"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight

California's death chamber
California's death chamber
The biggest lie about Proposition (“Prop”) 66, California’s poorly drafted new death penalty law – only missing another “6” in numbering to be properly identified as the devil’s spawn – is speed.

Pro-death penalty zealots, special interest groups, and prosecutors hell-bent on political gain – including a prosecutor accused of lying under oath during a murder prosecution, another profiled by the BBC because of his infatuation with the death penalty, and of course, Mark Peterson, the Contra Costa district attorney forced to resign this month after pleading no contest to felony perjury – promised voters that under Prop 66, death row inmates would have just five years to appeal their convictions.

“Hogwash,” I wrote, and still maintain; “Prop 66 won’t fool Californians.” Because, as many of our regretful, “woke” citizens are realizing post-election, unlike carpenter James Wilson Marshall’s historic discovery of gold at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1848, Prop 66’s promised turbo-charging of California’s machinery of death is twenty-four carat “fool’s gold.”

But this is not strictly an “I told you so” column despite the fact that several judges on California’s highest court recently indicated that they too believe Prop 66 usurps the judiciary’s authority to decide the complex, life and death issues at stake in death penalty litigation. And there’s no need to rehash the indisputable truth that: there are not enough willing and qualified death penalty lawyers in California – and they don’t grow on trees; Prop 66, and the death penalty generally, exact a horribly inhumane and unjust toll on the children of the condemned; Prop 66’s death penalty deterrence argument is pure shibboleth; unacceptable racial bias persists in capital punishment as illustrated by the environmental disaster in Flint, Michigan; Prop 62, the opposing ballot initiative that would have ended capital punishment forever in our state, appeals to the better nature of our angels and could have marked the progress of a maturing society for conscientious Californians; or, finally, that California could have tipped the balance in the national debate on the death penalty.

Instead, this column affirms that despite last fall’s bamboozled vote approving Prop 66 by the barest margin, on human rights, California is still better than Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, and Texas! We understand executions are hardly an exact science. That’s a major reason they’ve been stalled so long in the Golden State. And it’s also why, in addition to the substantive legal challenges jeopardizing Prop 66, they’re not slated to start again anytime soon.

Californians simply aren’t quick to torture citizens to death and cover it up – like in North Korea or in other parts of the United States even. Yup, that’s right, I’m talking about you Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Arizona, and you abominable others too (as alluded to above, when it comes to the death penalty, as with mostly everything else, “don’t mess with Texas!”).

Civilized, peaceful, fiscally savvy, state and federal constitution-loving Californians know we can’t afford 18 executions all at once, which is, at a minimum, the number of inmates out of appeals and immediately eligible to be put to death. Californians don’t want our courts paralyzed and rendered completely dysfunctional due to Prop 66 and the emotionally draining, morally bankrupt, money-sucking demands necessitated by the death penalty. Rather, we need every scarce resource available to fund the entirety of California’s justice system – civil, criminal, administrative, etcetera – not to mention our state government, our health care system, our school system, and many other things affecting large swaths of the population.

In fact, here in California, we need every penny of the millions of dollars we routinely chuck out chasing lethal vengeance. We need that money, manpower, and precious moral credibility that is lost through state-sanctioned murder. We need it to invest in our children, our fragile economy, and our threatened environment.

It’s long past time we ended capital punishment in California. We should have done it on November 8, but we can’t give up the fight. For as the incomparable civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., counseled, “the time is always right to do what is right.”


Source: Counter Punch, Stephen Cooper, June 22, 2017. The author is a former D.C. public defender who worked as an assistant federal public defender in Alabama between 2012 and 2015. He has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers in the United States and overseas. He writes full-time and lives in Woodland Hills, California. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by:STEPHEN COOPER.

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Mumbai 1993 blasts: Abu Salem to escape noose

Abu Salem
Abu Salem
Salem cannot get a death term or any jail-term over 25 years as per the terms of his extradition agreed upon by India and Portugal.

Mumbai: A special TADA court convicted extradited gangster Abu Salem for his alleged role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts on Friday, on charges including murder. 

However, Salem cannot get a death term or any jail-term over 25 years as per the terms of his extradition agreed upon by India and Portugal.

