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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Wanted dead, not alive: France's approach to French jihadists

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French citizens are among the biggest contingent of overseas fighters who have joined IS, with around 1,000 nationals estimated by counter-terror officials to have travelled to Iraq and Syria. France doesn't want them back.
France's attitude to the killing of its citizens in Syria fighting for the Islamic State group has rarely been as frankly stated as it was in the lead up to the fall of Raqa.
"We are committed along with our allies to the destruction of Daesh (Islamic State) and we're doing everything to that end," Defence Minister Florence Parly told reporters at the weekend.
"What we want is to go to the end of this combat and of course if jihadists die in the fighting, then I'd say it's for the best," she added.
French citizens are among the biggest contingent of overseas fighters who have joined IS, with around 1,000 nationals estimated by counter-terror officials to have travelled to Iraq and Syria.
Their return home to a country that ha…

Moroccan human rights minister calls homosexuals ‘scum’

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Homosexuality is still punishable by death in four African states
The Moroccan Minister for Human Rights, Mustapha Ramid, has received criticism, after he called homosexuals “scum” last month.
Yesterday he refused to take back his words, justifying that his remarks were against homosexuality itself, rather than homosexual people.
So not much better then.
He first made the remarks after a meeting on torture prevention, when a journalist asked him for comment on the treatment of homosexuals in Morocco.
“Why are you asking me about homosexuality too?” Ramid asked.
Trying to dismiss the journalist he continued “this is too much. Too much. It’s a shame that homosexuality has a value now. Why is everyone asking me about it?”
He then described homosexuals with the insulting Arabic word “Awsakh,” which translates to trash, dirt, or scum.
Ironically, this week, a museum devoted to Yves Saint Laurent, will be opened in Marrakesh, where the gay fashion designer did some of his most famous work.

Cuba Abstained from UN Vote Condemning LGBTQ Death Penalty

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Cuba abstained from participating in a vote in the United Nations that sought to issue a resolution condemning the death penalty based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The initiative condemning “the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations” obtained 27 votes in favor, 13 against and seven abstentions.
Disregarding the importance of an initiative that “raises the grave concern that the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women” and that “poor and economically vulnerable people and foreigners are disproportionately subject to the death penalty,” Cuba abstained from voting with apparent disinterest.
The resolution, backed by Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia and Switzerland, did not receive a vote from Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea or Cuba. It was the only Latin American countr…

Iran: Juvenile Offender on Death Row in Ardabil Prison

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HRANA News Agency – Mehrab Eyvazi, juvenile offender from Ardabil was arrested at the age of 17 with nine other defendants. 
Mr. Eyvazi was accused of participation in kidnapping and rape. He was severely beaten at the police station and was threatened with rape by the police officer while he was naked in front of the camera. 
Mr. Eyvazi was sentenced to death, despite his young age. He believes that the verdict has been issued just based on his confessions which have been obtained while he was denied to access his family and lawyer and was subjected to torture and ill-treatment.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), according to two relevant incidents, a case with 10 defendants was opened in the judicial district in Ardabil, in addition to the plaintiff, at least 4 defendants were under the age of 18 years.
The detainees were charged with rape, filming the action and kidnapping. Three young girls were also present among the accused.
Branch tw…

Court: Examine if Austin crime lab botched death penalty evidence

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The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday ordered a closer examination of death row inmate Areli Escobar’s claims that shoddy work by the Austin police crime lab compromised evidence in his case.
Escobar is seeking to have his conviction overturned, and a new trial ordered, after a Travis County jury sentenced him to death in the 2009 sexual assault and stabbing of his neighbor, 17-year-old Bianca Maldonado, an LBJ High School student who was attacked at her East Austin apartment with her year-old son, who survived, nearby.
In a brief order issued Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals directed state District Judge David Wahlberg to examine claims that the crime lab produced false or misleading conclusions from DNA evidence in the case, particularly on tests performed on the shirt, jeans and shoes that tied Escobar to the murder.
Defense lawyers also argued that problems discovered at the crime lab after Escobar’s trial — including poorly trained analysts, reports of cro…

Hours before execution, Tourniquet Killer granted 90-day stay at DA's request

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CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- Hours before his planned execution, convicted serial killer Anthony Allen Shore was granted a 90-day stay by a Harris County judge,
District attorneys in both Harris and Montgomery counties requested the stay amid Shore's claim that another death row inmate tried to persuade him to confess to a murder he did not commit.
Shore, also known as the Tourniquet Killer, said that fellow inmate Larry Ray Swearingen convinced him to take responsibility for the murder of Melissa Trotter after they became friends in prison.
Swearingen is set to be executed for Trotter's 1998 murder in four weeks. He has repeatedly asserted his innocence.
Prosecutors said Shore had planned to follow through with the plan -- which could have potentially set the stage for Swearingen to be exonerated -- until just before Shore's scheduled execution date, Oct. 18.
Over the summer, investigators conducted a search of Shore's cell as part of an inquiry into his mental health. In…

Texas: Montgomery County DA asks governor to stay Anthony Shore's execution

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The Montgomery County District Attorney has asked Gov. Greg Abbott to halt the execution this evening of a notorious Harris County serial killer who launched a last-minute scheme to confess to another death row inmate's crime, officials said Wednesday.
"Tourniquet Killer" Anthony Shore is set to die by lethal injection, but Brett Ligon, top prosecutor in Montgomery County wants a stay because Shore's death will cloud up the pending execution of another man on death row. 
Ligon wrote the governor this week explaining that Shore planned to confess to a slaying for which his fellow death row inmate Larry Swearingen was sentenced to death. 
Tom Berg, first assistant to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said he thought the Montgomery County DA's letter requesting a stay went out earlier this week.
"They've got their own death penalty case and supposedly there was some idea that Shore was going to claim he killed the person the other person killed and t…

Texas: Houston serial killer Anthony Shore faces execution this week

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Anthony Shore, a convicted serial killer, is set to be executed Wednesday evening. His murders in the 1980s and 1990s went unsolved until 2003.
Anthony Shore, the confessed serial rapist and strangler whose murders in the 1980s and 1990s went unsolved for more than a decade, is scheduled for execution Wednesday evening. The courts have shot down his latest appeals that argued a traumatic brain injury decreases his culpability, and a plea for relief to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was denied Monday afternoon.
Shore, 55, has been on death row since 2004, when he was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1992 rape and murder of 21-year-old Maria Del Carmen Estrada. The killing was 1 of 4 similar murders of young women and girls and one aggravated sexual assault where the girl was able to escape.
The murders took place between 1986 and 1995, according to court documents. All became cold cases in the years after the bodies of Estrada, 14-year-old Laurie Tremblay, 9-year-old Dia…

A Tragedy of Errors: The corkscrew case of Rogers Lacaze

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In "Case in Point," Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character that sheds light on the criminal justice system. An audio version of Case in Point is broadcast with The Takeaway, a public radio show from WNYC, Public Radio International, The New York Times, and WGBH-Boston Public Radio.
Pretend for a moment that you are an 18-year-old black man in Louisiana in 1995 and you've been charged with murdering a white police officer and 2 others, the children of the owner of the restaurant where the crime took place. It's sensational news in New Orleans in part because you have a co-defendant in the case, herself a police officer, Antoinette Frank, who immediately implicates you in the crime. Prosecutors seek the death penalty against you and your judge sets your capital case for trial just over 4 months after the crime.
You have a defense attorney who has never tried a death-penalty case before and who agrees to do so in exchange for your family's promise to give …