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Scheduled Executions / Re: Eric Branch - FL - 2/22/18
Last post by Amanda - February 16, 2018, 02:59:46 PM
Florida Supreme Court denies Eric Branch's appeal; execution set for next week

Fri. Feb. 16, 2018

A final state appeal by death row inmate Eric Branch to stay his execution was denied by the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday, paving the way for the execution to take place Feb. 22.

Branch, who is convicted of killing University of West Florida student Susan Morris in 1993, has been on death row since his conviction in 1994.

Circuit Judge Edward P. Nickinson, who also oversaw Branch's initial jury trial, denied his appeal earlier this month, and Branch then appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

The basis of the argument was the same in both courts: that Branch's nearly 25 years on death row constituted cruel and unusual punishment and that when he committed the crime at age 21, his cognitive development was still at the level of a juvenile offender and he should have been treated as such. The state Supreme Court denied both of those claims.

Branch kidnapped Morris as she was walking home from class one night in an otherwise empty parking lot. He then strangled and beat her, before burying her in a shallow grave near a nature trail where her body was found days later.

Branch was apprehended on his way back to Indiana.

Gov. Rick Scott signed Branch's death warrant in January, scheduling the execution for Feb. 22.

Since then, the state court and Branch's defense have been back and forth, filing motions and holding hearings as the defense attempts to raise arguments that might stay the execution and vacate the death sentence.

With Thursday's Florida Supreme Court opinion, Branch has exhausted all state-level appeals. A State Attorney's Office news release issued Wednesday states Branch will now most likely appeal to the federal courts. The execution still is scheduled to take place next week.
Scheduled Executions / Re: Juan Edward Castillo - TX ...
Last post by Grinning Grim Reaper - February 15, 2018, 02:43:53 PM
San Antonio lovers' lane killer gets fourth execution date in less than a year

A San Antonio killer this month was handed his fourth execution date in less than a year.

Juan Castillo, who was sent to death row for his role in a 2003 lovers' lane slaying, is now slated to die by lethal injection on May 16, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Last year, his string of death dates were called off for everything from Hurricane Harvey to a witness who recanted.

But before the setting of the most recent date, defense attorneys say they never got to weigh in.

Instead, when the appeals court bounced the case back to the trial court in November to examine false testimony claims, prosecutors filed a brief - and the judge decided against Castillo one day later, according to court filings.

"It's really unusual and strange," said Amanda Marzullo, executive director of Texas Defender Services, which is representing Castillo. "It's a clear due process violation."

The Bexar County District Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 36-year-old condemned man was originally convicted in 2005 of killing teenage rapper Tommy Garcia Jr. during a botched robbery.

Castillo's then-girlfriend lured the targeted man to a secluded spot with the promise of sex and drugs. But while the two were making out in his Camaro, Castillo and another man attacked.

Wearing ski masks and carrying weapons, they dragged Garcia from the car - and Castillo shot him seven times in the process.

Castillo was one of four people convicted in the crime, but the only one hit with a capital sentence. During the punishment phase, he represented himself.

He was found guilty on what would have been his victim's 21st birthday.

Last May, he was scheduled for execution, but saw the date cancelled after prosecutors failed to give 90 days notice to the defense. In September, he was scheduled to die, but the date was pushed back again, this time in light of the impacts of Hurricane Harvey.

Then in November, his December execution date was canceled and his case remanded to the trial court in light of claims of false testimony from a jailhouse snitch.

"I described what Juan Castillo supposedly told me about the capital murder," former Bexar County inmate Gerardo Gutierrez wrote in 2013, according to court records. "Juan Castillo never told me this information about this capital murder case. This testimony was untrue about Juan Castillo. I made up this testimony to try to help myself."

Although prosecutors argued that appeals based on the 2013 revelation were procedurally barred and not credible, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals looked to a 2009 decision mandating that - whether or not it's intentional - the use of false testimony violates due process. Accordingly, on Nov. 28, the appeals court sent the case back to Bexar County.