CBI’s lawyer Deepak Salvi said, “Due to the extradition terms, wherein Salem cannot be punished with death, we will request the court to give him life-term, instead of death penalty, even though he deserved death penalty.” 

Another CBI source said, “Salem’s extradition, which was made on the basis of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings of which India and Portugal are signatories, included a few key conditions — if extradited for trial in India, he would neither be conferred with death penalty nor be subjected to imprisonment for a term beyond 25 years.

According to Advocate Sujay Kantawala, the awarding of death penalty to 1993 blast accused Abu Salem would not be violating the extradition treaty signed by India as the crime by Salem was “a crime against humanity and involved terrorist activity” and so giving him the death penalty would not violate any extradition treaty.

Source: The Asian Age, June 21/22, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Death sentence for fatal car explosion suspect in Bahrain

Manama
The court sentenced a second suspect to life in prison for his role in the explosion that shocked the nation

Manama: A court in Bahrain on Monday sentenced to death a defendant accused of planting a bomb that killed a Bahraini woman and injured three children in June last year.

The court sentenced a second suspect to life in prison for his role in the explosion that shocked the nation.

The woman was killed and the children were injured when their car was hit by a bomb blast in East Eker, south of the capital Manama.

“A terrorist act claimed the life of a woman and injured three children who were with her in a car that was hit by shrapnel after a bomb exploded,” the director general of Manama’s police directorate said.

Ahmad Al Hammadi, the head of the anti-terrorism public prosecution, on Monday said that 10 suspects were involved in the case.

The investigation launched immediately after the attack led to the identification of a suspect currently a fugitive in Iran and working for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who tasked the two defendants with carrying out an explosion attack against police patrols.

The two agreed, obtained the explosive device from the fugitive and planted on the road side.

However, they exploded it as a private car was passing by, resulting in the death of the woman and the injuries of the children accompanying her.

The two perpetrators were eventually identified and arrested, Al Hammadi said.

They can challenge the verdict by taking the case to the Court of Appeals and eventually to the Court of Cassation, he added.

Source: Gulf News, June 19, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Nebraska inmate facing death penalty files motion contesting its constitutionality

Patrick Schroeder
Patrick Schroeder
TECUMSEH, Neb. — A recent change in lethal injection procedure intended to enable Nebraska to carry out executions has been challenged by an inmate facing a potential death sentence.

Concerns over the new drug protocol are among the 11 arguments in a motion filed this week by attorneys for Patrick Schroeder, who seeks to have Nebraska’s death penalty law declared unconstitutional.

Schroeder, who is already serving a life sentence for murder, now faces the death penalty for allegedly choking to death his cellmate, Terry Berry Jr., on April 15 inside a special management unit cell at the Tecumseh State Prison.

He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Johnson County District Court and enter a plea.

Instead, District Judge Vicky Johnson scheduled a July 28 hearing on Schroeder’s motion to overturn the death penalty.

“Our society can no longer kill to show that killing is wrong,” stated the motion to quash, filed by defense attorneys Todd Lancaster and Sarah Newell with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy.

Johnson County Attorney Rick Smith, who is prosecuting the case with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, declined to comment.

“We will argue it at the hearing,” he said.

Among issues raised by Schroeder in the 32-page motion:

  • The death penalty in Nebraska is racially discriminatory, considering that only one of the nine men sent to death row since the law was amended in 2002 is white. Five are Hispanic and three are black.
  • The death penalty is applied unevenly based upon geography. Since 2002, all death penalty cases have originated in four of Nebraska’s 93 counties: Douglas, Madison, Scotts Bluff and Hall.
  • Nebraska’s death penalty procedure requires juries to decide the aggravating factors necessary to impose death, but it requires a three-judge panel to weigh the mitigating factors in a defendant’s favor. Such a two-step process that limits the jury’s role is similar to one used in Florida that was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016.
  • Evolving standards of decency in a “mature society” have made the carrying out of executions increasingly rare in the U.S. Just 10 states are responsible for 83 percent of the 1,442 executions since 1976, the motion stated. Last year, the 20 total executions carried out were in five of the 31 states with capital punishment. Nebraska has not executed an inmate since 1997, when the method was the electric chair.
  • The highest courts in the states and the nation have previously banned the execution of juveniles, the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled. They also have prohibited methods once commonly used as cruel and unusual punishment.


