence that emerges after their trials, and the fallout from it have left House in limbo while a prosecutor methodically battles every effort from the courts to have him retried.

Federal judges have done as the high court ordered: They reviewed his murder case and concluded new evidence raises reasonable doubt about his guilt. Not allowed to overturn the conviction, they took the extraordinary step of giving Tennessee a six-month deadline to bring House to trial or release him.

And still House, 46, is locked up in a Nashville prison.

Read more>>>

Attorneys seek clemency for condemned killer

Associated Press - May 27, 2008 7:25 PM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Attorneys for a man sentenced to death for the 1995 killing of a Japanese student in Oklahoma City will make their final attempt tomorrow to save their client's life.

Terry Lyn Short is scheduled to die by lethal injection on June 17th for the January 1995 killing of 22-year-old Ken Yamamoto, who died after Short threw a firebomb into the apartment of his ex-girlfriend, who lived below Yamamoto.

The five-member Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is expected to hear from the 47-year-old Short via video link from death row at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Oklahoma City attorney Jim Rowan, who represented Short at trial, says Short has no other legal appeals taking place.

The clemency board will listen to presentations from Short's attorneys, the attorney general's office and anyone representing the victim, then decide whether to recommend clemency to Gov. Brad Henry.

The governor will make the final deci…

Man hanged for murder 86 years ago pardoned

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SYDNEY, Australia - An Australian governor gave a posthumous pardon Tuesday to a man hanged 86 years ago for the rape and murder of a young girl, after new research discredited the evidence used for his conviction.

Colin Campbell Ross, who was hanged in 1922 at the age of 28, was pardoned Tuesday by Victoria state Gov. David de Kretser.

Descendants of Ross and the 12-year-old victim, Alma Tirtschke, petitioned for the pardon.

Prosecutors alleged that Ross, who ran a wine saloon in Melbourne, gave Tirschke alcohol before raping and strangling her on New Year's Eve 1921. The only physical evidence connecting him to the crime were hairs on a blanket; prosecutors said the hairs were Tirtschke's.

While witnesses gave alibis for Ross, he was convicted and hanged four months later, protesting his innocence.

The pardon petition built on research by Kevin Morgan, who wrote a book about the case called "Gun Alley (Murder, Lies and the Failure of Justice)." Morgan arranged for foren…

Virginia death row inmate executed

A man whose lawyers claimed he was mentally disabled became Virginia's first execution since 2006.

31-year-old Kevin Green of Broadnax was pronounced dead at 10:05 tonight (5/27) at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.

Green died by injection for the August 1998 slaying of Brunswick County convenience store owner Particia Vaughan.

Green's execution was delayed by an hour when his attorneys attempted to get a federal judge to step in after governor Tim Kaine and the US Supreme Court refused to intervene.

Source: WHSV.com

More fears about executing the innocent

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (AP) -- A call from death row inmate Terry Lyn Short interrupted a meeting in the office of his attorney, James Rowan.

Short wanted a promise that, after he is put to death next month, he won't end up in a pauper's grave in the cemetery that contains the bodies of many of those hanged, electrocuted and lethally injected at the 100-year-old Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Rowan told his 47-year-old client not to be concerned about that. "It's not going to cost you anything, so don't worry about it. That's the least of your worries," he said.

What worries Rowan and other defense attorneys is the possibility that an innocent man could be executed now that the nation's death-row machine is gearing up again following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection.

They point to past death sentences of men who were later exonerated, blaming ineffective lawyers, overzealous prosecutors and shoddy evidence…

His Life With the Deaths That the State Carried Out

A lonely field of concrete crosses, engraved with dates and numbers and surrounded by weeds, is the first thing a viewer sees in the film “At the Death House Door.” Some of the graves in that field belong to inmates who were executed by the state at the prison in Huntsville, Tex.