There, the trial court on Dec. 1 decided that Gutierrez's testimony wasn't what made the difference in Castillo's conviction, as everything he testified to matched statements from other witnesses. The decision came one day after the judge voluntarily recused himself and was replaced.

Although the prosecution was able to file its recommended findings before the court ruled, the defense was not able to do the same.

Now, Castillo's defense has plans to file a motion for reconsideration, Marzullo said.

The next scheduled execution in Texas is Thomas "Bart" Whitaker, a Sugar Land man convicted in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his own family. If his appeals fail, the 38-year-old will be the fourth Texas man executed this year.

Hopefully the 4th time is the charm for this thug.
Alabama Death Penalty News / Re: Alabama Death Penalty News
Last post by Amanda - February 15, 2018, 07:51:18 AM
Alabama committee votes to allow nitrogen executions

Wed. Feb. 14, 2018

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama moved closer to allowing death row inmates to be executed with nitrogen gas, a method that has so far never been used. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill Wednesday on an 11-1 vote. It now moves to the full Senate.
Sen. Trip Pittman, the bill sponsor, says nitrogen hypoxia could be a painless way to put a person to death that is more humane than lethal injection or electric chair. The Montrose Republican said Alabama needs another execution method as lethal injection methods face legal challenges. However, no state has used nitrogen gas in an execution. Only two states -- Oklahoma and Mississippi -- conditionally authorize the use of nitrogen gas as a back-up method of execution.
Scheduled Executions / Re: Doyle Lee Hamm - AL - 2/22...
Last post by Amanda - February 15, 2018, 07:45:54 AM
Court rules Alabama can execute man in Cullman murder case

Wed. Feb. 14, 2018

MONTGOMERY (AP) -- A federal appeals court says Alabama, at least for now, can proceed toward the execution of an inmate who argues that a lethal injection would be cruel because lymphoma and hepatitis C have damaged his veins.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a federal judge's stay of execution for Doyle Lee Hamm, who is scheduled to be put to death on Feb. 22 for the 1987 murder of motel clerk Patrick Cunningham, 41, in Cullman.

The appellate court ruled that a judge prematurely stayed the execution, but agreed there are unsettled questions about Hamm's health.

The three-judge panel said an independent medical expert should review Hamm's condition immediately.


"Unsettled questions", huh? Well, here's one solution: allow Alabama to execute Hamm on Feb. 22 and then do an autopsy. Maybe that'll give some answers. He's been on death row long enough, since Sept. 1993. Enough dilly-dallying.
It looks like the triple execution day of Feb. 22 is back on!! Go, Texas, Alabama, and Florida!  :D
Scheduled Executions / Re: Raymond Tibbets - OH - 10/...
Last post by Grinning Grim Reaper - February 12, 2018, 04:29:57 PM
Kasich is a big pussy.  Can you imagine the pardons granted if he had become president?

Scheduled Executions / Re: Raymond Tibbets - OH - 02/...
Last post by deeg - February 09, 2018, 11:42:26 PM
I call BS on this.  Prior to trial and opening/closing arguments, both sides provide the judge a synopsis of evidence.  The judge decides what is germane and probative.  Not everything that the prosecutor or defense wants gets into the trial.  Jurors should not be able to second guess what was left out - only can base their decision on what is presented. 
Scheduled Executions / Re: Raymond Tibbets - OH - 02/...
Last post by Amanda - February 09, 2018, 12:21:42 AM
Raymond Tibbetts - execution scheduled for Feb. 13 pushed back to Oct. 17, 2018.

Ohio governor delays killer's execution over juror concerns

Thurs. Feb. 8, 2018

Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Thursday delayed the execution of a killer set to die next week, citing a letter he received from a juror who asked that the inmate be spared. The Republican Kasich issued a reprieve for Raymond Tibbetts that pushed his Feb. 13 execution forward to mid-October. [Oct. 17, actually]

Kasich wants the Ohio Parole Board to consider a letter written by ex-juror Ross Geiger, who has said jurors weren't given enough information about Tibbetts' tough childhood. The parole board voted 11-1 last year against mercy for Tibbetts.

