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Showing posts from August, 2013

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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley: Abolishing death penalty part of pushing King's vision forward

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Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said that laws abolishing the death penalty, legalizing gay marriage and raising the minimum wage represented the modern "calling of conscience to action" while speaking Wednesday at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
O'Malley, who has strongly hinted that he plans to pursue the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, said there was an "urgent" need to attend to the "work of justice."
"The responsibility we consecrate today is not rooted in nostalgia or memory - it is rooted in something far deeper," O'Malley said.
He went on to urge "actions that protect every individual's right to vote; action that safeguards and keeps guns out of the hands of violent offenders; action makes quality education and the opportunity of college a reality for more families; action that protects the dignity of every child's home with civil marriage equality."
O'Malley added that "…

Texas: Skinner's Lawyer, AG Disagree Over DNA Results

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Lawyers for death row inmate Hank Skinner say the latest round of DNA testing in the 1993 triple murder he was convicted for show that someone else likely committed the crime.
“In light of this latest round of DNA tests, supported by other exculpatory evidence, the doubts about Mr. Skinner’s guilt are far too substantial to allow his execution to proceed,” Douglas Robinson, an attorney for Skinner, wrote in an email.
But lawyers with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office argue that the same test results only reinforce Skinner’s guilt.
“The new round of testing does nothing to vindicate Hank Skinner in the murder of Twila Busby,” said Jerry Strickland, an Abbott spokesman.
Skinner was convicted in 1995 of killing his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons in Pampa. He has maintained his innocence, arguing that he was too inebriated from a mixture of vodka and codeine to overpower the three victims. He pleaded with the state for more than a decade to test DNA that he arg…

Missouri: Action sought against execution anesthesiologist

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a medical board to suspend certification for an anesthesiologist expected to participate in upcoming executions in Missouri.
Earlier this month the Missouri Supreme Court set execution dates for two convicted killers, the first on Oct. 23. The executions will be the first since Missouri switched from a three-drug method to a single-drug protocol.
Missouri will also become the first state to use the anesthetic propofol, raising concerns among some death penalty opponents who say the unproven drug could cause pain and suffering for the inmate.
The ACLU cites says court documents showing that the state plans to use an anesthesiologist identified only as "M3." The ACLU wrote to the American Board of Anesthesiology on Thursday seeking suspension of his or her certification.
Source: AP, August 30, 2013

USA: Fort Hood killer Hasan arrives at death row in Kansas

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(Reuters) - Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, who was sentenced to death for the massacre of 13 soldiers at a Texas Army base, on Friday began his residency on death row at the military's maximum-security facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, a prison spokeswoman said.
Hasan is being confined in the "death sentence inmate housing unit" that is part of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) at Leavenworth, said Kimberly Lewis, spokeswoman for the prison.
The death sentence will be automatically appealed to the U.S. Army Criminal Court of Appeals, and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces - as is required in the military justice system, Lewis said.
Hasan, 42, was sentenced to death August 28 for a bloody 2009 rampage that killed 13 unarmed soldiers and wounded 31 others. The sentence includes forfeiture of all of Hasan's pay and allowances, and dismissal from the service.
There has not been a U.S. military execution since 1961, and approval from the Presi…

Hyon Song Wol, Kim Jong Un's Ex-Girlfriend, Reportedly Executed For Making Sex Tape

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Unconfirmed reports claim the ex-girlfriend of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was executed by firing squad along with 11 others, after the group allegedly made and sold a sex tape.
Hyon Song Wol, a singer in North Korea's famed Unhasu Orchestra, was killed by machine gun along with 11 other members of the orchestra and the Wangjaesan Light Music Band, another popular state-run music group in North Korea, according to a report in The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's largest daily newspaper.
The report, which cites an anonymous source in China, says the group was arrested Aug. 17 for filming and selling a pornographic video featuring themselves. The clip reportedly found its way across the border to China. Their families were forced to watch the execution, which took place three days later, and were then sent to the country's notorious prison camps, the source said.
Hyon was a famous performer whose fame peaked around 2005 with the popular song "Excellent Horse-Like Lady.&q…

Poland completely abolishes death penalty

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Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has signed a bill on the ratification of regulations abolishing death penalty in all circumstances.
Before the bill Poland was one of the few Council of Europe members in which death penalty is allowed in times of war.
The president also signed a bill on the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty is a side agreement to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Source: Xinhua News, August 29, 2013