Walking tenderly among those crosses is the Rev. Carroll Pickett, the laconic, soft-spoken prison chaplain for 15 years and witness to 95 executions. The documentary, which will be shown Thursday night on the Independent Film Channel, reveals that Mr. Pickett, a 74-year-old Presbyterian minister, was anguished by his job, and that he finally concluded that the death penalty served neither justice nor morality. He says he believes that some of the men he helped lead to death were innocent.

“After each execution I made a tape on everybody that I walked with to the death chamber,” Mr. Pickett says early in the film as the camera trains on his office, full of boxes of cassette tapes. “I knew I had to talk to somebo…

Virginia set to execute killer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Barring intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court or Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a man will be executed Tuesday for killing a convenience store owner in 1998.

Kevin Green, 31, would be the first person executed in Virginia since 2006 and the third inmate to die since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection in April. Georgia became the first to execute an inmate May 6, ending a seven-month refrain on capital punishment nationwide.

Green's attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution while it considers reviewing the case. They claim the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals erred when it ruled in February that he had passed the statute of limitations for claiming ineffective counsel.

Attorneys for Green also have asked the governor to grant clemency, claiming Green is mentally retarded.

Read more>>>

Source:WTOPNEWS.com

Ga. parole board commutes killer's death sentence

ATLANTA - The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles commuted the death sentence of a convicted killer about two hours before his scheduled execution.

The board did not explain its decision Thursday to commute Samuel David Crowe's sentence to life without parole.

He pleaded guilty to the 1988 killing of lumber store manager Joseph Pala, who was shot, beaten with a crowbar and struck with a can of white paint that spilled on his face.

Douglas County District Attorney David McDade said Pala's family was upset by the decision.

The 47-year-old Crowe would have become the third inmate to die since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection. Georgia's May 6 execution of William Earl Lynd ended a seven-month halt on capital punishment. (The Associated Press)

Source: examiner.com

Condemned Georgia man pleads for clemency

ATLANTA (Map, News) - Lawyers for condemned death row inmate Samuel David Crowe launched a final bid Thursday to spare his life, hours before he was set to die by lethal injection.

Crowe's lawyer, Ann Fort, pleaded his case to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles Thursday morning. He is scheduled to die at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson, 45 miles south of Atlanta.

If the execution takes place, Crowe will become the third inmate to die since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the most common method of lethal injection. Georgia's May 6 execution of William Earl Lynd ended a seven-month halt on executions across the country, and Mississippi executed an inmate Wednesday night.

His lawyers also have asked the Georgia Supreme Court for a stay of execution and have filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in case the Georgia justices deny his appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Crowe's last appeal in April.

Crowe was sentenced to die after pleading…

Mississippi: Convicted killer executed

Convicted killer Earl Wesley Berry was executed at 6 p.m. in Unit 17 of Parchman.

A lethal cocktail of drugs was injected into Berry's arm while his victim's daughter and granddaughter, corrections officials and members of the media watched. No one from his family was present.

Berry was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m.

Just hours before his execution, Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps described Berry as somber and serious, realizing his death was imminent and giving up hope that the U.S. Supreme Court was going to grant either of his last-minute appeals.

"I used to be his case manager. So, I've been knowing him for a while," Epps said. "He's pretty serious now. He's not grinning like he was in October."

The U.S. Supreme Court denied both Berry's appeals of his execution earlier this afternoon.

Berry, 49, was convicted in 1988 of beating 56-year-old Mary Bounds to death and leaving her body in a wooded area of Chickasaw Cou…

Virginia: Execution Alert

On May 27th, yet another execution is scheduled to occur in Virginia. If the scheduled execution of Kevin Green takes place that day, it would be the 99th in our Commonwealth since 1976 (second only to Texas). With executions proceeding at an alarming rate in our state (an additional one is scheduled for June 10th), the Virginia bishops continue their appeal to end the use of the death penalty. They are joined by the U.S. bishops and the Vatican (whose regular practice is to send Governors across the U.S. commutation requests via the Papal Nuncio). Kevin Green's case also presents an additional concern. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute someone who is "mentally retarded," and significant evidence suggests that Mr. Green does indeed have an intellectual disability. Although courts have concluded that he is not mentally retarded, the court that took the closest look at his mental retardation claim found it "an extremely …

UNITED KINGDOM. GAY STUDENT WHO FACED EXECUTION IN IRAN GRANTED ASYLUM

May 19, 2008: a gay man who faces the death penalty in Iran won asylum in the UK after protests prompted the Home Secretary to reconsider his case.

