Former solicitors: Retrial of accused cop killer will be costly, but worth it

SCADP note: This story is somewhat confusing, as Luzenski Allen Cottrell is already included on the SC Department of Correction’s most recent list of death row inmates. The story was published by Carolinalive.com.

A new trial began Monday for a man charged with killing a Myrtle Beach police officer in 2002. Luzenski Allen Cottrell will be tried before a new jury in the 2002 shooting death of Officer Joe McGarry. Continue reading

Judge Kopf: I would uphold the death penalty for an innocent man rather than play games with the law

By Debra Cassens Weiss | Sept. 16, 2014 | ABA Journal

A blogging federal judge has taken on a controversial question: Should federal court judges allow the execution of a factually innocent defendant?

Writing at Hercules and the Umpire, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf says he accepted the risk of condemning an innocent to die when he became a federal judge in 1992. “I will have to live with my knowing choice if such a horror comes to pass,” the Nebraska judge writes. “I will have no one to blame but myself.”

Click to read the complete article in the ABA Journal.

First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA Wants to Kill the Death Penalty

In a forthcoming documentary, Kirk Bloodsworth fights to keep innocent people from being sentenced to death. (Click here to watch the trailer.)

When he was 22, Kirk Bloodsworth was sentenced to death for the murder of a 9-year-old girl. The case against him relied solely on one person’s eyewitness testimony; no physical evidence linked him to the scene. After he spent eight years in prison, Bloodsworth was exonerated in 1993 through “genetic fingerprinting.” It was the first time DNA evidence led to a reversal of a death row conviction. Read the article on takepart.com.

Justice Scalia Says Executing the Innocent Doesn’t Violate the Constitution

. . . “This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent,” [Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia wrote in a 2009 dissent of the Court’s order for a federal trial court in Georgia to consider the case of death row inmate Troy Davis.

Click here to read the article at Business Insider.

UNL study examines racial bias in death-penalty decisions

A Latino defendant convicted of murder who is poor is more likely to be sentenced to death by white jurors, a new study shows.

The study was conducted by UNL psychology and ethnic studies professor Cynthia Willis-Esqueda and her colleague, Russ K.E. Espinoza of California State University, Fullerton, who earned his doctorate at UNL.

More than 500 white and Latino people called for jury duty in a southern California courthouse participated in the research, and they were asked how they would decide a hypothetical murder case.

Click here to read the complete article at the UNL website.

Ohio Anesthesiologist testifies: “This was not a humane execution.”

Despite arguments that Dennis McGuire would experience agony and suffering due to the lethal injection protocol, the state of Ohio executed him on January 16, 2014. The execution took an abnormally long time and involved McGuire gasping throughout the process. An expert doctor is now testifying that Mr. McGuire did in fact suffer from the lethal injection process.

See the website of Ohioans to Stop Executions for a summary and links to more information.

Innocence Project Seeks Ethics Probe of Prosecutor in Willingham Case

The Innocence Project has asked the State Bar of Texas to investigate the prosecutor in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the deaths of his three children in a 1991 fire.

Jailhouse informant Johnny Webb had testified that Willingham told him he deliberately set the fatal fire, but Webb has varied since then on whether the testimony was true. Now Webb says he lied in exchange for efforts by the prosecutor to reduce Webb’s prison sentence . . . Read this and related articles: The ABA Journal

Thanks to the StandDown Texas Project for alerting us to this development.

Federal Review Stalled After Finding Forensic Errors by FBI Lab Unit Spanned Two Decades

By Spencer S. Hsu

Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said.

The findings troubled the bureau, and it stopped the review of convictions last August. Case reviews resumed this month at the order of the Justice Department, the officials said. Click here to read the rest of the article, which includes links to related articles, in the Washington Post.

Three Death Row Inmates Granted Reprieves in Dorchester County

In the past year, three murderers sentenced by Dorchester County juries to die by lethal injection or electrocution have been granted reprieves – one commuted to life in prison and two others granted new sentencing hearings.  Read the article at the Post and Courier.

NOTE: There is a poll associated with the above article. Unfortunately it includes only three answers and will not allow you to say that the appeals process is deeply flawed, has resulted in the execution of innocent people, and harms the families of both the victims and the accused.
Also please note that the execution of people with mental disabilities is unconstitutional; see Atkins v Virginia

Botched Execution in Arizona / Please Vote in Post and Courier Poll

The Charleston Post and Courier published a story about the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood in Arizona, and as of Monday, July 28, there is still a poll about the death penalty associated with that story. Please go to the article and vote.

Update August 3: The poll has not been taken down and is therefore still taking votes, but they apparently aren’t counted any more. It is now at 50% against the death penalty. However, when it closed and the votes were recorded, it was at 38%.