India: Youth gets death penalty for raping & killing minor

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Bolpur court on Monday sentenced Binoy Maji, (23), to death for killing a minor girl after raping her.
The additional district judge of Bolpur court, justice Manash Basu, delivered the verdict in a packed courtroom.
Court records reveal that on December 9, 2011, Maji, an unemployed 22-year-old from Santra village under Nanoor police station, had raped and murdered the eight-year-old, a class 2 student of a local primary school.
During interrogation, Maji confessed to his crime and even identified the area where he had raped and then murdered the girl.
“He (Maji) confessed that after the rape, the girl complained she was not feeling well. He then strangled her and dumped her body nearby,” a police officer said.
Sources said the medical test conducted on Maji helped prove he had committed the crime. Police then filed a charge sheet against him.
“After the trial, Basu on August 23, 2013, found Maji guilty under sections 363 (kidnapping), 376(2)(F), raping a minor, 302 (murder) and 201(d…

Nigeria must stop executions of death row prisoners - Amnesty International

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Amnesty International and 8 Nigerian civil society organisations call on authorities in Nigeria to immediately halt all plans to execute further death row inmates in the country, and to return to a moratorium on executions, with a view of abolishing the death penalty. The organisations are deeply concerned that Thankgod Ebhos, who was nearly executed on 24 June 2013 when 4 other men were hanged at Benin City Prison in Edo state, is still at risk after unconfirmed reports that the authorities in Edo state are planning to request a court to change the method of his execution from firing squad to hanging. The Edo state government gave a directive to Benin prison to transfer him to Kaduna state, where he was originally sentenced to death.
The organisations condemn the execution of Chima Ejiofor, Daniel Nsofor, Osarenmwinda Aiguokhan and Richard Igagu on 24 June 2013 without regard for due process and without giving prior notice to their families or lawyers. In addition, and also contrary…

Florida: Jury recommends death penalty in Michael Bargo murder trial

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Late Tuesday afternoon a Marion County jury recommended death for Michael Bargo.
Last week, the jury convicted Bargo of 1st-degree murder in the 2011 slaying of 15-year-old Seath Jackson.
"By a vote of 10 to 2, we the jury recommend the defendant be sentenced to death," the court clerk read aloud.
Bargo stood by his attorney as he learned the same jury that convicted him decided he deserved to die.
Investigators said in 2011 Bargo and 4 others lured Jackson to a home, beat him, shot him to death, burned and dismembered his body. They then stuffed the remains in paint buckets and dumped them in a rock quarry.
On Tuesday prosecutors called it a cold, calculated and premeditated murder that was prompted by a dispute over a girl.
"He wanted Seath alive in the bathtub, so when Seath took his last breath, the last thing he would see is the defendant standing over him," prosecutor Amy Berndt said in court.
They asked jurors to recommend death, but Bargo's defense att…

Fort Hood shooting jury recommends death penalty for Nidal Hasan

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Fort Hood, Texas (CNN) -- A military jury on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for convicted Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, for the 2009 massacre on the Army base that left 13 people dead and 32 others wounded.
The 13-member panel deliberated for 2½ hours, and the president of the jury -- or foreman-- announced the finding in open court with a clear voice, that Hasan "be put to death."
The convicted killer said nothing as the decision was announced, and had appeared emotionless earlier in the morning when dramatic closing arguments in the sentencing phased were held without his participation.
Hasan serves as his own attorney and his refusal to mount a vigorous defense, or to offer any mitigating evidence to blunt a capital sentence, may have made the panel's unanimous decision less complicated or agonizing.
The judge quickly accepted the verdict, and the matter now goes to the "convening authority" -- an Army general who will review the four-week co…

Indonesia Top Court Rejects Bali Death-Row Briton Lindsay Sandiford’s Appeal

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Indonesia’s top court on Thursday rejected an appeal by a British grandmother sentenced to death for trafficking drugs into the resort island of Bali, a judge said.
A three-judge panel at the Supreme Court in Jakarta unanimously rejected the appeal of Lindsay Sandiford, said the panel’s chief judge Artidjo Alkostar.
“Her appeal has been rejected,” he said in a text message after the closed hearing.
“The decision is unanimous,” he said, adding there was “no dissenting opinion”.
He said the judges agreed with the decision taken by the Denpasar District Court in Bali, which sentenced her to death, and the island’s high court, which rejected her first appeal.
Sandiford was sentenced to death in January after cocaine with an estimated street value of $2.4 million was found in her suitcase as she arrived on a flight from Bangkok in May last year, a shock verdict after prosecutors recommended 15 years imprisonment.
Police said she was at the center of a drugs-importing ring involving three …