Family and supporters of Mehdi Kazemi, now 20, welcomed the decision not to send him back to Iran where his boyfriend was arrested by the state police and executed for sodomy.

Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Southwark and Bermondsey, said: "I am delighted by the Home Office decision that my constituent Mehdi Kazemi can now stay in this country. This is great news for a very decent guy."

Mr Kazemi came to London to study in 2005, but in April 2006 discovered his gay partner had been arrested and named him as his boyfriend before his execution. Fearing he might suffer the same fate if he returned, Mr Kazemi decided to seek asylum in Britain.

His claim was refused and he fled to the Netherlands where he also failed to win asylum before returning to Britain last month. The UK Border Agency said it had decided to allow him…

CHINA. GOVERNMENT: DEATH PENALTY FOR BUILDERS WHO CUT CORNERS

May 18, 2008: the Chinese government said it will impose the death penalty on anyone who is found responsible for the shoddy construction of the nearly 7,000 schools that collapsed in the recent earthquake.

Two-hundred thousand buildings were destroyed as a result of the 7.9 magnitude quake. There is reportedly huge anger over the collapse of so many buildings, particularly schools, while other buildings remained standing. Many are questioning the soundness of the structures, and wonder whether the strictest regulations were followed in their construction. Authorities are not yet sure what caused so many buildings to buckle so easily.

Reports say it could be faulty design or the buildings could have been poorly built using cheap materials. Other possibilities are that the buildings could have been old, or built before seismic codes were enacted.

Sources: Agence France Presse, 18/05/2008

IRAN. AFGHAN NATIONAL HANGED FOR MURDER

May 20, 2008: Iran hanged an Afghan national convicted of murdering a woman in a prison in the central city of Isfahan, the Fars news agency reported.

The 35 year old man identified only as Reza A stabbed the woman 47 times in the May 2006 attack. He worked as a janitor in the building where the victim was a doctor's secretary.

He allegedly confessed to the premeditated murder of the woman, whom he had known for 14 years but with whom he had a financial dispute.

Source: Agence France Presse, 20/05/2008


IRAQ. CHURCH OPPOSES DEATH PENALTY FOR ARCHBISHOP'S KILLER

May 19, 2008: the Archbishop of Kirkuk, Louis Sako, said that the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq opposed the death penalty passed by an Iraqi court on the convicted killer of an archbishop in Mosul.

"This conviction does not meet Christian values." We are not satisfied with this decision because the church is against the death penalty." Archbishop Sako said the death sentence against a suspect "will also not help improve the situation" in Iraq which is plagued by sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites in addition to attacks against religious minorities.

He said the church had no details about the trial or the accused nor was it aware of the motives of the killers. It learnt about the sentencing from television.
"The announcement of the government gave very little detail. We do not know any of those responsible. We don't know why the archbishop was kidnapped, whether it was due to political, religious or criminal intentions," he said.

Sources…

AFGHANISTAN. REPORTER FACING DEATH SENTENCE DENIES BLASPHEMY

May 18, 2008: an Afghan journalist sentenced to death on blasphemy charges pleaded not guilty during his appeal hearing that started in the capital Kabul.

The court hearing Parwiz Kambakhsh's appeal gave him until next Sunday to present his defence statement against the primary provincial court's ruling. "The court gives you one week to prepare your defence," Abdul Salam Qazizada, the appeal judge said.
Kambakhsh said he would be represented at his next hearing by a lawyer. He also told the judge that his first trial was "unjust" because he was given only three minutes to defend himself.

The 23-year-old journalist denied the charges, saying: "I'm a Muslim and will never allow myself to insult my religion."

