Posts

FEATURED POST

States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

Image
The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Saudi Arabia On Track To Execute The Most People This Year In Two Decades

Image
Figures provided exclusively to BuzzFeed News reveal that, despite Mohammed bin Salman’s attempt to present himself as a reformer, the country's approach to the death penalty has not changed.
Mujtaba al-Sweikat was 17 years old when he attended a protest against the government in Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2012. That December, on his way to visit Western Michigan University, where he was to study English and finance, he was arrested at the airport of eastern city of Dammam, hauled away and convicted after a secret trial on charges that included overseeing a dissident Facebook page and photographing anti-government protests. His sentence: death by hanging, a verdict upheld by an appellate court over the summer.
The ascension of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman raised hopes for change inside and outside the conservative, oil-rich monarchy. He has announced drastic social reforms that include modernizing the nation’s religious teachings and granting wo…

India: Should death penalty be abolished? Study presents a firm argument

Image
The study points towards lack of uniform understanding of 'rarest of the rare'
At a time the debate on whether capital punishment should be abolished rages in the country, the study based on interview of 60 former Supreme Court judges brought out a non-uniform and rather contradictory approach by judges while awarding death sentences.
Significantly, these judges, which included eight former CJIs, had adjudicated 208 death penalty cases between them at different points during the period 1975-2016, and confirmed 92 of them. 
The study also goes on to expose the serious flaws in administration of death penalty in India and presents a firm argument for abolishing capital punishment.
The report showed that despite "rarest of rare" doctrine in death penalty as laid down by the SC in the Bachan Singh case, there existed no uniform understanding of the requirements of rarest of rare doctrine. "For a significant number of judges, the 'rarest of the rare' was base…

California: Woman who murdered spouse for insurance sentenced to death

Image
A death sentence was handed down for a Moreno Valley woman who fatally shot her 56-year-old husband to collect more than $1 million in life insurance proceeds.
A Riverside jury in August convicted 62-year-old Lorraine Alison Hunter of murdering Albert Thomas in 2009 and ultimately recommended that she receive capital punishment for the slaying.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mac Fisher agreed with the jury's recommendation, rejecting a defense plea for Hunter's sentence to be reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Along with 1st-degree murder, jurors in her 2-month trial found true special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and killing for financial gain.
The prosecution's key witness was Hunter's now-23-year-old daughter, Briuana Lashanae Hunter, who confessed to plotting with her mother to kill Thomas.
Briuana Hunter pleaded guilty last year to 3 counts of attempted murder and 1 count of voluntary manslaughter. She's slated to …

Nebraska: Omaha attorney signs on to help fight Jose Sandoval's execution

Image
An Omaha attorney will represent condemned killer Jose Sandoval in his bid to fight the state's attempt to execute him via lethal injection.
Attorney Stu Dornan filed a motion in Madison County District Court this week arguing that Sandoval, 38, should be resentenced to life in prison or have another capital sentencing hearing.
The Legislature repealed the death penalty in May 2015, then nullified the governor's veto of the bill (LB268) with another vote. The repeal, Dornan said, went into effect Aug. 30 before it was suspended again because of an initiative referendum vote.
"Mr. Sandoval is subject to a uniquely cruel and unprecedented form of psychological suffering through alternating periods of relief and terror as he has been told that his life would be spared, and then told again that he would be executed," the motion said.
That raises constitutional issues that must be addressed, Dornan said Friday. It's possibly the 1st time that something like this has h…

Florida: Man convicted of killing 2 people in 2008 resentenced to 2 death sentences

Image
A 63-year-old man convicted of killing 2 people with a hammer in 2008 is going back on Florida's death row.
Citing inadequate legal representation, the Florida Supreme Court last year ordered Raymond Bright re-sentenced and the chance to avoid the death penalty for the murders of Derrick King and Randall Brown.
Prosecutors said the victims were killed what during a drug-related dispute.
In part, the Supreme Court described Bright's "nightmarish childhood," which included significant abuse, and said such issues were not adequately raised during the original sentencing to try to spare Bright from the death penalty.
"The jury never learned who Raymond Bright is," the Supreme Court opinion said. "Therefore, competent, substantial evidence supports the findings of the post-conviction court that Bright was prejudiced by the deficient performance of his penalty phase counsel."
But after a sentencing hearing in the Duval County Courthouse Friday morning, …