In the Jan. 30 letter, Geiger said he believes he and other jurors were misled about the "truly terrible conditions" of Tibbetts' upbringing.

"After reviewing the material, from the perspective of an original juror, I have deep concerns about the trial and the way it transpired," Geiger wrote in a letter to the governor. "This is why I am asking you to be merciful."

Geiger, of suburban Cincinnati, said he was relieved the governor paid attention to such an important issue.

Since "the issue was important enough for me to send a letter, then it has to be important enough for me to follow through with the parole board if they ask," Geiger told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Tibbetts, 60, was sentenced to die for stabbing Fred Hicks to death at Hicks' home in 1997. Tibbetts also received life imprisonment for fatally beating and stabbing his wife, 42-year-old Judith Crawford, during an argument that same day over Tibbetts' crack cocaine habit. The 67-year-old Hicks had hired Crawford as a caretaker and allowed the couple to stay with him.

Hamilton County prosecutors have argued that Tibbetts' background doesn't outweigh his crimes. That includes stabbing Crawford after he'd already beaten her to death, then repeatedly stabbing Hicks, a "sick, defenseless, hearing-impaired man in whose home Tibbetts lived," they told the parole board.

"In nearly every case this board reviews, inmates assert that their poor childhoods, drugs, or some other reason mitigate their actions," Ron Springman, an assistant Hamilton County prosecutor, told the board in a 2017 filing. "The mitigation in this case does not overcome the brutality of these murders."

Jurors heard "mostly anecdotal stories" from a psychiatrist called on Tibbetts' behalf about his troubled childhood and poor foster care, Geiger told Kasich. Geiger said he was shocked last month reading testimony presented at Tibbetts' clemency hearing about the conditions Tibbetts and his siblings lived through in foster care.

At night, Tibbetts and his brothers were tied to a single bed at the foster home, weren't fed properly, were thrown down stairs, had their fingers beaten with spatulas and were burned on heating registers, according to Tibbetts' application for mercy last year.


Sigh. Another day, another delay granted to an inmate with a scheduled execution. Guess it's time to edit the title of this topic - again. :-\
Inmates Removed From Death Row / Re: Joe Abbot - CA - Off of DR
Last post by Amanda - February 08, 2018, 07:40:24 AM
Ooooh, good news! One less waste of space on our already-overcrowded death colony. It hasn't been a "death row" for decades. 1 down, 745 to go. Line them up. Free extra bedsheets for all. :P
Louisiana Death Penalty News / Re: Louisiana Death Penalty Ne...
Last post by Amanda - February 08, 2018, 07:30:45 AM
Court overturns heat-index limit on Louisiana's death row

Originally published Feb. 1, 2018

A federal appeals court has overturned an order requiring Louisiana prison officials to keep the heat index on death row below 88 degrees for three ailing condemned killers.

Wednesday's ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest twist in a 2013 civil rights lawsuit that has cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson ruled Louisiana imposes unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment on the three death-row inmates once the heat index in their cells exceeds 88 degrees. His December 2016 order required officials at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola to continue using new measures, including modified ice chests, to protect the inmates from extreme heat.

But the 5th Circuit panel concluded Jackson's ruling violated a previous order by the appeals court by incorporating a maximum heat index in his ruling. Heat index is a measure of temperature and humidity, and the indices on death row have routinely soared above 100 as temperatures and humidity levels rise during the summer.

In the panel's majority opinion, Judge Jerry Smith said a "temperature trigger" can be used for deciding when to implement heat-control measures. But the courts can't require the prison to maintain a "temperature ceiling" on death row, Smith wrote.

To read more, go to the above link.
California Death Penalty News / Re: California Death Penalty N...
Last post by Amanda - February 08, 2018, 07:26:27 AM
California's new lethal injection plan already faces hurdles

Originally published Jan. 31, 2018

California moved a step closer to resuming lethal injections this week but still faces significant hurdles before inmates can be executed.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has unveiled a revised single-drug method of execution, allowing the state to use either pentobarbital or thiopental in a single infusion to put condemned inmates to death.