“The rejection of the nooses, bullets, gas and electricity signaled not only the discomfort with the method of execution, but with the death penalty itself,” the motion stated.

Though Schroeder has not been convicted of the prison homicide, let alone sentenced, the motion was filed at this early stage to properly preserve the issues for appeal.

The death penalty challenge comes several months after voters reinstated capital punishment. More than 60 percent of those who cast ballots in November voted to reverse the Legislature’s repeal of the death penalty in 2015.

In an effort to create a viable death penalty procedure in the wake of that vote, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services changed the lethal injection protocol earlier this year. That change is under attack by Schroeder.

Under the former protocol, inmates were to be put to death with injections of three substances in a specific order. But obtaining some of the drugs specified in the protocol became increasingly difficult for prison officials.

The new protocol gives the prisons director wide latitude in deciding the types and quantities of drugs to be used. He also may opt to use a single drug, as long as it first causes the inmate to lose consciousness.

Schroeder’s motion argues that the Legislature has unlawfully delegated its lawmaking authority to the prisons director to decide what drugs to use.

The motion also challenges the death penalty statutes for giving too little guidance as to when the penalty should be sought and applied. As a result, individual county attorneys decide who will be put to death in a manner that is “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

“The decision to file aggravating circumstances can be affected by the legal experience of the prosecutor, the size and resources of the particular county, any prejudice or bias of the prosecutor, the political ambition of the prosecutor or other political circumstances,” the motion stated.

Source: Omaha World Herald, Paul Hammel / World-Herald Bureau, June 21, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

U.S.: Why plummeting public support for the death penalty doesn't mean it's going away

Texas' death chamber
Support for the death penalty is at a 4-decade low among the American public, but that may be of little consequence in the struggle over the future of capital punishment. That's because the death penalty is the practice not of the nation, but rather of a handful of states.

The federal government is a minor player in criminal justice, housing just 1 in 8 inmates. The federal government executed 2 prisoners on the same day in 1957, but implemented capital punishment only four times in the 60 years since. It's states that charge and sentence almost all the individuals who commit the crimes that lead to capital sentences (e.g., murder). And, more specifically, it's just 5 of those states that are the true force behind capital punishment, accounting for 90 % of the 122 executions carried out in the past 3 years.

Texas stands out for its particularly outsized role, accounting for over 1/3 of capital punishment. Florida, Georgia and Missouri each account for about 1 in 7 executions, and Oklahoma accounts for about 1 in 12. The other 45 states collectively account for only 10 % of prisoner executions, even though the law in 30 of those states allows capital punishment.

Rather than ask "why does the United States have capital punishment," it makes more sense to ask why these particular 5 states apply it so often. Obviously, all are politically conservative states within or bordering the South. But this is also true of Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee, none of which has put a prisoner to death in recent years (indeed, Louisiana came close to abolishing the death penalty in this year's legislative cycle.)

Stanford Law School Professor Robert Weisberg points to state-specific processes and incentives as drivers of the death penalty in a subset of conservative states. Most notably, he says, "Texas has elected judges. It is also located in the prosecutor-friendly 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. Although the Supreme Court occasionally slaps down the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and its federal accomplice, the Fifth Circuit, for allowing egregiously unfair capital trials, on the whole those lower courts have been happy to give Texas prosecutors a generously wide berth."

Most states have abandoned the death penalty de jure or de facto. But in the absence of change in the handful of states that combine punitive views on crime with legal processes that facilitate capital punishment, the practice will remain a part of the criminal justice system.

Source: The Washington Post, Opinion, June 21, 2017. Keith Humphreys is a Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and is an affiliated faculty member at Stanford Law School and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Alabama Death-Row Inmate Wins High Court Battle Over Mental Health Experts

A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Alabama death-row inmate was denied his constitutional right to an independent mental health expert to help the defense team in his murder trial.

James Edmund McWilliams Jr. challenges his death sentence for robbing, raping and killing convenience store clerk Patricia Reynolds in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1984.

Months before he murdered Reynolds, McWilliams attended couple's therapy with his pregnant wife and underwent psychological testing, which found that he is "extremely disturbed" and "has much internal anxiety."

