Despite claims of insanity, a Phoenix man was given the death penalty for stabbing and slashing his elderly mother with a samurai sword before shooting her in 2005.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Ach, missed this from the other day: The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to Missouri's death-penalty policies. The attorney general, Chris Koster, is viewing this as a green light to resume executions, though a defense attorney says they've got another case in the hopper and, thus, nobody should be killed just yet. The AG already says he's going to request an execution date for Joseph Paul Franklin.
You might remember Franklin; he's kind of a piece of work. From an old CSKC post ...
This isn't his birth name, by the way. James Clayton Vaughn renamed himself after Joseph Paul Goebbels and Benjamin Franklin. (Two figures who naturally go together, right?) He is, as you might have guessed, a white supremacist known for targeting blacks, Jews and mixed-race couples.
He's confessed to trying (unsuccessfully) murder Larry Flynt and Vernon Jordan, though was never convicted. He's on Missouri's Death Row for killing a man outside a bar mitzvah in St. Louis.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
In Utah, a parole board has decided against commuting the death sentence of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who asked that -- if he must be executed -- a firing squad kill him.
The state Supreme Court also turned down an appeal. His attorneys argued he deserved a new sentencing hearing because his previous lawyers didn't present adequate evidence that he'd been abused as a child, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. They also say that it's cruel and unusual to execute someone after spending so much time on Death Row. Gardner is scheduled to die on Friday.
Family members of George
"Nick" Kirk, front row from left: Jamie Stewart, Mandi Hull, and Barb
Webb, react as the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announces their
unanimous decision to deny Ronnie Lee Gardner's request for commutation.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
CNN interviews a man who was part of a Utah firing squad back in 1996. It's sort of interesting to hear his perspective. And no, it doesn't sound like he's wracked with doubts:
"There's just some people," he says, "we need to kick off the planet."
In his case, he helped "evict" John Albert Taylor, who raped and murdered an 11-year-old girl.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
The U.S. Sentencing Commission has issued new guidelines for federal judges, saying it's OK for judges to give lighter sentences based on a defendant's military service, age, and mental and emotional state, the Wall Street Journal reports. The new guidelines will take effect in November.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
That's according to the attorney for Maj. Nadal Hasan, who's accused of killing 13 people during a shooting spree at the base. The military requires there be an aggravating factor to qualify a murderer for the death penalty. In this case, it's the fact that so many people were killed in one incident.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Nigeria wants to execute the 330 prisoners on its Death Row, as a way to deal with its crowded prisons. Several groups, including Amnesty International and the United Nations, are protesting loudly against the idea. They blame Nigeria's rickety justice system, which has long delays in prosecution. Police have been accused of torturing suspects into confessing, too. Nigeria hasn't really used capital punishment that much, at least officially. They executed someone in 2002, but Amnesty alleges there have been secret executions in some prisons.
Friday, April 23, 2010
In Utah, a convicted killer named Ronnie Lee Gardner has requested that a firing squad execute him. Firing squads are only allowed -- theoretically -- in Utah and Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, lethal injection is the default, and a firing squad would only be used if the needle were made unconstitutional.
Utah has executed two inmates by firing squad since the 1970s. For more inmates, it's not an option -- only those sentenced to death before 2004, when the legislature made lethal injection their go-to method. It's mostly a PR move, the AP says -- a lot of people argued the method was brutal. That, legislators were worried that fretting about the means of execution stole focus from the victims. About four guys on Utah's Death Row would like to be shot to death, please.
Gardner is one of the "lucky" ones. He killed an attorney, Michael J. Burdell, during a shootout and botched escape attempt back in the 1980s.
More than a few commenters have suggested "bringing back the firing squad," but as execution methods go, it's fairly rare -- or has been since the Civil War, anyway. It's sort of iffy; some executees survive the initial shot, which some people have argued is unnecessarily cruel. Supporters note that firing squads are the only method of execution that allows for organ donation of the deceased.
Photos via AP. The bottom image is a file image from the last Utah firing-squad execution -- that's what the condemned man was strapped into.
Monday, April 19, 2010
In California, John Gardner III has pleaded guilty to killing two teenage girls, Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, and trying to sexually assault a third person. Under the terms of his deal, Gardner won't receive the death penalty. Surprisingly, King's family is OK with this -- largely because the death penalty in California almost never results in death. (There have only been 13 executions in Cali since 1976.)
Without the plea, prosecutors didn't have enough to tie Gardner's murder, which happened about a year ago. He also led police to the girl's remains.
The King case -- and Gardner's subsequent arrest -- led to new criticism of how California monitors its registered sex offenders. (Gardner was one because of an earlier crime.) Her parents are now pushing for a new law in her name.
(AP Photo/Earnie Grafton, Pool)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
In Ohio, a Death Row inmate named Darryl Durr, who allegedly raped and strangled a teenage girl, is fighting his execution, saying that he might have an allergic reaction to one of the chemicals used.
Friday, April 02, 2010
A Lebanese TV host who predicts the future on his show had been facing execution in Saudi Arabia, where he'd traveled for a religious pilgrimage. His career is enough to qualify for the crime of "sorcery," according to the Saudi religious police. (Call Dick Wolf, I just had an idea for another "Law & Order" show.) The Lebanese government is working to save the guy's life. It's not clear how long the reprieve will last.
