Posts

FEATURED POST

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Image
To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Convicted killer from infamous “Texas 7” prison escape gets execution date

Image
On December 13, 2000, seven desperate inmates pulled off the biggest prison break-out in Texas history.
They busted into the prison armory, stole weapons and stormed out of the Connally Unit in a prison truck. After orchestrating two robberies in Houston, they headed up to the Dallas area.
There, on Christmas Eve, the men held up a store in Irving and made off with $70,000 and 44 guns. But on the way out, they ran into a cop.
The escapees surrounded the Officer Aubrey Hawkins' patrol vehicle and shot him 11 times before running over his body with an SUV on the way out, according to court records.
They were finally captured in Colorado a month later.
One of the escapees killed himself before police could get him. But the rest were sent to death row, where three have since been executed.
And now, a fourth, Joseph Garcia, has a date with death.
The Bexar County killer - originally sent to prison for stabbing a man more than a dozen times - is scheduled to die by lethal injection on …

Maria Exposto: Can she avoid execution?

Image
News that a Sydney grandmother was sentenced to death for smuggling drugs into Malaysia sparked shock, alarm and condemnation across the globe.
However anti-death penalty advocates hope a final appeal and a relaxation of the country's strict anti-drug laws will save Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto from the execution chamber.
Ms Exposto, 54, yesterday suffered a cruel blow after a prosecution appeal saw her December acquittal overturned in a Malaysian court.
The Cabramatta grandmother now has the right to appeal the sentencing, with her lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah revealing he expects her to win and walk away.
Malaysia has a mandatory death penalty for anyone found guilty of carrying more than 50 grams (1.75 ounces) of an illegal drug.
The country's politicians last year voted to abolish mandatory death sentences for drug offences but those changes have not yet come into affect, AFP reported.
The country also didn't execute anyone for drug offences last year, according to H…

Ohio man with execution set for July 18 blames killing on ‘homosexual panic’

Image
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A condemned killer is asking the Ohio Parole Board for mercy, saying he experienced a “homosexual panic” of self-revulsion before killing a man he picked up at a bar more than 30 years ago.
Death row inmate Robert Van Hook was sentenced to die for fatally strangling and stabbing David Self in Cincinnati in 1985. 
Van Hook fled to Florida afterward, where he was arrested and confessed.
At the time of the killing, Van Hook was suffering from long-term effects of untreated mental, physical and sexual abuse as a child and was depressed that his life seemed to be falling apart, his attorneys argue.
He also was “troubled by increasing questions about his own sexual identity,” his federal public defenders said in a May 17 filing with the parole board.
They also said he was improperly questioned by a Cincinnati police detective after he was arrested in Florida, and should have been provided an attorney.
The parole board planned to hear arguments on Thursday for and agai…

Texas man on death row for decapitating 3 kids loses appeal

Image
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected an appeal Wednesday from a 37-year-old Rio Grande Valley man on death row for stabbing and beheading his common-law wife's 3 children 15 years ago.
John Allen Rubio's appeals lawyer argued unsuccessfully that Rubio's attorneys at his 2010 trial in Cameron County were deficient, that the trial court failed to sufficiently pay for his appellate investigation of the case and that the Texas death penalty sentencing procedure was unconstitutional.
The state's highest criminal court also refused a second supplemental appeal from Rubio as legally improper and declined to consider the merits of the arguments in that appeal.
"I have to say overall I am not surprised by the court's actions." Rubio's attorney, David Schulman, said. "I'm very, very disappointed."
He said he would ask the appeals court for a rehearing, saying he was "shocked" the judges refused the supplemental appeal that inclu…

Amnesty International Once Again Highlights Shocking Justice System in Iran

Image
The Iran that exists today is vastly different to the Iran that the history books tell us about. A country with such a colourful and spectacular history is currently being destroyed by the corrupt leadership that is torturing and executing its people for arbitrary reasons.
Amnesty International has published a report detailing some of the horrifying statistics that make Iran one of the most horrific in terms of its brutal leadership.
During the course of 2016, there were more than 500 registered executions. The emphasis is on "registered" because there were without a doubt many that were not officially recorded. More than 1/2 of the executions that take place in the world are in Iran.
Amnesty international gives statistics for 4 prisons in Iran: Rajaie Shahr (Gohardasht Karaj) Prison; Qezel Hessar Prison; Urmia Prison; and Zahedan Prison.
In ward 10 of Gohardasht Karaj Prison there are currently more than 260 prisoners - 86 of which are on death row. Ward 3 of the prison al…

