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Showing posts from March, 2016

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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Pakistan: Two convicted by military courts hanged in Kohat

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PESHAWAR: Two 'terrorists' convicted by military courts for involvement in attacks on security officials and civilians were executed at a jail in Kohat Wednesday, a military sourced confirmed.
The Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had signed the death warrants of Mehmood and Rab Nawaz last year.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in September last year issued the names of nine ‘hardcore terrorists’ whose death sentences had been approved by the army chief. The convicts executed today were among them.
The ISPR had shared the following details at the time about conviction of the militants hanged on Wednesday:
Mehmood s/o Khawaza Khan, an active member of TTP, was found involved in attacking security personnel in KP, killing two soldiers and injuring 13 others. He admitted his offences before the magistrate and trial court and was awarded death sentence.
Rab Nawaz s/o Shahi Room, an active member of TTP, was involved in killing of two civilians, processing firear…

Closed-door inquiry resumes in bungled Oklahoma executions

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A grand jury looking into drug mix-ups during the last 2 scheduled lethal injections in Oklahoma resumed its closed-door investigation Tuesday and could issue a final report as early as this week.
The multicounty grand jury directed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office is scheduled to meet through Thursday in Oklahoma City. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and those subpoenaed to appear are admonished not to publicly discuss their testimony.
The panel is looking into how the wrong drug was used to execute an inmate in January 2015 and then delivered again to death row for a scheduled lethal injection in September that was halted just before the inmate was to die.
Pruitt said he won't request any execution dates for the 5 people so far on death row who have exhausted their appeals until at least 5 months after the grand jury investigation is complete and the results are made public.
Since Pruitt launched the investigation in October, three key state officials c…

Georgia to execute Joshua Bishop

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ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia is preparing to execute a death row inmate convicted of beating another man to death in 1994.
Joshua Bishop is scheduled to die at 7 p.m. Thursday at the state prison in Jackson by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. The 41-year-old inmate was convicted in the June 1994 killing of Leverett Morrison in Milledgeville.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles held a clemency hearing for Bishop Wednesday and on Thursday morning issued an order denying clemency. As is its custom, the board did not provide any reason for its denial, saying only that its members reviewed and considered the facts and circumstances in the case.
The parole board is the only entity in Georgia authorized to commute a death sentence.
Bishop also has a challenge pending in the courts. A Superior Court judge in Butts County, where Georgia's death row is located, on Tuesday rejected that challenge. Bishop's lawyers have appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.
Bishop spent June 19,…

Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Halts Execution of Ukrainian Man in Virginia

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has issued a temporary stay of execution for Ivan Teleguz, a Ukrainian national who was convicted of ordering the 2001 murder of his girlfriend, Stephanie Sipe. 
He was scheduled to be put to death on April 13.
Following his conviction, 2 witnesses recanted their testimony against him, with 1 of them saying he fabricated most of his testimony to avoid the death penalty himself. 
During the trial, the jury was told that Teleguz was involved in another murder that did not in fact occur as alleged.
"A man's life hangs in the balance based on the faulty testimony of witnesses, one of whom later claimed to have lied to avoid the death penalty" said James Clark, senior death penalty campaigner for Amnesty International USA. "This is clearly a broken system that must be ended entirely. Ivan Teleguz's sentence must be commuted permanently."
Source: Amnesty International USA, March 29, 2016
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Justin Wolfe pleads guilty to murder; avoids death penalty

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After claiming his innocence for 15 years, Justin Michael Wolfe wrote a statement this month admitting that he is responsible for the 2001 death of fellow marijuana dealer, Daniel Petrole Jr.
“I am responsible for Danny’s death even though I didn’t pull the trigger,” Wolfe wrote in a letter filed this week in Prince William Circuit Court and first reported by Tom Jackman of the Washington Post. “If I had not been involved Danny would never have been killed.”
At a hearing before Prince William Circuit Court Judge Carroll A. Weimer Jr. on Tuesday, Wolfe, 35, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, marijuana distribution and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. As part of an agreement with prosecutors, he faces between 29 and 41 years in prison when he is sentenced July 20. He will be credited for the 15 years he already has served.
Prosecutors also agreed to drop five other charges, including capital murder, in exchange for Wolfe’s guilty plea.
The plea deal means Wolfe will not …

E.U.: Statement on the confirmation of a death sentence in Belarus

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"The Supreme Court of Belarus on 29 March confirmed the death sentence against Ivan Kulesh, which had already been handed down by the Hrodna Regional Court in November 2015.
Mr Kulesh is guilty of serious crimes and we reiterate our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the victims of these crimes.
Despite the seriousness of the acts, the European Union opposes capital punishment in all cases. 
It has proved to fail as a deterrent and it represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.
We urge Belarus, the only country in Europe which still applies capital punishment, to respect the right to life of each one of its citizens and to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition."
Source: eeas.europa.eu, March 30, 2016
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Saudi Arabia Urges Need For Death Penalty After Sharp Rise In ‘Homosexual’ Arrests