While three doctors nevertheless concluded he was competent to stand trial, his defense counsel portrayed McWilliams during the penalty phase of his trial as someone who grew up with significant psychological problems. McWilliams and his mother testified that he sustained head injuries as a child and had a history of blacking out and hallucinating.

An expert appointed by the trial judge reported his findings simultaneously to the court, the prosecution and the defense 2 days before McWilliams' sentencing hearing.

The expert diagnosed McWilliams with organic personality syndrome, but defense counsel did not have a chance to discuss the findings with the expert or learn what the diagnosis meant for the purposes of mitigation.

Last year, McWilliams petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, arguing he was "precluded from meaningfully participating in the judicial sentencing hearing and did not receive a fair opportunity to rebut the state's psychiatric experts."

His case is nested inside the high court's 1984 decision in Ake v. Oklahoma, which held that poor criminal defendants using a defense of insanity are entitled to an expert to help support their claim.

McWilliams was charged by Alabama just a month after Ake was decided. His appeals over the years have been unsuccessful, with the 11th Circuit affirming the lower courts' denial of relief.

5 months after agreeing to take up the case, the Supreme Court reversed the 11th Circuit and ruled 5-4 Monday that McWilliams did not receive the assistance he was entitled to under Ake.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, said that Ake does not require just an examination, but also requires the state to provide the defense access to a competent psychiatrist who will also help in evaluation, preparation and presentation.

"We are willing to assume that Alabama met the examination portion of this requirement by providing for Dr. [John] Goff's examination of McWilliams. But what about the other 3 parts?" Breyer wrote. "The dissent emphasizes that Dr. Goff was never ordered to do any of these things by the trial court. But that is precisely the point. The relevant court order did not ask Dr. Goff or anyone else to provide the defense with help in evaluating, preparing, and presenting its case."

McWilliams' requests for additional assistance under Ake were rejected by the judge in his case, according to the ruling.

"Since Alabama's provision of mental health assistance fell so dramatically short of what Ake requires, we must conclude that the Alabama court decision affirming McWilliams's conviction and sentence was 'contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,'" Breyer said.

The Supreme Court said the 11th Circuit should determine on remand "whether access to the type of meaningful assistance in evaluating, preparing, and presenting the defense that Ake requires could have made a difference" in McWilliams' trial.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonio Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Breyer in the majority.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissenting opinion, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

Alito said Ake "did not clearly establish that a defendant is entitled to an expert who is a member of the defense team."

"In Ake, we held that a defendant must be provided 'access to a competent psychiatrist' in 2 circumstances: 1st, 'when [the] defendant demonstrates to the trial judge that his sanity at the time of the offense is to be a significant factor at trial,' and, 2nd, at the sentencing phase of a capital trial, 'when the State presents psychiatric evidence of the defendant's future dangerousness,'" Alito wrote.

"The question that we agreed to review concerns the type of expert that must be provided. Did Ake clearly establish that a defendant in the 2 situations just noted must be provided with the services of an expert who functions solely as a dedicated member of the defense team as opposed to a neutral expert who examines the defendant, reports his or her conclusions to the court and the parties, and is available to assist and testify for both sides? Did Ake speak with such clarity that it ruled out 'any possibility for fairminded disagreement'? The answer is 'no.' Ake provides no clear guidance one way or the other."

Source: courthousenews.com, June 21, 2017


Supreme Court ruling in capital case mandates psychiatric assistance for indigent defendants


US Supreme Court
The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday in favor of a man who has been sentenced to death in Alabama, holding that he had not received "the psychiatric examination and assistance necessary to prepare an effective defense based on his mental condition" as required after the 1985 case Ake v. Oklahoma. James McWilliams was convicted of raping and killing a convenience store clerk in 1984. At trial, the defense counsel repeatedly moved to continue the court proceedings so they could have an "expert" evaluate McWilliams' psychiatric report. The judge denied the requests, telling the defense they could have until 2 p.m. on the day of sentencing to look over the report, which the defense had only acquired 2 days earlier. The judge, taking the position that McWilliams was faking and exaggerating his mental illness, sentenced him to death.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out that the precedent set in Ake goes beyond simply examining an indigent defendant, but also requires assistance:

