Showing posts with label death penalty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death penalty. Show all posts

Friday, April 14, 2017

Virginia: Post Calls for Clemency

With reference to Blackstone, Sodom, Abraham, and Islam, the Washington Post is calling for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to grant clemency to Ivan Teleguz.

Ivan Teleguz was convicted of capital murder for hire, in 2006, when he "allegedly paid two men to kill Stephanie Yvonne Sipe, his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child."

His attorney says, however, that there were "problems" with his four day trial. Two "critical witnesses" are said to have "recanted their testimony in sworn, written statements." They now say that they gave false testimony "in exchange for leniency in their own cases." The only remaining evidence against Teleguz is the testimony of the man who did the killing. The Post says his testimony is "questionable at best," because he gave it only after he "was threatened with the death penalty." Says the Post:
 As a last resort, Teleguz’s attorneys filed a petition for clemency with  (D) requesting the execution be halted. Clearly, in Teleguz’s case, there are reasonable doubts surrounding his conviction and his sentence that were unknown to the jury at the time. Teleguz is scheduled to die on April 25 for a crime it is entirely plausible he did not commit. The law requires that when so much reasonable doubt exists, the state lacks the power to deprive a person of his most cherished natural right: life. McAuliffe should grant Teleguz’s petition for clemency. 
See story here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kenya: 2,747 Commuted Death Sentences

It is reported that Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has commuted the sentences of 2,655 males and 92 females on "death row." He also signed "a pardon warrant" that ordered the release of 102 long-term serving convicts.

Amnesty International praised the move but critics call it "an election tactic" and observe Kenya very rarely ever carries deaths sentence. Indeed, the last execution was in 1987.

It is said, however, that Kenyatta "wants to be seen as a compassionate leader" invoking "the Power of Mercy" under Article 133 of the Constitution, In 2009, former President Mwai Kibaki commuted the sentences of more than 4,000 on death row to life imprisonment.

Friday, March 18, 2016

California: More on the Cooper Case

The Daily Bulletin reports District Attorney Mike Ramos has "posted a harsh response on social media" to American Bar Association president, Paulette Brown, who supports clemency for Kevin Cooper. Says, Ramos:
“I am disgusted by the comments made by the president of the American Bar Association and the fact that they show no concern or respect for the victims and their families in this case ... Kevin Cooper committed the most horrendous crimes imaginable against the victims while they were in the sanctity of their home ... He killed a family and two little children, and left their family members to suffer a lifetime of pain,” 
Cooper was found guilty of the 1983 murders of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their daughter 10-year old daughter and an 11-year-old that was visiting. An 8-year old survived the attack. Brown, however, says there is evidence of bias and misconduct and a miscarriage of justice. Ramos calls it a "last-ditch effort at saving the life of a multiple murderer and apparently they didn’t bother to do their homework.” Furthermore, Ramos has "appealed multiple times to each the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, and each time our case gets stronger.”

See full story here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ABA Calls for Reprieve

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), the "arrest, prosecution and conviction" of one Kevin Cooper were "marred by evidence of racial bias, police misconduct, evidence tampering, suppression of exculpatory evidence, lack of quality defense counsel and a hamstrung court system.” Cooper, is an African-American. So, ABA President Paulette Brown is calling on Governor Brown to grant a reprieve of Cooper's execution, although the ABA "takes no position on the death penalty per se." Cooper was sentenced for murdering a California couple and two children. See story here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Oregon: Mercy on Death Row?

Mark Pinnell and Donald E. Cornell robbed and killed a 65-year-old man in his apartment 30 years ago. Pinnell was convicted of multiple aggravated murder counts - including aggravated murder by torture - and sentenced to death. Cornell was then tried, found guilty of murder, but acquitted of all aggravated murder charges. Pinnell had a court appointed attorney with no capital punishment experience, while Cornell was represented by "a seasoned capital punishment attorney,"

Cornell was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole and released from prison on Sept. 23, 2011, after serving 25 years and 11 months.

The 67-year old Pinnell is now the oldest inmate on Oregon's death row and dying of "severe chronic pulmonary disease." A lawyer says he has about six months to live. Pinnell is not likely to be executed, however, because Gov. Kitzhaber declared a moratorium on executions in November 2011. In a letter to the Governor, he has written:
"Please, let me die on the outside, with my friends and family near me when I pass ... I am a weak, old man. I pose no threat to society. I am very ashamed and sorry for what I did. I'm asking for mercy. Please release me from prison so that I can spend my last days near my family rather than at the Oregon State Penitentiary.''
See full story here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Georgia: Execution?