Georgia State Supreme Court Considers Execution Drug

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The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously agreed Monday to reconsider a stay of execution. It's for death row inmate Warren Lee Hill. One expert says the case could halt all of Georgia's executions.
A new state law makes certain information about drugs used in executions a "confidential state secret".
Many companies are reluctant to make such drugs, fearing a public backlash. Lawmakers want to keep the information confidential to ensure a supply.
Georgia's supply of pentobarbital has expired. Hill's attorneys argue they should get more information about the compounding of the new drug to ensure it won't cause pain and suffering during the death penalty. A Fulton County judge agreed to stay his execution. But now the state is appealing that ruling.
UGA law professor emeritus Ronald Carlson says if the State Supreme Court sustains Hill's argument, it will have major implications for all death row inmates in Georgia.
He says "All death row sentences wi…

Burial Rites: Hannah Kent's meticulously researched historical novel tells of the final months of the last woman executed in Iceland

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The last case of capital punishment in Iceland was on 12 January 1830 with the double execution of supposed partners in crime Agnes Magnúsdóttir and Fridrik Sigurdsson. They were found guilty of murdering two men, Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson, whose bodies – each with wounds of a deliberate nature – were found in the burnt-out ruins of Ketilsson's farm. Magnúsdóttir was a workmaid at the farm along with Sigurdsson's intended, Sigrídur Gudmundsdóttir, the third guilty party. She was the only one of the trio to escape the death penalty, seeing out her days in a Copenhagen textile prison.
The murders took place on the night between 13 and 14 March 1828, at Illugastadir, on the Vatnsnes peninsula in northern Iceland. Four months later, Magnúsdóttir, Sigurdsson and Gudmundsdóttir were found guilty in a district court and sentenced to be beheaded, with Gudmundsdóttir's sentence later commuted.
The Húnavatn district, in which they resided, was ill-prepared to hold the priso…

Ohio Parole Board Rejects Mercy For Condemned Killer

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Parole Board has rejected mercy for a condemned killer who shot two people, including a police officer.
The board ruled unanimously Tuesday in Columbus against recommending that death row inmate Harry Mitts Jr. be granted clemency.
The 61-year-old Mitts is scheduled to die next month after being convicted in the 1994 double shooting outside Cleveland.
Mitts told the parole board in an interview earlier this month that he'd accept whatever decision it makes.
His attorneys told the board last week that Mitts is remorseful and accepts responsibility for what he did.
The state's supply of its execution drug expires at month's end, and Mitts will be the last person put to death with that drug if his execution is carried out.
Source: 10TV, August 27, 2013

Gaza court issues death penalty to convicted collaborator

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A court in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday sentenced a man to death on charges of collaborating with Israel.
The court ruled that the man, identified only as B.H, be sentenced to death by hanging, but did not set a date for the execution.
Another man was sentenced to death on criminal charges of killing 3 Palestinians in Khan Younis.
The Hamas-run security services have cracked down on collaborators in the Gaza Strip since launching a campaign in the media to discourage working with Israeli intelligence.
Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel is punishable by death.
However all execution orders must be approved by the president before they can be carried out. Hamas no longer recognizes the legitimacy of incumbent Mahmoud Abbas, whose 4-year term ended in 2009.
In early August, UN rights chief Navi Pillay described the judicial process in Gaza as deeply flawed.
"I am concerned about the process by which death sentences are imposed by military and civilian courts i…

Singapore: Man on death row re-sentenced after Penal Code amendments

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An Indian national became the 3rd person on death row for murder to be re-sentenced to life imprisonment - since Parliament passed amendments to the Penal Code in November 2012.
The amendments give judges sentencing discretion in some murder cases.
Previously, the death penalty was mandatory for all murder cases.
37-year-old Gopinathan Nair Remadevi Bijukumar had his case sent back to the High Court by the Court of Appeal in May this year for re-sentencing.
On Wednesday, Justice Choo Han Teck sentenced Gopinathan to life imprisonment and 18 strokes of the cane.
Gopinathan, a former shipyard worker, was found guilty of murdering Filipino prostitute Roselyn Reyes Pascua.
She was found dead in her rented room in Peony Mansion in Bencoolen Street in March 2010.
Gopinathan claimed he had stabbed her after she attacked him and refused to return money he had paid her for sexual services.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Adrian Loo had asked the court to impose 24 strokes of the cane on Gopinathan, …