Dozens of foreign ISIS brides sentenced to death in Iraq

Image
Dozens of foreign ISIS brides are being sentenced to death in Iraq as the country exacts its revenge after 3 years of jihadi occupation.
Pleading that they themselves are victims, the women were given 10 minutes to beg for their lives before judges decide their sentence.
Many of them find little sympathy with the Iraqi judiciary and locals and are despised for their support of their militant husbands, who tore the country apart between 2014 and 2017.
French citizen Djamila Boutoutao, 29, appeared in court last month and claimed: "I thought I had married a rapper. It was only when we arrived in Turkey for a week-long "holiday" that I discovered my husband was a jihadist."
"I'm a victim. My husband beat me and locked me up in a cave with my children when I refused to follow him (to Iraq)."
She reappeared in court again last week alongside 14 other women, The Guardian reported, where she begged to keep her daughter.
She is among an estimated 1,900 Frenc…

Death penalty: Belarus must be accountable to someone

Image
While President Lukashenko claims the death penalty is the will of the Belarusian people, they surely didn’t vote for it to be carried out arbitrarily and in secret. The ongoing execution of the death penalty likely has a more political cause. It was recently revealed that Kiryl Kazachok was executed with six months passing before anyone was informed of his death. Like all executions in Belarus, this one was carried out in secrecy. 
Kazachok was found guilty of killing his two children in January 2016. He called the police following the incident, before attempting to kill himself. He was sentenced to death in December 2016 and executed in October 2017. His family only learned about his death early March 2018, as his mother told the Human Rights Centre Viasna.
Belarus is the last country of Europe and Central Asia to continue to apply the death penalty. Human Rights Centre Viasna estimates that since Belarus gained its independence in 1991, more than 400 people have been executed. 
We…

Chinese man who spent 25 years in jail for murdering teenager seeks US$2.7m in compensation after conviction is thrown out

Image
Former prisoner alleges he was tortured in custody and spent more than two decades appealing before a court finally acquitted him
A Chinese man who spent more than 25 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit filed for almost 17 million yuan (US$2.7 million) in compensation on Wednesday.
Liu Zhonglin was arrested in October 1990 on suspicion of homicide, news portal Thepaper.cn reported, and his time in jail was described as the longest known period of wrongful detention in Chinese history.
In 1994 he was found guilty of killing a 19-year-old woman and given a suspended death penalty, later commuted to life in prison.
Liu was arrested at the age of 22 after he found the body of Zheng Dianrong on local farmland in his hometown in Huimin village in the northeastern province of Jilin.
The teenager had been missing for a year.
He later said he did not have a lawyer while being interrogated by police and his compensation claim alleges he was tortured in custody.
During the initial i…

Malaysian court sentences Australian grandmother to death by hanging

Image
(CNN) - An Australian woman has been sentenced to death by hanging after a Malaysian court overturned an earlier acquittal of drug smuggling charges.
According to CNN affiliate Sky News, a three-judge panel unanimously threw out the previous ruling in 54-year-old Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto's case.
The grandmother and mother of four was arrested in December 2014 while transiting through the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on a flight from Shanghai to Melbourne, according to another CNN affiliate, SBS News.
She was found in possession of 1.1 kilos (2.4 lb) of crystal methamphetamine and faced a mandatory death penalty under Malaysia's draconian drugs laws.
Exposto claimed she had no knowledge of the drugs in her bag and had been scammed by a boyfriend she met online.
According to SBS, Exposto's lawyers said she had gone to Shanghai to file documents in relation to her boyfriend's retirement from service in the US army. When she left China, Exposto claimed she was handed …

Motion requesting unanimous vote for death penalty denied by judge

Image
A Houston County Judge denied a motion to request prohibition of the death penalty without a unanimous jury vote.
Defense attorneys David Hogg and Robert Aaron Gartlan filed the motion May 3 for their client, Michael Allen Tharp. 
State’s Attorney Mark Jones filed a motion stating the Code of Alabama 1975 13A-5-46 (f) clearly sets forth that a jury recommendation of death must be based on a vote of at least 10 jurors and the verdict must be in writing specify the vote.
Judge Kevin Moulton denied the motion request for a unanimous vote for the death penalty Monday. 
Tharp’s jury trial is set to begin Aug. 27.
Tharp previously pleaded not guilty by mental disease. A mental evaluation was ordered, and in November 2017 Moulton issued an order finding Tharp competent to stand trial.
Houston County Sheriff’s investigators arrested Michael Allen Tharp on Dec. 14, 2012, two days after the slaying and robbery of his stepfather, 68-year-old Joseph Bernard Hendley.
The shooting happened at a mo…