Georgia is considering whether or not to make Kelly Renee Gissendaner only the 16th female to be executed since Furman v. Georgia, Meanwhile, about 1,400 men have been executed nationwide.

Gissendaner had plotted the stabbing death of her husband, Douglas, by her boyfriend, Gregory Owen (who will be up for parole in eight years because he testified against her). The Associated Press describes the murder as follows:
Acting on her instructions, Owen ambushed her husband while she went out dancing with friends, and forced him to drive to a remote area. Then he marched him into the woods and stabbed him multiple times, prosecutors said. Owen and Gissendaner then met up and set fire to the dead man's car in an attempted cover-up, and both initially denied involvement, but Owen eventually confessed and testified against his former girlfriend. Her lawyers challenged the constitutionality of her sentence as disproportionate, given that she wasn't there when Owen killed her husband, and yet Owen will eventually be eligible for parole. But Georgia's Supreme Court voted 5-2 Monday to deny her motion, citing Owen's testimony that she pushed for murder rather than divorce so that she could get her husband's insurance money
It is said that Gissendaner "eventually took responsibility" and, today - her clemency application argues - she has been thoroughly "rehabilitated." But, her lawyers contest that many corrections employees are not willing to provide "overwhelmingly positive testimony" for fear that, if they speak up, there will be "retaliation." Says the AP:
Her clemency petition already included testimonials from dozens of spiritual advisers, inmates and prison staff who described a seriously damaged woman transformed through faith behind bars. She has shown remorse and provided hope to struggling inmates while helping guards maintain control, they said. "The spiritual transformation and depth of faith that Ms. Gissendaner demonstrates and practices is a deep and sincere expression of a personal relationship with God," Prison chaplain Susan Bishop wrote. 
Her former husband's parents and sister say they want the execution to go forward. See full story here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Georgia: No Mercy?

Warren Lee Hill shot his 18 year old girlfriend eleven times and killed her, in 1985. There followed a life-sentence. Four years later later, in prison, Hill murdered his cellmate with a board and nails. Now he is set to be executed in Georgia.

"Human rights groups" and other say his "intellectual disability" disqualify him from execution. They note that Lee has an IQ of "approximately 70" and the "emotional capacity of a young boy." The Supreme Court, of course, has ruled that executing intellectually disabled individuals violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The hitch that the Court's decision "allows states to define intellectual disability." CNN reports that Georgia operationalizes the concept as proof of mental impairment "beyond a reasonable doubt." This is said to be the "strictest standard in any jurisdiction in the nation." According to CNN:
... Hill also has the support of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Georgia NAACP and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter. The victim's family and former jurors have also expressed support for mercy in Hill's case, saying they weren't given the option of life without parole when sentencing him to death. Kammer said seven doctors agree that his client is intellectually disabled, including three doctors for the state who initially evaluated Hill and said he didn't meet Georgia's standard. Kammer said those doctors have since signed an affidavit admitting they felt rushed during Hill's examination and now believe he does meet the standard for "intellectually disabled." 
Hill's case was presented before the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles which says it will "make a decision prior to the scheduled execution," which is set for 7 p.m. tonight. See story here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Arkansas: Board Recommends Clemency

ArkansasNews.com reports that the State's Parole Board has unanimously recommended parole be granted to a James Weaver Jr., 44,  who was convicted of capital murder twenty years ago. Weaver's original sentence was "life without parole." The Board recommends that the sentence be commuted to "time already served." A County Prosecuting Attorney and County Sheriff  objected to Weaver’s application for clemency without explanation. See story here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ohio: Commutation of Death Sentence

Gov. John Kasich
The Columbus Dispatch reports Gov. John Kasich has "sided with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, and against the unanimous Ohio Parole Board" by commuting 54 year old Arthur Tyler’s death sentence, the consequence of a 1983 murder. Said Kasich:
“The questions that continue around this case are fundamental, and the irregularities in the court proceedings are troubling. Arthur Tyler’s crime against Sander Leach and his family was heinous and this commutation in no way diminishes that, and I pray that Mr. Leach’s family can find peace and healing.” 
The State's Board has previously cited "serious doubts about the evidence in the case" and recommended that the sentence be commuted and that Tyler would be made eligible for parole. The Governor, however, commuted the sentence to life without the possibility of parole.