Kambakhsh, who read out verses from the Koran, added: "I was forced to sign the allegation papers. I was tortured (by security forces) and had no other choice to accept the allegations."

Source: Agence France Presse, 18/05/2008

SAUDI ARABIA BEHEADS BANGLADESHI CONVICTED OF MURDER

May 17, 2008: Saudi authorities beheaded a Bangladeshi man convicted of killing a Saudi citizen over a money dispute.

Juman Hussein Jalal-aldeen was found guilty of killing Yahyah bin Awadh Al-Mohammad by slashing his throat.

He hid the corpse in a ranch, according to an Interior Ministry statement carried by the official state news agency, SPA.

Source: International Herald Tribune, 17/05/2008

Mississippi Preparing to Execute Man Despite Strong Evidence of Mental Retardation

Earl Berry is scheduled to be executed on May 21 in Mississippi, despite evidence that he has mental retardation. Judicial review of this evidence has been denied because his former lawyers failed to file the evidence in a timely fashion.

This would be the second execution since the U.S. Supreme Court approved Kentucky's method of lethal injection on April 16. Last month, a psychologist concluded that Berry had an IQ of 75 or below and “significantly sub-average intellectual functioning and … meets the criteria to be classified as mentally retarded.” The U.S. Supreme Court banned execution of those with mental retardation in Atkins v. Virginia (2002).

Affidavits describe Berry’s slow development, head injuries sustained as a child, multiple suicide attempts, and that, even as an adult, he was never able to live independently. When Berry was discharged from a Mississippi prison hospital at 25, his release followed a suicide attempt and he was diagnosed with “suicidal gestures/mentall…

A Supreme Court Boost for Suicide?

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When the Supreme Court ruled last month that lethal injection didn't constitute cruel and unusual punishment, there was rejoicing from a peculiar interest group: death row inmates who have been trying to get the state to kill them quickly.

Many legal observers saw the court's decision as a victory for those who see the death penalty appeals process as a seemingly endless and cynical abuse of the system. (Death row appeals had been taking an average of approximately 12 years even before the seven-month national moratorium on executions preceding the decision.) But it was also a victory for that subset of prisoners who have waived all their appeals, fired their lawyers and written letters to governors begging for an execution date. These "volunteers" constitute 11% of executions nationwide, and will continue to dominate both the headlines and the execution schedules (8 of the last 16 executions in Florida have been volunteers) long after this ruling. Volunteers are a b…

Upcoming executions in the U.S.

Click here to find out about the upcoming executions in the U.S. on the Death Penalty Information Center Website.

An appeal from friends of David Crowe

Samuel David Crowe needs your help. David is a man who is beloved by friends all over the world. He is a kind man of deep faith and strong convictions. He is a gifted musician and was an active leader in his church. And yet David took a human life and was sentenced to die. He has been living on death row in Georgia for more than 18 years. David takes full responsibility for his crime and experiences profound remorse. It was a radical and tragic departure from the life he lived before, as a peaceful and highly regarded member of his community, and the life he has built afterwards, with an exemplary prison record.

David now has a pending execution date set by the State of Georgia. We hope that you will join other friends and supporters in asking the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles – which has the power to save David’s life – to grant him mercy.

Take action

Executions in China: Holding a torch up to human rights

Human rights organisations have reported that China has been cracking down even further on dissent in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics. As well as increasing censorship and the use of torture and extra-judicial detention, China continues to execute more prisoners than the rest of the world combined. An estimated four hundred people will be executed in China during the Olympic Games.

Source: Australians Against Capital Punishment

Man convicted in shooting death of deputy gets death penalty

A man convicted of killing an East Texas deputy in a shootout that claimed 2 law enforcement officers was sentenced to death Tuesday.

Randall Wayne Mays, 48, was sentenced by the same jury that convicted him Friday on a capital murder charge. His brother, Noble Mays Jr., was executed in 1995 for the fatal stabbing of a Good Samaritan who agreed to help him with a disabled car.