7 More Executions in Iran - 30 Executions in the Last 12 Days

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Iran Human Rights, August 26: Seven prisoners have been executed in different Iranian prisons in the past few days, reported the Iranian state media.
According to the Iranian national broadcasting one prisoner was hanged in the prison of Ardebil (northwestern Iran) today August 26. The prisoner who was not identified by name, was 56 year old and convicted of possession of 991 grams of heroin.
The Iranian state media also reported about execution of another man in the prison of Isfahan. The prisoner was convicted of possession of 2450 grams of heroin and 1770 grams of crack. The prisoner was not identified by name. The execution was carried out on Monday August 25.
According to the official website of the Iranian judiciary in Kermanshah (western Iran), three prisoners were hanged in the prison of Kermanshah yesterday August 25. The prisoners who were identified as "A. M.", "H. B." and "J. S.", were convicted of murder
The judiciary of Khuzestan (southwest…

Iranian man Saeed Malekpour convicted for porn site escapes death

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Malekpour faces life in prison after confession on Iranian TV
Tehran: The lawyer of a man convicted of building and promoting pornographic websites says a death sentence against his client has been converted to life imprisonment.
Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei is quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency, which is often used by the government to make announcements, as saying on Monday that blogger Saeed Malekpour will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Malekpour was arrested in 2008 and confessed on Iranian TV that he developed and promoted pornographic websites. He was found guilty in 2012 of spreading corruption and sentenced to death.
Tabatabaei said the Iranian-Canadian computer programmer has repented. Iranian media have called Malekpour the head of the biggest Persian-language network of pornographic websites.
Source: The Associated Press, August 26, 2013
Related articles: Death Penalty News: Iran confirms death sentence for 'porn site' web ... Jan 18, 2012 His sister, Ma…

USA: Sentencing Phase for Hasan Starts Monday

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Ft. Hood - (KCEN) – The sentencing phase for Major Nidal Hasan will begin Monday morning with testimony from witnesses beginning at 9:30 a.m.
On Friday the senior officer jury found Hasan guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder, and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder. Hours later Judge Osborn called another hearing to discuss the sentencing phase.
During that hearing prosecutors told Judge Osborn they plan on presenting 20 witnesses. Of those witnesses, there will be at least one for each of the 13 who were murdered during Hasan's shooting spree at Fort Hood back in 2005. Prosecutors told the judge many of the witnesses include the victim's mothers, siblings and widows. When they are on the stand, prosecutors plan to show jurors pictures of the victims and their families to go along with the emotional testimony.
Three of the surviving victims are also expected to take the stand on Monday.
While on the stand, these witnesses can only testify on the impact of the cri…

Fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai's corruption trial ends

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JINAN, China: The trial of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai on bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power charges ended Monday after five days of hearings, the court said.
The Intermediate People's Court in the eastern city of Jinan will "announce the verdict at a date to be decided", it said on its verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
The trial had initially only been expected to last two days, but stretched on as Bo, once the Communist Party chief of the megacity of Chongqing, mounted a spirited defence.
Delayed transcripts of the hearings posted online by the court painted a dramatic picture of the defendant denying the accusations and decrying prosecution witnesses and evidence.
But no foreign media were present in court and no independent verification is possible.
But analysts widely believe that a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion and a long prison sentence has already been agreed.
The scandal surrounding Bo, which shook the rulin…

Mumbai gang-rape: Shinde assures swift action, Sushma demands death penalty

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The Maharashtra government will "do its utmost" to complete the investigation in the Mumbai gang-rape case and prosecute the accused expeditiously, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said on Monday.
Making a statement in the Lok Sabha, Shinde said, "All the five accused have been arrested. Public order and police are subjects exclusively dealt with by the state."
"The government of Maharashtra will do utmost to complete the investigation in the crime and prosecute the accused under law expeditiously," he said.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj demanded death penalty for the guilty in the Mumbai journalist gang-rape case and said mere words won't help.
"All the five accused in the Mumbai gang-rape case should be hanged," said Swaraj.
Shinde said he has spoken to Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and was assured that the case would be tried in a fast track court and verdict would be announced fast.
A 22-year-old photojournal…