But the barbiturates are extremely difficult to obtain, lawyers on both sides of the death penalty debate said Tuesday, and their lack of availability could eventually doom plans to restart the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has barred the import of thiopental, and the manufacturer of pentobarbital has prohibited the drug from being used in executions.

"The state cannot lawfully procure either of those drugs through a reputable channel," said Ana Zamora, criminal justice director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

The protocol allows for compounding pharmacies to make the drugs, but the state would need to import the necessary ingredients, said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. "That is a problem."

Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the corrections department, said she couldn't comment on whether the drugs might be impossible to obtain.

"I can tell you that CDCR will comply with all applicable laws in the procurement of the lethal injection chemicals," she said.

Several states have had to place holds on executions because of the difficulty of obtaining the needed drugs.

The shortage stems in part from pressure placed by death penalty opponents on manufacturers to prevent their products from being used in executions.

A previous lethal injection protocol proposed by California would have allowed officials to choose one of four different drugs for executions. But the ACLU strongly opposed the use of two of them, arguing they had never been used in an execution.

The state later withdrew those two drugs from its proposed protocol, saying it was questionable whether the chemicals could be obtained in a form needed for lethal injection.

Scheidegger said that was a mistake. "Every drug has to have a first use," he said.

Even if compounding pharmacies could obtain the ingredients needed for the two drugs now permitted, there is no guarantee that the chemicals would be processed correctly, Zamora said.

She said drugs made by compounding pharmacies have led to botched executions in other states.

"Will they engage in a covert mission to swap drugs with other states?" she asked. "We have a lot of concerns about how they are going to legally procure these two drugs."

She said the new protocol was essentially the same one rejected last year by a state law office before Proposition 66 became final.

It "contains a lot of the same problems -- legal and practical problems -- that the courts have been pointing to for years and years," she said.

California has the largest death row in the nation, with nearly 750 condemned inmates.

Scheidegger and his group joined prosecutors in winning passage of Proposition 66 in 2016, which was intended to speed up executions. The measure was immediately challenged.

The California Supreme Court eventually upheld most of it, including a provision that exempted lethal injection protocols from a state administrative procedures law.

As a result, the new protocol should become final in a month or two, Scheidegger said.

The next step for death penalty supporters will be to try to remove court injunctions blocking executions.

Scheidegger's group has moved to end an injunction issued by a state court, arguing it was based on the law prior to Proposition 66. The measure, in fact, was written in part to get around that injunction.

He said efforts also are being made to end the federal injunction, issued in 2006 after a judge found the state's former three-drug method of execution unconstitutional.

"None of (the injunctions) have any legal basis, but it does take time to get these hurdles removed by the courts," Scheidegger said.

He said he was hopeful the injunctions could be removed by the end of the year.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, an Obama appointee presiding over the Northern California lethal injection case, will eventually have to determine whether the new protocol violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

About 18 inmates have exhausted their appeals and could be executed relatively swiftly if the court battles were resolved and the state obtained the needed drugs.

Because of all the hurdles, though, Gov. Jerry Brown could leave office next year without having to preside over a single execution.

Brown is known to personally oppose capital punishment, but he took no position on ballot measures in recent years that would have ended the death penalty in California.

California's Constitution also limits his power to commute death sentences to life without parole.

He would need the support of four of seven justices on the California Supreme Court to commute death sentences of inmates who committed multiple felonies.

At least half of the state's death row inmates have multiple felonies on their records, lawyers said.

Ronald Reagan was the last California governor to commute a death sentence, deciding in 1967 to move Calvin Thomas off death row because Thomas had serious brain damage.

Former Gov. Pat Brown, Jerry Brown's father, commuted capital sentences of 20 inmates and oversaw the executions of 35 others.

The elder Brown tried to commute the death sentence of Caryl Chessman, whose case attracted sympathy worldwide. But the California Supreme Court refused to approve the commutation.


-Sigh-  Oh, California... My state gets points for trying, but it's not enough.  :-\
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