Henderson County sheriff's deputies Tony Price Ogburn and Paul Steven Habelt died and a third deputy was injured last May in a shootout at Mays'house in Payne Springs, about 50 miles southeast of Dallas.

They were responding to a domestic disturbance call made by a neighbor who reported hearing gunshots on Mays' property. After appearing to cooperate with the deputies, Mays barricaded himself inside his house, where he used a high-powered rifle to shoot at officers.

Mays was convicted in Ogburn's death.

"Sadly, we lost two of Texas' finest on that awful day," state Attorney General Greg …

Indonesia set to execute drug smugglers

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Indonesian authorities are making final preparations to execute by firing squad of two convicted drug traffickers, an official said today.

"We are currently preparing the execution of two people who have been sentenced to death for drug offences," attorney general's office spokesman Bonaventura Daulat Nainggolan told AFP.

He declined to name the two but said they had exhausted all avenues of appeal and their demand for clemency had been rejected by the president.

Records show that two Thai nationals have had their appeals and demands for clemency rejected.

The man and woman have been on death row in Medan since 1994 for smuggling 12kg of heroin into the country.

There are 57 people on death row in Indonesia over drug law violations, Nainggolan said.

Among them are at least 27 foreigners, including three Australians who were members of the failed Bali Nine heroin smuggling ring.

The last person to be executed for a drug offence in Indonesia was an Indian national in 2004.

Executi…

Child-killer hopes for execution as lawyers appeal

EDDYVILLE, Kentucky (AP) -- Marco Allen Chapman is ready to die.

After more than three years of waiting for courts to consider an appeal he never wanted, the death row inmate may soon get his wish and become the first person executed in Kentucky since 1999.

"I'm willing to accept the consequences for the crime I committed," Chapman said in a recent interview, his first since pleading guilty to the 2002 stabbing deaths of two children after a two-day crack binge.

Several states are moving swiftly forward on death penalty cases after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling on a different Kentucky case, upheld the widely used three-drug method of lethal injection.

This week, Georgia became the first to execute an inmate after the seven-month hiatus. Condemned inmates in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas also had dates set for their lethal injections.

Chapman's execution hasn't been scheduled, but prosecutors will be aided by the fact that he waived his right to a …

Sniper Reverses Stance on Appeal

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — The convicted sniper John A. Muhammad has changed his mind again and now wants to go forward with a federal appeal of his conviction and death sentence, his lawyers have said.

In a letter from death row made public this week, Mr. Muhammad told the Virginia attorney general that he wanted to suspend all appeals on his 2003 death sentence and that appeals filed on his behalf were not authorized. But Mr. Muhammad’s lawyer James Connell wrote on Thursday to a United States district judge saying Mr. Muhammad now wanted to proceed with his appeal.

“Mr. Muhammad expressly authorized me to represent that (1) he does not wish to be executed; (2) he does not wish to abandon the (appeals) process; and (3) he does not wish to discharge his legal team,” Mr. Connell wrote.

Katherine Baldwin, a senior assistant attorney general who represents Virginia, said Friday that she accepted Mr. Connell’s representation and that she saw no reason to take action based on Mr. Muhammad’s earlier …

SAUDI ARABIA. MAN BEHEADED FOR MURDER IN ARAR

May 11, 2008: a Saudi Arabian national was beheaded by the sword after being convicted of killing a compatriot. Eid bin Hajmahuj al-Shimari was found guilty of shooting dead Ghoneim bin Shoshan al-Shimari with a machine-gun, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the SPA state news agency.

He was executed in the northern town of Arar near the border with Iraq.

Sources: Agence France Presse, 11/05/2008

IRAN. FIVE CONVICTED SEX MURDERERS HANGED

May 12, 2008: Iran hanged five men convicted of burning a young woman alive after raping her, at a prison in the central city of Qom, the government newspaper Iran reported.

The five men identified only as Morteza, 21, Hadi, 24, Javad, 24, Hossein, 19 and Mehdi, 24, were sent to the gallows after being found guilty of the woman's abduction, rape and murder, the paper said.

The victim, who was identified only as Narges, was a newly wed, it added.