Tyler’s lawyer said he was "extremely disappointed" at the governor’s decision to not agree with the unanimous recommendation for parole eligibility for Arthur.” See story here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Maryland: The Politics of Death, the Presidency and Mercy

At ABCNews, Brian White of the Associated Press has a lengthy, but well-written piece on Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who, although "an outspoken death penalty opponent" has yet to commute the sentences of the state's 5 "death row inmates." In a way, the piece asserts the premise by advertising that O'Malley is "considering a 2016 presidential run."

O'Malley says he will consider the sentences on a "case-by-case basis" once a "request" is made, but everyone knows he has the power to commute sentences without formal request. The piece notes that O'Malley has commuted the sentence of "a then-14-year-old boy involved in a fatal robbery" and a woman "convicted of felony murder in 1984."

In October, State lawmakers will have a chance to approve new death penalty procedures, because there have been no executions in Maryland for almost a decade. The piece also notes that any attempt to conduct an execution "would almost certainly be open to lengthy litigation" See full story here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Oregon: No "Right" to be Executed

The ABA Journal notes that the Oregon State Supreme Court has unanimously determined that the governor of Oregon "has power to grant clemency in a capital case regardless of whether the inmate in question wants to be put to death." In sum, there is no "right" to a state execution. Consequently, death row inmate Gary D. Haugen cannot refuse Gov. John Kitzhaber's clemency grant.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Oklahoma: Mercy Recommended

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has recommended clemency for a man scheduled to be executed later this month. Thirty-nine year old Brian Darrell Davis was convicted for raping and murdering his girlfriend's mother. But the Board, in a 4-1 vote, has recommended that his sentence be commuted to "life in prison without the possibility of parole."

Davis is said to have "taken responsibility" for his actions, and has apologized. But Assistant Attorney General Robert Whittaker is reported to be "disappointed" with the Board's decision. Attorney General Scott Pruitt also denounced the decision as "incomprehensible" because Davis "does not deserve our pity or clemency." See full story here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kentucky: Clemency, Death Penalty Showdown

Brett Barrouquere of the Associated Press has written an interesting and informative article on circumstances surrounding the case of one Robert Foley, who is facing the death penalty after committing six murders. In a bid to obtain gubernatorial clemency, Foley has requested funds for a "crime scene reconstructionist," a "ballistics expert" and, perhaps most importantly, a "neuropsychologist" to diagnose the potential ramifications of neurological disorders resulting from an "extensive history of head trauma." Barrouquere notes at least one other individual (Parramore Lee Sanborn, in 2011) has received funds "for a mental health expert to aide in the clemency process."

But a U.S. District Court Judge has rejected Foley's requests as being based on "the mere hope of suspicion that an expert may find something of use, and is not based on any showing of actual reasonable necessity." The judge also observed that there were no signs of adverse impact from head injury or mental shortcomings. Foley is perhaps used to such rejection. Earlier, he failed to obtain funding for a $56,000 hip replacement.

In the background, Kentucky has executed no one since 2008, and has only executed three persons in the last thirty-seven years.

See complete story here.

Colorado: Respite!

Gov. John Hickenlooper
One the more brutal blunders of media coverage of Scooter Libby's case was the notion that, if President Bush did not pardon Libby, Libby would be off to federal prison. So far as we are aware, only two analysts were informed enough to beg to differ. One, William Otis, recommended that Bush grant a commutation of Libby's prison sentence - which is what eventually happened.

The other, the Editor of this blog, noted that Bush could simply grant a respite, or a series of respites, delaying the prison sentence until Libby was able to appeal the verdict. Indeed, the Editor remains convinced that, had the President been truly convinced that Libby was innocent, a respite would have been the more intelligent decision. Regardless, for the most part, the media were clueless about the variety of forms of clemency available to the president.

In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper has granted a "reprieve" to the so-called "Chuck E Cheese killer" Nathan Dunlap. It is reported that the delay of Dunlap's execution "will stay in force until Hickenlooper or another governor lifts it," but Hickenlooper has said "it was highly unlikely that he would revisit his decision."