Hat Tip: Many thanks, Goshel!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Israel Mireles -- the man convicted of murdering college student Emily Sander -- has been sentenced to life without parole, the Eagle reports. Mireles was captured in Mexico, but their government wouldn't send him back to the U.S. unless authorities promised not to execute him, a standard demand.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
In Virginia, a man named Paul Warner Powell is scheduled to be executed tonight for killing a teenage girl, then raping the girl's younger sister. He was sentenced to death earlier, but a higher court overturned it. Powell mistakenly believed that he could not be sentenced to death again, so he wrote a taunting letter to the prosecutor in which he confessed, in gruesome detail.
Actually, he could be sentenced to death again. And he was.
A blog called "I'm Surrounded by Idiots" has the text of the letter. Fair warning: It's got a lot of a foul language and is very graphic.
File photo via AP
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Supporters of Reginald Clemons, who is on Missouri's Death Row for a 1991 rape and murder, hope that evidence from a rape kit will help prove Clemons is innocent. According to St. Louis police, that evidence has always been available, but neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys had apparently reviewed it, the Post-Dispatch reports. It's not clear if the evidence has been DNA tested.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Ohio has postponed the execution of an inmate who was supposed to be put to death this week. He was found unconscious Sunday night, apparently from an overdose. He's recovering in the hospital ... so he can be executed at some point.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
In Ohio, a Death Row convict who strangled an old woman for beer money has asked an appeals court to delay his execution next week. He says the execution method is untested and could cause pain.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
In Topeka, legislators had been mulling over a bill that would have discontinued Kansas' death penalty. Advocates argued that it would save money and noted that nobody's been executed in Kansas for decades anyway. They were opposed by victims' families who argued that some crimes -- like the Carr brothers' slayings in Wichita -- absolutely warranted death.
But it's beside the point now. The bill failed on a 20-20 vote Friday in the state Senate, so it's effectively dead for another year.
Monday, February 01, 2010
As you might remember, the Kansas Senate's Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings on the death penalty. Some experts argued that it cost too much, especially since nobody's been executed since Kansas reinstated capital punishment back in the early 1990s. They were met by families of murder victims, who said the fear of execution had helped extract confessions from killers.
Now? The committee has voted, 7-4, to repeal the death penalty. (It's not clear if all of the yeas want to do away with capital punishment, or if they just want to have the debate.) The measure goes to the full Senate for consideration, though there's no guarantee the larger body has to take up the issue.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Missouri's attorney general is seeking execution dates for two men on Death Row, Joseph Franklin and Allen Nicklasson.
Nicklasson was one of the men convicted of killing Richard Drummond, an Excelsior Springs resident, on Interstate 70 when he stoppped to offer help. (Another person convicted in that case, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed last year.) The AP says that Nicklasson is the one who actually pulled the trigger.
Franklin, a white supremacist, is on Missouri's Death Row for murdering Gerald Gordon in 1977 in St. Louis after a bar mitzvah, though Franklin is better known as the guy who shot Larry Flynt, the publisher of "Hustler" magazine. He also says he shot superlawyer / Bill Clinton associate Vernon Jordan when Jordan headed up the National Urban League. We've written about him before here. And here's his Wikipedia entry.
(Franklin confessed to the Flynt and Vernon shootings, but he's never stood trial for either. He was reportedly upset about an interracial photo spread in "Hustler," Wikipedia says.)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
On the grounds that Andrew Lyons, who was convicted of killing his girlfriend and her mother in Cape, is mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it's forbidden to execute people with that condition.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Richard Davis, who was convicted of killing Marsha Spicer in 2006, is arguing that his trial wasn't fair because prosecutors showed duplicate images -- both video and stills -- from a video that Davis and his girlfriend made of the assault on Spicer. The images were so violent that showing duplicates was prejudicial, his lawyers argue.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
As you might remember, the Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on the state's death penalty and whether it should be saved or scrapped. (Kansas hasn't executed anyone since capital punishment was reinstated back in 1994, and some studies argue that it costs too much money.)
Relatives of Jodi Sanderholm, a college student kidnapped and killed near Ark City, made an interesting argument for keeping it, though:
Justin Thurber raped, sodomized and murdered 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm of Arkansas City in January 2007. In March 2009, he was sentenced to die by lethal injection by a Cowley County judge.
Thurber feared the death penalty and, the night before his trial, tried to plea bargain to take capital punishment off the table, Jennifer Sanderholm told lawmakers, her voice wracked with emotion.
“He was scared and he didn’t want to die,” she said, surrounded by her mother Cindy and father Brian who also testified.
Relatives of the Carr brothers' victims also spoke. If there were ever a couple of poster children for keeping the death penalty, it's the Carr brothers.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Sharon Keller -- a Texas judge who closed her office at 5 p.m. the night of an execution, preventing a last-minute appeal from the defense -- should not lose her job, the presiding judge at her ethics trial wrote. Keller's action were not "exemplary," but no punishment -- "beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered" -- should be levied, the report said.
Correction: I'm sorry, but I got this wrong in the original version. Thank you for catching this.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Kansas hasn't executed anybody since capital punishment was reinstated in 1994, and there's no chance that legislators are going to do away with it. But the state's Senate Judiciary Committee is still planing to hold hearings on whether the death penalty is cost-effective.