"We, together with eight friends, kidnapped and raped her... and then we burned her with petrol while she was still alive to make it impossible to identify her," the paper quoted the two main defendants in the case as saying in a joint confession.

The five men were also found guilty of raping several boys, convictions for which they were sentenced to be thrown off a cliff.

That punishment is prescribed by Iran's Islamic penal code for men raping members of their own sex but there have been few reports of its use.

Five other men hav…

Gregory Wright

Gregory Wright is on Death Row, Texas, awaiting an execution date and responses to his final appeals for a retrial. He has been on Death Row for 10 years. Full details can be found at: Click here for our website

Click here to sign the petition for Gregory Wright to receive the opportunity for a retrial and commutation of the death sentence.

Autopsy Reports Expose Cruelty of Lethal Injection

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It's the stuff of nightmares, and the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment: A prisoner remaining aware, but paralyzed and unable to speak, while a deadly, caustic drug flows through his veins.
This could be the reality of execution in the United States. Lethal injections, the preferred method of execution in every state but Nevada , use three drugs: sodium thiopental, a surgical anesthetic, followed by the paralytic drug pancuronium bromide, and finally potassium chloride, which stops the heart and causes death.
A medical journal's review of autopsy reports in 49 executions by lethal injection in Texas and Virginia showed that 43 had critically low levels of anesthetic in their bloodstreams, and 21 had so little that they were likely conscious throughout the painful process of stopping their heart.
This is unwelcome news to death-penalty supporters, but no surprise to those familiar with the history of lethal injection. It's a procedure that's frequently botche…

First state sponsored murder in 7 months...

It is over… the moratorium that left the USwithout any state and federal murders for seven months ended with the death of 53 year old William Earl Lynd. The state of Georgiamurdered this man with the, by now, controversial lethal injection method. Remember folks, that method that is outlawed in a couple of states to euthanize animals… Since the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken in favor of the lethal injection method, ruling that it is not cruel and unusual, many states have immediately set execution dates. Apparently these states couldn’t wait to still their hunger for revenge and murder, taking immediate action to fill their gurney’s as fast as possible. William Earl Lynd spent 20 years of his life in prison, on death row, which can be considered a man made hell. In many countries, with some more humane and liberal thoughts on dealing with criminals, this man would have served most of his sentence. He might even rehabilitated back into society, given a chance to proof he’s…

BROADCAST OF EXECUTION FORCES JAPAN TO DEBATE DEATH PENALTY

May 6, 2008: the broadcast of the execution of a man more than 50 years ago is the first time most Japanese have been confronted by the grim reality of their country's use of the death penalty.

Campaigners hope the documentary, aired by Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, will strengthen calls for Japan to abolish capital punishment.

The station defended its decision to air the execution amid accusations that it had invaded the man's privacy in his final, desperate moments alive. "We aren't trying to make a statement for or against the death penalty," a spokesman told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

"Our only intention is to present the reality of executions and let our listeners decide for themselves." Others welcomed the broadcast for giving an unprecedented insight into Japan's secretive and, critics say, peculiarly inhumane use of capital punishment.

"If the justice ministry masks the reality, then it is up to the media to expose it," the filmmaker…

IRAN DELAYS YOUNG MAN'S EXECUTION AFTER EU APPEAL

May 6, 2008: Iran's judiciary ordered a month's postponement of the execution of a young man sentenced to death for murder, a news agency said, two days after the European Union urged Tehran to spare his life.

Amnesty International said the execution of Behnoud Shojai, who the rights group said was 17 at the time of the crime three years ago, was planned for May 7. Iran's Fars News Agency did not mention the EU statement in its report, quoting a deputy public prosecutor in Tehran as saying the execution was postponed with the agreement of the victim's family.

Under Iran's Islamic law, sharia, the family of the victim can agree to pardon the murderer in exchange for "blood money", or financial compensation, but it was not clear whether this may happen in this case.