We are willing to assume that Alabama met the examination portion of this requirement by providing for Dr. Goff's examination of McWilliams. But what about the other 3 parts? Neither Dr. Goff nor any other expert helped the defense evaluate Goff's report or McWilliams' extensive medical records and translate these data into a legal strategy. Neither Dr. Goff nor any other expert helped the defense prepare and present arguments that might, for example, have explained that McWilliams' purported malingering was not necessarily inconsistent with mental illness. Neither Dr. Goff nor any other expert helped the defense prepare direct or cross-examination of any witnesses, or testified at the judicial sentencing hearing himself.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, issued a strongly-worded dissent, claiming the Ake decision was intentionally ambiguous, and that more deference should have been granted to Alabama's Supreme Court ruling.

The death penalty continues to be a point of contention across the US. Earlier this month the Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution granted by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit for Robert Melson, who challenged the use of midazolam in the 3-drug cocktail used in Alabama executions, arguing that it does not properly insensate prisoners to the pain of lethal injection. In May the Delaware House of Representatives passed a bill that would reinstate the death penalty. In April the Texas Department of Criminal Justice sued the Food and Drug Administration for banning a shipment of lethal injection drugs to prison officials. Earlier in April Amnesty International released an annual report revealing the US to not be among the world's top 5 executioners since 2006. However, in March the Mississippi house approved a bill allowing firing squad executions. In March, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a new bill which stated that the death penalty may only be imposed by a judge upon unanimous recommendation from the jury. In January Ohio's lethal injection protocol was deemed unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

Source: jurist.org, June 21, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

New Crown Prince must prove this is more than just Saudi spin

Mohammed bin Salman
Mohammed bin Salman is the new crown prince and heir to the Saudi throne.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia has appointed his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince and heir to the throne in an attempt to deflect criticism of his increasingly brutal regime.

The new crown prince has repeatedly defended the abuses of his father, including the mass execution of 47 people in January 2016.

The Crown Prince, then Minister of Defence, claimed that all those killed were “terrorists” who were executed following fair trials. In fact, they included people arrested for simply attending a peaceful protest and convicted on the basis of false confessions extracted through torture. Those killed included Ali al-Ribh, who was just 17 at the time of his execution.

There is now great concern about three young pro-democracy protestors who could be executed at any moment on King Salman’s orders. Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher were all juveniles when arrested.

Prince Mohammed record has also come under fire for presiding over the Saudi intervention in Yemen as Defence Minister since 2015.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve, said: “This is an attempt by an ageing dictator to fool the world into believing he is prepared to change. The reality is Prince Mohammed has stood alongside and publically defended the King as young men have been tortured and executed for peacefully protesting while he has led the internationally condemned intervention in Yemen. Change will only come if the Crown Prince puts an end to the execution of juveniles, otherwise this is little more than routine spin to distract from the gravest human rights abuses.”

Price Mohammed defended the mass executions of 47 people in 2016 in an interview with the Economist.

➤ More about the cases of Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, can be found here.

Source: Reprieve, June 21, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Virginia: William Morva attorneys ask governor to stop execution

William Charles Morva's attorneys are asking that the convicted murderer's execution - scheduled for July 6 - be halted by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

In a petition filed Tuesday, the Virginia Capital Representation Center says that Morva has mental illness that was never adequately taken into account during his 2008 trial, and that life imprisonment would be a more appropriate punishment for him. The attorneys group also asked that McAuliffe order mental health care for Morva.

"For more than a decade, William Morva has suffered from a serious psychotic disorder similar to schizophrenia," a statement from the attorney group said.

"Mr. Morva has never received treatment for his mental illness, although administration of anti-psychotic medications has proven successful in controlling symptoms of people similarly affected."

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy wrote in an email Tuesday that the governor, who is presently in Europe on a trade mission set to run through June 30, and a team will review the petition.

"We'll make an announcement when that review is complete," Coy wrote.

The attorneys' statement said Morva believes local law enforcement and the administration of former President George Bush conspired to harass and unfairly arrest him, that he had a life-threatening gastrointestinal condition that required him to spend hours on the toilet every day and "adhere to a diet of raw meat, berries, and pinecones."