In 1993, Dunlap (who was 19 years old at the time) walked into a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora, shot five people in the head and took $1,500 from a safe. He had recently been fired from the restaurant.  See full story here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Georgia: Mercy Denied. Execution Halted

52 year-old Warren Lee Hill was serving a out a life sentence (for murdering his girlfriend) when he was convicted of murdering a fellow inmate (by beating him to death). Hill was recently scheduled to die by lethal injection, after being denied clemency by the State's Board of Pardons and Paroles. The State's Supreme Court also denied a request for a stay of execution. However, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has halted the execution, in part, because Hill's attorneys argue that he has "mental retardation."  Indeed, the New York Times Hill has an IQ of 70. See full story here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Texas: Call for Posthumous Pardon

CNN reports that the family of Cameron Todd Willingham (executed in Texas in 2004 for the deaths of his three daughters in fire) is seeking to "clear his name." How? By asking the state parole board for a posthumous pardon! It is reported that three "expert reviews" have concluded Willingham's conviction was based on evidence of arson that was "outdated." As it happened, the same board denied Willingham clemency before his execution. Gov. Rick Perry called Willingham a "monster," although Willingham professed his innocence in his final statement. His ex-wife, on the other hand, said he confessed to killing the girls before the execution. A jailhouse informant has recanted his statement that Willingham confessed and a judge who sat on the state court that rejected Willingham's appeal called the execution was "a miscarriage of justice." See full story here. See the Innocence Project's view of the case here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oregon: Mercy? I Don't Want No Stinkin' Mercy!

The Associated Press reports that Gov. John Kitzhaber has blocked Gary Haugen's execution with a "reprieve" (or a delay). While such decisions are not particularly rare, this one has an interesting twist to it: Haugen (a twice-convicted murderer) did not ask for the delay, and does not want it! The lack of interest on Haugen's part is consistent with the fact that he has "voluntarily waived legal appeals that could delay his execution for years and has fought to speed his punishment in protest of a criminal justice system that he says is broken." The Governor ... agrees! Yes, the Governor believes capital punishment laws are "compromised and inequitable."

Haugen's attorney says the governor's delay has placed an "onerous condition" his client, who now sits on "death row," unsure as to whether or not he will ever actually be executed! The horror! The attorney also argues that a reprieve "is not effective until accepted by the recipient" and Haugen has choosen not to accept. Finally, it is argued that the reprieve is "illegal" because it has "no specific expiration date."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Georgia: Call for Clemency

The Courier Herald contains an editorial calling on the State's Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the sentence of Warren Hill, who is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday. Hill, who has an IQ of 70, is guilty of murdering his girlfriend.The piece notes:
Nephew and family spokesperson Richard Handspike has written a detailed affidavit on behalf of his family noting that at no time was his family asked for victim impact statements or even informed of Hill’s trial proceedings. He notes that the family does “not want Mr. Hill to be executed, and we believe a sentence of life without the possibility of parole is an appropriate and just resolution for this case and for us as the family of Joseph Handspike.” 
But it also argues:
At the end of the day, justice is not about carrying out the maximum sentence possible. It is about balancing the needs of a society and the rights of the victim. Georgia gains nothing, and the victim’s family appears to be further harmed, if this execution is allowed to go forward. If victim’s rights are to matter when the family wants death, then they should also matter when a family wants clemency. 
See full editorial here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ohio: Commutation of Sentence

WYTV 33 reports Governor John R. Kasich has "commuted the death sentence of John Jeffrey Eley to life in prison without the possibility of parole." It is also reported that the "the prosecutor who pushed for a death sentence and a judge who handed it down" both opposed the execution. The 63-year old Eley was charged in relation to a 1986 shooting in Youngstown.

Gov. Kasich issued the following statement today:
"The murder of Ihsan Aydah was a heinous act that warrants severe punishment. In participating in the murder, John Jeffrey Eley, who has limited mental capacity, acted under the direction of another man who was later acquitted. Without those factors it is doubtful that Eley would have committed this crime. Additionally, the former Mahoning County prosecutor who tried Eley's case now regrets the way the case was handled and its outcome, and has called for clemency. The combined weight of these facts leads me to commute Eley's sentence to life in prison without parole ... Murder, under any circumstance, is an atrocious act and this decision in no way diminishes that or the actions of Eley. I pray that the family and friends of Ihsan Aydah can find peace." 
See full story here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

International: Commutations of Death Sentences

The Malaysian government has commuted the sentence of Basir Omar, Jaliman Salleh and Aldipal Hadanithree three "overseas Filipino workers" who were on death row. Earlier this year, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya called on Sabah Governor and Pardons Board chairman to commute the death sentences of six Filipinos (including these three). Omar's sentence has been commuted to 13 years and seven months. The sentences of Salleh and Hadani were reduced to 15 years imprisonment. See story here.

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