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Citing a threat to the “social fabric” of the nation, the Saudi Arabian judiciary is proposing the death penalty for men found guilty of engaging in or soliciting homosexual activity as well as “men’s attempts to look like women.”
Describing them as “perverts,” officials have noted the deleterious effects social media are having on their citizenry. They note the recent appearance of the hashtag #I_am_gay_will_not_be_deterred as proof of the potential upheaval this devout Muslim nation could face if stronger measures are not adopted.
“Some defended an individual’s freedom to express his sexuality, while most users said that homosexuality is a transgression and a capital offense. “It has nothing to do with freedom, it’s breaching the laws of Allah,” wrote one commenter on Twitter. “When a man has sex with another man, God is trembling.”
A recent spate of news has emerged indicating the seriousness nature of the punishment people face when accused of anything remotely ‘gay.’ As we repor…

John David Battaglia: Court stops Texas execution of man who killed 2 young daughters

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A federal appeals court has stopped the planned execution of a 60-year-old former accountant who gunned down his two young daughters in Dallas while his ex-wife — their mother — listened helplessly on the phone.
John David Battaglia was set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for the May 2001 shooting deaths of his daughters, Faith, 9, and Liberty, 6, in his apartment. 
He'd be the 10th convicted killer executed in the U.S. this year, the sixth in Texas.
Authorities said the slayings were revenge for his former wife's complaints to his probation officer that led to an arrest warrant issued for him.
An attorney seeking to represent Battaglia has asked federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, for a reprieve so Battaglia's mental competency for execution could be further reviewed. 
The Supreme Court has ruled a prisoner can be executed if he's aware of his pending execution and understands why he's being put to death.
"This situation is morally bankr…

Indian jailed for 14 years in Bali drug-smuggling case

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An Indian man was jailed for 14 years today for trying to bring crystal methamphetamine into the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
Denpasar (Indonesia), March 28: An Indian man was jailed for 14 years today for trying to bring crystal methamphetamine into the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
Sayed Mohammed Said was arrested with 1.5 kilograms (53 ounces) of the narcotics hidden inside his backpack when he arrived at Bali airport from Bangkok in September. The 30-year-old claimed the package belonged to a friend and he did not know it contained drugs.
But he was found guilty Monday at a court in the Balinese capital Denpasar, and a judge handed down the 14-year sentence.
The prison term was lower than the 20 years recommended by prosecutors and he escaped a possible death penalty. 
Indonesia has some of the world’s toughest anti-narcotics laws. People caught smuggling more than five grams of some controlled substances can be sentenced to death.
Said’s lawyer Daniar Trisasongko said hi…

Malaysia: Vietnamese Mom Escapes Gallows, Jailed 20 Years for Drug Trafficking

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March 28, 2016: A Vietnamese woman shed tears of joy in court after she was spared the gallows in Malaysia for allegedly trafficking in 2.1kg methamphetamine at the Penang International Airport in 2011.
Nguyen Thanh Ngoc Tuyet, 28, in red and white prison clothes, who was sitting in the dock was seen sobbing when the Federal Court announced its verdict to set aside her conviction for drug trafficking.
However, the mother of a child, would have to spend 20 years in jail after the Federal Court’s five-man panel chaired by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif convicted her for possession of the drugs.
He, however, ruled that on totality of evidence, the court was satisfied that Nguyen Thanh was in custody of a bag in which the methamphetamine was concealed.
Nguyen Thanh was found guilty by the George Town High Court on July 18, 2012 for trafficking in the drugs at the arrival hall of the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas at 10.10am on June 26, 2011 and was sent…

Pakistan: Two executions for murder; two hangings postponed

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March 30, 2016: Two murder convicts were hanged in Pakistan in the last two days. 
On March 29, a double murder convict was sent on the gallows in District Jail Sargodha in the wee hours. 
According to the jail authorities, Ghazanfer Ali had murdered his sister and her husband in the name of honour at Riazul Khateeb Colony of Shahpur on October7, 1999. 
Both the high court and supreme courts upheld the trial court’s verdict. His clemency appeal was also turned down by the President of Pakistan. The District and Sessions Court issued his death warrants. 
Later, his dead body was handed over to the heirs for burial. 
A death row prisoner was hanged on March 30 in the District Jail Sialkot early the morning while the execution of two other convicts was postponed after the rival parties reached agreement.
According to details, death row prisoner Ghulam Abbas was hanged for killing a man during a robbery attempt in 1997. His body was handed over to his heirs after the execution.
Meanwhile…

Saudi executes two citizens for murder

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia executed two citizens convicted of murder on Wednesday, raising to 81 the number of death sentences carried out in the ultra-conservative kingdom this year.
Dhafer and Hussein al-Mutliq were found guilty of killing fellow Saudis Azeb and Mahdi al-Moamer in a dispute between the two families, the interior ministry said.
They were both executed in Najran, in the south, a ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency said.
Most people put to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword.
The executions so far this year include 47 for “terrorism” carried out in a single day on January 2.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 153 people, most of them for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP count.
Human rights group Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia last year was the highest for two decades.
The kingdom is one of the world’s top executioners, although its tally in 2015 was far behind those of China and Iran.
Saudi A…