The statement said Morva felt called "to lead indigenous tribes on an unexplained quest" and that "remote tribes would recognize his leadership status from his facial features."

In 2006, Morva, then a 24-year-old Blacksburg resident, was jailed and awaiting trial on theft-related charges when he complained of falling from his bunk and was taken to what was then called Montgomery Regional Hospital.

There, Morva knocked out a sheriff's deputy who was guarding him, took his gun and killed hospital security officer Derrick McFarland. The next day Morva killed Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Sutphin.

In 2008, Morva was convicted of 3 counts of capital murder, 1 for each victim and a 3rd for killing 2 people in less than 3 years, which is a capital offense in Virginia.

In the appeal to McAuliffe, the attorneys wrote that the jury that recommended the death penalty for Morva was not given accurate information about his mental condition.

Jurors were told Morva had a "schizotypal personality disorder" that included odd beliefs and attitudes but was not treatable, the attorneys' statement read.

But a fuller evaluation conducted later, during Morva's appeals, determined that he had a more serious diagnosis of delusional disorder, a condition that would make him unable to tell reality from delusion, the attorneys wrote.

"I hope that Governor McAuliffe will be able to put himself in William Morva's shoes and feel what it must be like to live in a reality that no one else does and to worry every day that the people who are supposed to care the most about you are conspiring to hurt you," Dawn Davison, one of Morva's attorneys, said in the statement.

Morva's appeals ran for years after his conviction, until the U.S. Supreme Court in February declined to consider his case.

The most recent execution in Virginia was Ricky Javon Gray's in January. He died by lethal injection for the 2006 murders of 2 sisters in Richmond during a rampage that included killing their parents.

In April, McAuliffe commuted Ivan Teleguz's sentence from death to life in prison in a murder-for-hire case. The governor said then that he did not think Teleguz was innocent but acted because the sentencing phase of Teleguz's trial had been unfair, with jurors given false information.

Source: roanoke.com, June 20, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Georgia: Prosecutors expected to seek death penalty for prison escapees

Inmates Ricky Dubose (left) and Donnie Russell Rowe
Inmates Ricky Dubose (left) and Donnie Russell Rowe

Rick Dubose and Donnie Rowe entered the courtroom in orange prison jump suits, their hands and ankles shackled, flanked by several deputies.

The men appeared before Judge Brenda Trammell. It was their first appearance since being extradited back to Georgia after being captured in Tennessee following a massive three-day man hunt.

Prosecutors said they expect to see the death penalty against the men.

Dubose and Rowe escaped during a prison bus transfer and overpower two corrections officers. They're accused of taking the guns from the officers - Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue - and shooting them to death before making their escape.

A three-day manhunt ended last Thursday in Tennessee.

The duo were extradited and brought back to Georgia this week.

Dubose and Rowe have violent pasts


"I've changed for the best...No more asking me for stuff if you aint changed dont bother asking me for anything im done with my old life true friends will understand."

Ricky Dubose posted those words on Facebook on Sept. 8, 2013.

A year later, Dubose would be sentenced to 20 years in prison with no chance of parole.

Less than four years later, Dubose would the subject of an intense manhunt after authorities said he and another inmate, Donnie Rowe, killed two corrections officers and fled.

Dubose, 24, was serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted in the 2014 armed robbery of an elderly homeless veteran who had said that he thought of Dubose like a grandson.

According to the case summary provided by the U.S. District Attorney's Office, Dubose and another man, Darrell Eugene Montford, were planning to rob a store on Sept. 3, 2014.

The two had cell-phone conversations, which were recorded, where they planned the robbery.

"You got a little mask and [expletive] for you," Dubose is heard saying. "Like something to cover you, put over your face a little bit?"

They met a 67-year-old man at a gas station, purportedly to buy a .45-caliber handgun. As he handed the gun to Montford to examine, he said Montford took out a 9-mm handgun and then demanded his wallet.

As the victim went to hand over his wallet, he said that Montford, unprovoked, shot him in the hand with his own gun. The suspects then ordered the victim to the ground and took his wallet, which contained $120 in cash, a debit card and driver's license.