Source: Reuters, 06/05/2008

D.C. sniper: 'Murder this innocent Black man'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- John Allen Muhammad, who is on Virginia's death row in connection with the 2002 Washington-area sniper spree, has written to Virginia prosecutors saying he wants to waive all rights to appeal.

In the letter dated April 23, Muhammad professes his innocence, but says he wants to waive appeals so the state "can murder this innocent Black man."

Muhammad's court-appointed attorney, contacted Tuesday, declined to characterize the letter. But attorney James Connell said he had just met with Muhammad and "when I left him today at 3 o'clock, he did not want to be executed."

Muhammad, now 47, was sentenced to death for killing Dean Harold Meyers as Meyers refueled his car at a Manassas, Virginia, gas station. Following that conviction, Muhammad was also tried and sentenced to death in Maryland for six additional sniper-related murders.

His accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 during the spree, was also convicted of murder but was sentenced to li…

Georgia killer executed after lethal injection moratorium

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A Georgia man convicted of kidnapping and killing his girlfriend was executed Tuesday.

William Earl Lynd was the first inmate to die by injection since September, when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the three-drug combination represented cruel and unusual punishment.

The process began at 7:34 p.m. and ended 17 minutes later at 7:51 p.m., said Paul Czachowski, public affairs manager for the Georgia Department of Corrections. "The condemned declined to make a last statement or accept a prayer; he remained quiet and calm throughout the whole procedure," he said.

Lynd, 53, had requested as his last meal two pepper jack BBQ burgers with crisp onions, two baked potatoes with sour cream, bacon and cheese and a large strawberry milkshake -- all from a local restaurant.

The U.S. Supreme Court had refused to stay Lynd's execution hours earlier Tuesday.

"The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice [Cla…

The Death Penalty Returns

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Roughly 15 death row prisoners are scheduled to be put to death between now and October, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. This flood of executions is the result of the Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld the constitutionality of a troubling form of lethal injection. The next few months, as states put their machinery of death into overdrive, are an ideal time for the nation to rethink its commitment to capital punishment.

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld Kentucky’s method of lethal injection. Although there was convincing evidence that the three drugs that Kentucky injects can cause excruciating pain and that there are not proper safeguards to avoid needless suffering, the court ruled that it does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

After the court accepted the case last fall, many states halted executions. Now, the Death Penalty Information Center projects that by the end of the year, there could be 50 to 60 executions, wh…

Virginia: Sniper Asks to Stop Appeals

John A. Muhammad, who was convicted in the Washington-area sniper attacks of 2002, wrote a letter to prosecutors asking for help in putting an end to his legal appeals from death row.

Mr. Muhammad said in the letter that he was waiving all rights to appeal his 2003 conviction and death sentence. “I’ve written to you all because I know you will make sure this letter will get to the right people — so that you can murder this innocent black man,” he wrote in the letter, dated April 23.

He said that he had informed his appeals lawyers of his desires and that any appeals they had filed had “been done against mine will.” Mr. Muhammad’s appellate lawyer, Jonathan Sheldon, declined to comment.

Source: The New York Times

Georgia killer executed after seven month moratorium

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A Georgia man convicted of kidnapping and killing his girlfriend was executed Tuesday.

William Earl Lynd was the first inmate to die by lethal injection since September when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injections. The method was challenged as being cruel and unusual for causing undue pain and suffering to an inmate.

The 53-year-old was pronounced dead at 7:51 p.m. ET, according to The Associated Press.

The U.S. Supreme Court had hours earlier Tuesday refused to stay the execution. "The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice (Clarence) Thomas and by him referred to the court is denied," the court said.

Georgia became the first state to resume executions since the U.S. Supreme Court last month validated the lethal injection process with a ruling in a Kentucky case.

All but one of the 36 states with capital punishment use a three-drug mixture: an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a hear…

Court denies stay for condemned Georgia killer

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday denied William Earl Lynd's request for a stay of execution, paving the way for him to become the first inmate in the nation to face execution since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that lethal injection is constitutional.