Taiwan far from reaching consensus on scrapping capital punishment

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Premier Simon Chang said Tuesday that there must be a high degree of public consensus before capital punishment can be scrapped, and that he believes society is far from reaching that high degree of consensus.
The premier noted that a lot of people want to scrap the death penalty, but pointed out that it is a punishment stipulated under the law and that to change the law will need "a very, very high degree of consensus among the public."
He noted that since a random killing on a Taipei metro train in 2014, the issue has been repeatedly debated. But it is still very far from reaching a consensus, he said.
His words came as the nation was gripped in shock and anger by yet another random killing of a young victim, a 4-year-old child in Taipei, Monday, and the debate raged again on whether it is right to push for the scrapping of the death penalty, a goal that the nation is heading toward.
Chang has instructed his deputy, Duh Tyzz-jiun, to convene a series of meetings to come u…

USA: Prosecutors Rarely Disciplined for Misconduct

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Prosecutors are rarely held accountable for misconduct and mistakes that have left innocent people imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit, according to report Tuesday by a nonprofit group that investigates possible wrongful convictions.
The Innocence Project's report coincides with the 5th anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a $14 million judgment to a former death row inmate who was convicted of murder after New Orleans prosecutors withheld evidence from his defense lawyers.
In response to the ruling, researchers examined 660 criminal cases in Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas where courts ruled there had been prosecutorial misconduct. 
Their report found only 1 prosecutor had been disciplined in any of those cases between 2004 and 2008. Convictions were reversed in 133 of those 660 cases, the report said.
"There are almost no adequate systems in place to keep prosecutorial error and misconduct in check and, in fact, prosecut…

India's Supreme Court Stays Execution Of Convict In Rape, Murder Of 5-Year-Old

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A man, who was to be hanged on Wednesday for raping and killing a 5-year-old last year in Madhya Pradesh, got a fresh lease of life as the Supreme Court today stayed his execution and sought response of the state government on his appeal in the case.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit, stayed the execution after taking note of the petition filed by convict Sachin K Singhraha, a Madhya Pradesh resident, against the High Court verdict confirming his death penalty awarded by a local court.
Singhraha, in his appeal, has sought a stay on the operation of the death warrant.
The petition alleged that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against him beyond reasonable doubt and the trial court was wrong in awarding him the death penalty.
It said the trial court did not give any special reason for "imposing death sentence upon the convict" and the high court while confirming the death sentence has also failed to give any special …

Australia: Colin Ross, hanged for killing 12-year-old girl, was exonerated and pardoned 86 years later

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THE rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl in a Melbourne CBD laneway 95 years ago was not the only grave injustice committed in one of Victoria’s greatest murder mysteries.
An innocent man hanged for the crime, which shocked staid Melbourne.
Colin Campbell Ross went to the gallows protesting his innocence over the murder of 12-year-old Alma Tirtschke in Gun Alley, Melbourne, and was pardoned more than eight decades after his execution.
The key to reclaiming Ross’ name was in a series of paintings by Australian artist Charles Blackman that repeatedly featured a schoolgirl, and the curiosity of a librarian.
Colin Ross was a victim of circumstances.
He was nearby when Alma was murdered.
He was known to police, who were desperate to find the killer behind one of the city’s most sensational crimes amid a storm of outrage from the public and the press.
He hanged, in part, because of bungled forensic evidence used in court for the first time.
Alma was sent to deliver a parcel of meat to her…

Report: Saudi authorities seek death penalty for coming out as gay

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A published report indicates that people who come out online in Saudi Arabia could face the death penalty.
Oraz, a Saudi newspaper, reported on Saturday that prosecutors in the city of Jiddah have proposed the penalty in response to dozens of cases they have prosecuted over the last six months. These include 35 people who received prison sentences for sodomy.
Okaz reported that Jiddah authorities have prosecuted 50 cases in which men allegedly dressed as women. A doctor who lives in the port city on the Red Sea has been released on bail after officials arrested him for allegedly raising an LGBT Pride flag over his home.
A gay Saudi man who lives outside the kingdom told the Washington Blade on Monday during a telephone interview the enhanced penalties that Jiddah prosecutors have proposed would apply to the entire country. The man, who operates a Twitter account that publishes LGBT-specific news and other information from Saudi Arabia, said the proposal has caused fear among LGBT peo…

California Death Row Inmate Dies of Natural Causes

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Seventy condemned inmates have died from natural causes since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978
An inmate sentenced to death over 30 years ago was pronounced dead Saturday morning of natural causes in a California jail.
Bernard L. Hamilton, was sentenced on March 2, 1981, by a San Diego County jury for the 1979, first-degree murder and second-degree burglary of Eleanore Buchanan.
Hamilton kidnapped, murdered and dismembered Buchanan’s body after she caught him burglarizing her van. He had a prior conviction for burglary in 1973.
Hamilton had been on death row since March 4, 1981.
Seventy condemned inmates have died from natural causes since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978.
Twenty-five inmates have committed suicide, thirteen have been executed in California and two were executed in Missouri and Virginia.
Eight other inmates have died from other causes, and one cause of death is pending.
There are 747 offenders on California’s death row.
Source: nbcsandie…