Montford and Dubose were later arrested. At one point, the district attorney's office said that Dubose was going to testify against Montford but instead "attempted to frustrate justice by preventing the State from convicting Montford." Montford ended up receiving a life sentence after being found guilty.

Dubose pleaded guilty to armed robbery, aggravated assault and theft by taking. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole, and was eligible for release in 2034.

Prior to that, Dubose had previous convictions on credit card fraud, financial identity fraud, theft by taking, burglary, robbery and a single conviction for entering a vehicle.

When he was on the outside of prison, Dubose was reportedly part of the Ghostface Gangsters. Despite the fact that his accomplice in the armed robbery that put him behind bars was black, while in prison, Dubose was said to be associated with several gangs affiliated with white supremacy.

Dubose's mother told our Atlanta station -WXIA-TV - on Wednesday that he had hurt his family enough and urged him to turn himself in.

Donnie Rowe had just finished a prison sentence in Tennessee seven months earlier when a one-night violent crime spree in Georgia landed him in jail for the rest of his life.

In October 2001, he and another man robbed a man at a rest stop on Interstate 75 and then forced his way into a Super 8 motel room in Bibb County.

One of the victims testified Rowe demanded his money and said, "he should kill me for only having $3."

Rowe then fired a single shot from a 32-caliber handgun into the headboard just inches away from where another guest in the room was sitting.

Rowe was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Behind bars


At some point, Rowe and Dubose met behind bars. 

Department of Corrections Assistant Commissioner Ricky Myrick said 43-year-old Rowe and Dubose have been cell mates more than once, but he wasn't sure whether they were cell mates at Baldwin State Prison just prior to their escape.

Myrick said the two have known each other for "quite a while".

Source: WMAZ-TV, June 21, 2017


Death penalty is 'expressed intention' for Georgia inmates accused of killing correctional officers


A Georgia judge said today the death penalty is the "expressed intention" for inmates Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose, who were on the run for over 48 hours after 1 of them shot and killed 2 correctional officers.

A Putnam County judge did not grant bond for the men. Their next court date was set for Sept. 18.

Rowe and Dubose were on a transport bus on June 13 when they allegedly breached a protective gate, reaching Baldwin State Prison officers Christopher Monica, 42, and Curtis Billue, 58, at the front of the bus. The inmates allegedly disarmed and killed them both, officials said. It was unclear which inmate shot and killed the 2 officers.

The prisoners, armed with the officers' weapons, then allegedly carjacked a nearby vehicle and spent over 48 hours on the run.

They were captured in Tennessee on June 15 after leading police on a high-speed chase.

Rowe and Dubose were cellmates and friends in prison, and may have planned their escape; however, the bus ride on June 13 was unscheduled, officials said.

At the time of the shooting, 31 other inmates were on board the bus, which was en route to a diagnostic facility when the escape took place. Those inmates provided assistance to investigators, officials said.

Rowe was serving life without parole for armed robbery, the department of corrections said, and Dubose was serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery.

The Georgia Department of Corrections said in a statement that the slain officers "were known for their unwavering commitment to their job and their love of family."

Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Gregory Dozier said, "Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of 2 of our officers, who are our family."

Source: go.com, June 21, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Myanmar: 'Exorcist' who pled guilty to murdering 3 children sentenced to death by hanging

Rangoon, Myanmar
The self-proclaimed 'exorcist' who beat 3 children to death has been handed the death sentence, a court ruled earlier today.

After pleading guilty to the murder charges last November, the perpetrator, Tun Naing, was tried under Sections 302 and 325 for committing grievous harm and murder. 

Today, the Yangon Southern District Court sentenced him to 7 years in jail under Section 325, and to death by hanging under Section 302, Mizzima reports.

Tun Naing was arrested last October for beating 3 children - aged 3 years, 2 years, and 8 months - to death in an attempt to rid their bodies of evil spirits. He also reportedly gave the children's families and other villagers 'blessed' water and put them in a 'trance', and killed the children as they watched. Police reports noted that the bodies showed signs of being kicked, punched, and stamped on.

While the death penalty still exists in Myanmar, it is rarely carried out. The most recent death sentence was handed out in the case of Uruma, the man who was found guilty of leading the October attacks on the Maungdaw border posts. 

According to official records, the last known execution under the death sentence took place in 1988.