South Carolina prosecutor wants execution drug law 14 years after ambush

Image
For the death penalty to mean anything in South Carolina, the killer who ambushed and killed 2 law officers in South Carolina in 2003 needs to be executed when his appeals run out, said the prosecutor whose office handled the case.
Solicitor David Stumbo said South Carolina's lack of drugs to carry out executions is changing the way fellow prosecutors do their jobs, adding another hurdle as he and families consider whether to seek the death penalty in murder cases.
Stumbo spoke Friday at a ceremony marking 14 years since Abbeville County Sheriff's Deputy Danny Wilson and state constable Donnie Ouzts were killed by a family angry over a highway widening project outside their Abbeville home.
Steven Bixby and his parents were charged with murder. They have died, but Bixby, 50, remains on death row after being convicted.
"If we are to have the death penalty in South Carolina, which the vast majority of our citizens are in favor of, it has to mean something," Stumbo said…

North Carolina prosecutors want the death penalty for prison inmates accused of killing officers

Image
The 4 prisoners accused of carrying out the deadliest prison escape attempt in North Carolina history could now face the death penalty.
Prosecutors in Pasquotank County announced Wednesday they will ask for the men to be executed, according to reports from TV stations WAVY and WTKR.
Inmates Wisezah Buckman, Mikel Brady, Seth Frazier and Jonathan Monk have been charged with 1st degree murder as well as other crimes related to their failed escape attempt in October.
The men were working in a sewing plant at Pasquotank Correctional Institute when they attacked the only guard on duty, Justin Smith, as well as the plant manager, Veronica Darden, officials have said.
Smith and Darden died that day, and 2 other corrections officers, Wendy Shannon and Geoffrey Howe, died later from injuries they sustained during the chaos.
Funeral services for Veronica Darden, 1 of 4 corrections employees killed in a failed prison escape, were Oct. 21, 2017. Hundreds of law enforcement officials from across N…

The U.S. Supreme Court has the chance to end the death penalty. They should take it

Image
There is no question that Abel Hidalgo has committed some awful crimes.
As a gang member in Arizona, he accepted $1,000 in 2001 to murder auto repair shop owner Michael Cordova and also killed another man, Jose Rojas, who showed up at the shop at the wrong time. 
It took a year and an informant's tip to lead police to Hidalgo, who by then was in federal prison for the drug-related murders of 2 women (1 of them a former girlfriend) on a Native American reservation in Idaho.
Hidalgo is just the kind of person from whom society needs to be protected, and he should be locked away. Few would disagree about that. A more complicated question - even for those who support capital punishment - is whether an Arizona jury was right to sentence him to death.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that states must design their capital punishment statutes so that only truly egregious crimes are punished by death. But Hidalgo argues that Arizona has added so many "aggravating circumstances" -…

Iowa: Capital punishment "is just plain wrong"

Image
It just had to come up: Republicans want to revive the death penalty in Iowa during the next legislative session. 
It saddens us that Iowa would even consider lowering itself again into barbarism, state-sponsored murder. Thirst for revenge is a powerful force in politics. 
That's what drives capital punishment, those Old Testament eye-for-eye rules. We forget the New Commandment, to love one another, because it is so much harder.
Let's forget religion for a moment. We will come back to that. Let's think of the practical aspects:
-- Juries can be wrong. Northwestern University journalism students in Chicago discovered several death-row cases where the inmates were innocent, often done in by crooked cops or prosecutors. Who wants the execution of an innocent man or woman on the conscience?
-- Minorities are the victims. In Iowa especially, blacks have an inordinately high share of the prison population. It has drawn the attention of the Iowa Supreme Court, especially in how…