Lynd's attorney plans to appeal immediately to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If that fails, Lynd is scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Lynd is on death watch at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, meaning he is under constant supervision from at least two guards, according to state Department of Corrections protocol.

Lynd would be the first prisoner executed since September, when the high court took up a challenge to lethal injection and effectively halted all executions nationwide for seven months. More>>>

Source: CNN.com


Texas: Execution Date Set for Mexican

A Mexican-born prisoner whose death sentence set off an international dispute and a Supreme Court rebuke of the White House received an execution date of Aug. 5. The prisoner, José E. Medellín, was sentenced to death by lethal injection for his participation in the gang rape and strangulation deaths of two teenage girls 15 years ago in Houston when they stumbled upon a gang initiation rite.

The Supreme Court in March refused to hear Mr. Medellín’s appeal, saying President Bush overstepped his authority by ordering Texas to reopen his case and the cases of 50 other Mexican citizens condemned for murders in the United States.

Texas refused to comply. During Mr. Bush’s six-year tenure as Texas governor, 152 inmates went to the state’s death chamber, the nation’s busiest. But he took the side of Mr. Medellín and 50 other Mexican citizens on death rows around the country after the International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that their convictions violated the 1963 Vienna Convention, which p…

Georgia killer's clemency plea falls short

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Georgia's Parole and Pardon Board has denied a condemned inmate's request for clemency, paving the way for William Earl Lynd to die by injection at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Lynd, convicted of a 1988 murder, had hoped to avoid the dubious distinction of becoming the first person executed in the United States in more than seven months.

Georgia is poised to resume capital punishment after the Supreme Court in April voted to uphold Kentucky's lethal injection protocols. Executions had been on hold across the country since the high court agreed to hear a challenge to the injection method last September.

Lynd still has legal appeals pending, including one with the Georgia Supreme Court.

About a dozen states have announced they would resume capital punishment in the next several months.

"There will surely be future legal challenges brought by the method of execution," said Solicitor General Ted Cruz of Texas, where the most executions by far have taken place in…

SAUDI ARABIA. 3 PAKISTANIS EXECUTED FOR HASHISH SMUGGLING

May 1, 2008: Zargar Sadajan, Roajan Sodajar, and Naik Mohammed Malak Mohammed, all Pakistanis, were executed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after being convicted of receiving large quantities of hashish.

A statement released by the Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed that the men were convicted by the court, and the verdict was approved by the Cassation Court and the Supreme Judicial Council.

Source: Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies, 01/05/2008

IRAN. 12 CONVICTS HANGED

May 5, 2008: Iran has hanged 12 convicted criminals, including nine drug traffickers and three rapists, the latest in a growing number of executions in the Islamic republic, reports said.

Nine drug traffickers were hanged, one of them in public, in the northeastern city of Bojnourd, Kayhan newspaper reported, without giving the date of the executions.

This appears to be the first report of a public execution in Iran since judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi ordered in January that there should be no more public executions without his approval.

"One person was hanged in public," said Kayhan, without giving further details.
Shahroudi's decree came after a growing number of public executions in Iran, including the hanging of two convicted murderers in the centre of Tehran. It was not clear if he had approved the reported public execution in Bojnourd.

Meanwhile, three criminals convicted of kidnapping and raping at least 11 girls were sent to the gallows in the so…

Levon "Bo" James: 14 years on death row for a crime he did not commit

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty congratulates Levon "Bo" James on his newfound freedom earlier today (May 2, 2008), as well as all those who worked so tirelessly to win his release after 14 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

With his great-niece Tatyana McCormick and great-nephew Christian McCormick in hand, Levon "Bo" Jones walks out of the Duplin County Jail a free man after spending 13 years on death row, charged with robbing and shooting Leamon Grady in February 1997.

May 2, 2008 -- Diann Rust Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, issued the following statement today in response to today's announced exoneration out of North Carolina:

"It's been more than seven months since an execution occurred in the U.S. - the longest de facto moratorium in our country in 25 years. And today, just as executions are set to resume in the U.S., Levon "Bo" Jones becomes the 129th …