Category Archives: United States

Overturned S.C. Sentence Tracks with Decline of Death Penalty

William Henry Bell was convicted of the murder of Dennis Hepler in 1989. The jury handed down a death sentence. Now, after almost 30 years, Bell has left his cell on death row after a decades-long effort to vacate Bell’s execution ended with the attorney general exhausting the state’s appeals process.

The vacated sentence underscores the continuing decline of the death penalty in the U.S.

Continue reading: Free Times

Rodricus Crawford Becomes 158th Death-Row Exoneree

Caddo Parish, Louisiana prosecutors formally dropped charges against Rodricus Crawford (pictured) on April 17, exonerating him in a controversial death penalty case that had attracted national attention amid evidence of race discrimination, prosecutorial excess, and actual innocence. He is the 158th person exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973. Crawford was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to death on charges he had murdered his one-year-old son. Crawford’s appellate counsel, Cecilia Kappel, argued that the testimony underlying his conviction—the opinion of a local doctor who claimed the infant had been suffocated—was contradicted by autopsy results that showed pervasive bronchopneumonia in the baby’s lungs and sepsis in his blood. After the trial, Kappel presented additional evidence from experts in the fields of pediatric pathology, pediatric neuropathology, and pediatric infectious disease that the child had died of natural causes.
Continue reading: Death Penalty Information Center

Jury Clears the Prosecutor Who Sent Cameron Todd Willingham to Death Row

After a trial of more than two weeks, a Texas jury on Wednesday found that former state prosecutor John Jackson had not committed misconduct in the 1992 death penalty trial of Cameron Todd Willingham.

By an 11-to-1 vote, a Navarro County jury rejected claims by the State Bar of Texas that Jackson made false statements, concealed evidence favorable to Willingham’s defense and obstructed justice.

The state bar had accused Jackson of failing to disclose to Willingham’s defense lawyers that jailhouse snitch Johnny Webb had been promised favorable treatment on an aggravated robbery conviction in return for testimony at Willingham’s trial.
Continue reading: The Marshall Project

The steady decline of America’s death rows

When the state of Arkansas announced plans to carry out eight executions in an 11-day period in April, it drew intense international scrutiny that flared until well after the final lethal injection in the series at the end of the month. In part, this attention was fueled by the explanation, offered by state officials, that the timetable was necessary because the supply of 1 of the state’s lethal drugs was about to expire and authorities had to carry out death penalties for eight men convicted of murder before then.
Continue reading: Washington Post

Amnesty Charleston: Urgent: Stop Arkansas’ rush to execute 8 people in 10 days

Arkansas hasn’t had an execution in 12 years, so why the sudden rush? Simple: their lethal injection drugs are about to expire.

Arkansas has exactly eight doses left of a crucial drug used to perform lethal injections, and it’s set to expire at the end of April. So the governor scheduled eight executions packed into a ten day period — with two executions per day — as if the justice system was a conveyor belt. Take Action Continue reading

We need more prosecutors questioning their pursuit of the death penalty

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala announces that her office will no longer pursue the death penalty as a sentence.
By Scott Martelle  March 17, 2017

A recently elected prosecutor in Florida announced Thursday that she would unilaterally take the death penalty off the table for murder cases handled by her office, a decision that drew a stern rebuke from some quarters, and led Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove her from a pending case against an accused cop killer. But State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who represents two counties near Orlando, also drew accolades from others. Add me to the accolade list.

Continue reading: Los Angeles Times

Update: Florida governor reassigns cop-killing case after prosecutor refuses death penalty (Chicago Tribune)

Update (3/9) ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. Rick Scott of Florida overreached last month when he issued an executive order stripping a state attorney of her authority to prosecute a man charged with killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police officer. On Monday, he also removed her from 21 other murder cases.

 

A Wiser Generation of Prosecutors

The newly elected district attorney in Denver, Beth McCann, announced last month that her office would no longer seek the death penalty. “I don’t think that the state should be in the business of killing people,” she said.

In Harris County, Tex., which includes Houston and has long been one of the most execution-friendly counties in America, the new district attorney, Kim Ogg, said there would be “very few death penalty prosecutions” under her administration.
Read more: New York Times

Donald Trump has a strong stance on capital punishment

On many issues, President Donald Trump’s opinions are murky at best. He’s offered a number of different positions on issues like abortion rights, foreign policy and even his favorite issue, immigration. There’s 1 issue, though, where Trump has remained unambiguous throughout his campaign, even dating back to his days as a real estate mogul: capital punishment.

Read more:  mic.com (scroll down to the end of that story for an excellent photo from the Jan. 17 action against the death penalty!)

Supreme Court Protest Ends in 18 Arrests

Eighteen protesters were arrested on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday morning after displaying a large “STOP EXECUTIONS!” banner calling for an end to capital punishment in America.

The demonstration was timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1977 execution by firing squad of Garry Gilmore, the first since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Similar protests have taken place every five years . . .  continue reading: National Law Journal