FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — In a heinous case on the Navajo Nation, an 11-year-old girl was lured into a van, sexually assaulted and killed. The man who has admitted responsibility is not facing the death penalty — and the tribe isn’t seeking it.
American Indian tribes for decades have been able to tell federal prosecutors if they want a death sentence considered for certain crimes on their land. Nearly all have rejected that option.
Tribes and legal experts say the decision goes back to culture and tradition, past treatment of American Indians and fairness in the justice system. Continue reading: Minneapolis Star Tribune
In a new filing, Neal Katyal is asking the high court to consider Arizona’s death penalty law — and whether the death penalty itself is unconstitutional. Buzzfeed
Frank Thompson oversaw the only two executions Oregon has completed in the last half decade. Now he works to abolish the death penalty. WNYC.org
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
GREENVILLE, S.C. —
Serial killer Todd Kohlhepp avoided a death penalty by pleading guilty Friday, but even if he had gone to trial and had been given a death sentence, he likely would not have been executed. Read more: WYFF News
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
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
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
An Arkansas judge has temporarily blocked six executions from taking place after the company that manufactured the drugs to be used in the executions filed a complaint that the drug was not meant to be used for lethal injection.
Continue reading: Amnesty International
Marie McFadden Deans spent her adult life fighting against the death penalty. Her work took her onto South Carolina and Virginia’s death rows, where she became an advocate and a friend for the condemned men. And her dedication took her to the death house, where she stood “death watch” with 34 men. Marie’s work took a terrible toil on her health, and she died in April of 2011 at the relatively young age of 70.
Marie is buried in her family plot in the historic Sardinia-Gable Cemetery in Clarendon County, South Carolina. Because of the very modest size of her estate, Marie currently does not have a head stone on her grave. Her friends, family and colleagues are now raising money for a fitting memorial. Please consider donating money to help them purchase a headstone so they can honor this wonderful woman and dedicated death penalty abolitionist. Their hope is to raise $2500 by July 1, 2017.