In January 2014, then-President Thein Sein commuted all outstanding death sentences to life in prison.

Today, those handed the death penalty can make an appeal to the Chief Justice within a week to commute the verdict to a life sentence. If their appeal is rejected, a similar appeal can be made to the President.

Source: coconuts.co, June 20, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

UAE: Filipina on death row in Al Ain spared

Jennifer Dalquez
Filipina maid has been acquitted from the murder charge, sentenced to 5 years

The Filipina domestic worker sentenced to death in Al Ain for killing her employer has been saved from death row, a Philippine envoy said.

Jennifer Dalquez, 30, a domestic worker, was given the death penalty by the Al Ain Court of First Instance in May 2015 after she was found guilty of killing her employer in December 2014. 

She claimed it was self-defence because her employer tried to rape her.

Philippine Ambassador Constancio Vingno Jr said the hearing for the case of Jennifer Dalquez was held on Monday.

"Ms Dalquez was acquitted for the murder charge. She will not be paying diyyah or blood money. However, she was sentenced for 5 years for theft for stealing the mobile phone of the person who was killed, less the number of years she had spent in jail," Vingno told Gulf News.

Vingno said Dalquez was arrested about a week after the incident on December 7, 2014. This means she has been serving time for 2 1/2 years since.

"We are still waiting for the official report from our lawyer to ascertain the details of the case, but this is definitely good news for her family and the Filipino people."

Dalquez' parents visited her in Al Ain in October 2015 and in March 2017, through the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. 

Source: Gulf News, June 20, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Bali police in frantic search for Kerobokan escapees

Bali's Kerobokan Prison
Bali's Kerobokan Prison
JAKARTA: Bali police continued a search for four foreign inmates who escaped from a high-security prison on the Indonesian resort island of Bali after digging a 15m-long tunnel under the prison’s walls.

Prison guards and local police officers found the tunnel on Monday. It led to a road outside Kerobokan Prison, which houses more than 1,000 inmates, including many foreigners convicted of crimes including murder and drug offenses.

The fugitives include Shaun Edward Davidson, a 33-year-old Aus­tralian from Perth who made headlines in his homeland when he was sentenced to a year in prison in September after being caught using someone else’s passport.

The other escaped inmates are Dimitar Nikolov Iliev, 43, of Bulgaria; Sayed Mohammed Said, 31, of India; and Tee Kok King, 50, of Malaysia, said Syarpani, a spokesman for the government agency that oversees prisons, reported New York Times.

The prison, which is west of Denpasar, the island’s capital, is only a few kilometres from Bali’s internationally famous beaches and resorts.

Police said the four men used a fork and a bucket to dig the tunnel which was around 50cm by 75cm wide, Daily Mail Australia reported.

It quoted the head of Kerobokan prison, Tony Nainggolan, as saying officials suspect the tunnel took more than a week to build.

Bandung police chief Yudith Satriya Hananta said special police members entered the jail yesterday.

“We want to check the tunnel. Where it goes, how deep it is and find out all things, to anticipate if they may still be trapped there,” he told News Corp Australia from inside Kerobokan prison. There are now calls for security at the overcrowded and understaffed jail to be increased.

Police have questioned 10 jail guards who were on duty at the time of the escape but it is unclear how the men escaped so easily.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, in January 2016 Davidson was due in court in Perth on charges of possession of methamphetamine and cannabis, and two other offenses. When he didn’t attend, an arrest warrant was issued.

Davidson fled the country, arriving at Bali’s international airport from Perth.

Davidson was arrested months later by the Indonesian authorities, who had been looking for him after having received tips that he overstayed his tourist visa and was using false documents, the newspaper reported.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an e-mail reply to questions that it had been “advised by Indonesian authorities of an alleged escape from Kerobokan Prison of several prisoners, including an Australian man,” but it declined to comment further.

Kerobokan has long had a grim reputation for overcrowding, corrupt guards and facilities below international standards.

Among the prison’s most notable foreign inmates in recent years were members of the so-called Bali Nine group of Australians who were arrested in 2005 trying to smuggle 18.5 pounds of heroin out of the resort island. The group’s two ringleaders, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were executed by firing squad in 2015.

Source: The Straits Times, June 21, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!