Colorado adds alternate drug for executions

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Colorado's instructions for putting prisoners to death by lethal injection have been revised to include an alternate drug, underscoring problems states face in carrying out executions, the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday.
The ACLU released a copy of the state Department of Corrections execution protocol, which it obtained after filing a lawsuit against the department.
The protocol, which was heavily redacted, included a list of 3 drugs to be used for executions, along with an alternate for 1 of the drugs, sodium pentothal.
The protocol said pentobarbital can be used instead.
That's a change from a 2011 version of the protocol, said Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU in Colorado.
"The change might reflect the difficulty the Department of Corrections was having in procuring the drug that they had listed earlier," he said.
It also underscores the obstacles to carrying out executions that don't subject inmates to cruel and unusual punishment, S…

Papua New Guinea: Disturbing violence in poverty-stricken PNG

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Papua New Guinea continues to grapple with high levels of violence against women and children, despite the government introducing the death sentence to try and curb it.
A new report shows a quarter of those seeking help after being raped, are under the age of 12.
ONE News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver says an overwhelming number of women and children in PNG are the victims of violence and it's so endemic most cases aren't even reported.
Barry Coates from Oxfam says virtually all women in by the age of 25 are likely to have suffered at least some incident of domestic violence in their lives.
Violent crime is particularly common in the capital Port Moresby and the Highlands, and the Government recently introduced the death penalty for murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill believes there has been a remarkable decline in the number of cases they are experiencing. "That is one indication that people are taking these new changes an…

USA: Scott Panetti Sane Enough For Execution

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At least for now, inmate cleared for death
For the second time in nearly a decade, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Scott Panetti, a schizophrenic sent to death row for a 1992 double murder, is sane enough to be executed. Whether that means Panetti is actually closer to a date with the executioner, however, remains to be seen.
Panetti was convicted and sentenced to death for the Sept. 8, 1992 slaying of his in-laws, Joe and Amanda Alvarado, at the couple's home in Fredericksburg. Panetti had been hospitalized in connection with his illness at least 11 times prior to the slaying and was last released just two months before he killed the Alvarados. When he turned himself into police the afternoon of the murders he told investigators that "Sarge," a recurring auditory hallucination, was responsible for the crime. Panetti was heavily medicated when deemed competent to stand trial, but by the time he actually went to court for the crime he was off his meds…

Sergeant Robert Bales Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Killing of Afghan Civilians

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Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty to slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians inside their homes, will spend the rest of his life in prison, a military jury decided on Friday.
The jury’s decision came after three days of wrenching testimony that painted a moment-by-moment, bullet-by-bullet account of one of the worst atrocities of the United States’ long war in Afghanistan.
The six-member military jury considering his fate had two options: sentence him to life in prison with no possibility of parole, or allow him a chance at freedom after about 20 years behind bars.
His guilty plea in June removed the death penalty from the table.
In pressing for mercy, the defense team said Sergeant Bales had been a good soldier, a loving father and a stand-up friend before snapping after four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. But prosecutors said he was a man frustrated with his career and family, easy to anger, whose rage erupted at the end of his M-4 rifle.
 In the end, the jury s…

Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Convicted on All Counts

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KILLEEN, Tex. — A military jury on Friday found Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan guilty of carrying out the largest mass murder at a military installation in American history.
The verdict, delivered by 13 senior Army officers, came 17 days after Major Hasan’s court-martial began on Aug. 6, and nearly four years after the day that Major Hasan killed and wounded dozens of unarmed soldiers at a medical deployment center at Fort Hood here.
He and prosecutors said his mission was to kill as many soldiers as he could as part of a jihad to protect “my Muslim brothers” from American soldiers deploying to Afghanistan. A year after the shooting, he told a military mental health panel that he wished he had died in the attack so he could have become a martyr. He expressed no remorse for his actions, only regret that he was paralyzed by police officers who shot him in ending the attack.
The verdict now opens the sentencing phase of the court-martial, with the 13 officers deciding whether to sentence Major …

Life on Death Row in Alabama

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If an animal was kept in a small cage barely big enough to turn around in for 23 or more hours per day, given inadequate food, kept in excessive heat, and denied access to others except for two short visits per month, the person who placed that animal there would be violating the law. 
No matter what stance they take on the death penalty, most people have never really had a view of what conditions are like for inmates on death row. In Alabama, over two hundred men and women wake up and go to sleep each day on death row. Imagine if you will, living this life for a week, a month, years, or decades, as many do.
Each inmate, after being sentenced to death row to await his or her execution is placed in a 5x8 feet cell, which includes the room taken up by a cot, toilet and sink. There is no window in the cell, so the only view is the hallway and the four walls. Inmates are issued a towel, sheets, a disposable razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, a bar of soap and two rolls of toilet paper. Ev…