Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret

Scott Dozier faces loss of prison privileges in last months of life if he discloses death manual details.
While Scott Raymond Dozier, 45, waits for his date with death in November at Ely State Prison, NV, the condemned inmate and his attorneys were granted approval in court on Thursday to review Nevada's execution manual, according to KNPR and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. 
Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti cautioned his lawyers, however, that she can sever Dozier's communication with people, outside of prison, if their client discloses prison information that is confidential and contained within the manual.
An agreement was worked out in court that permits Dozier and his lawyers to see portions of the execution manual that were previously redacted, the Review-Journal reported.
The manual's details are not available to the public. Judge Togliatti seeks to ensure that the inmate does not leak parts of the document to anyone - his fellow inmates, family…

UK promises new support to Saudi security bodies, despite imminent juvenile executions

The Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has signed a security agreement with Saudi Arabia that appears to promise further training for Saudi police – despite their use of torture and the death penalty.
The move comes despite Saudi Arabia’s recent resumption of executions for protest-related offences, following unfair trials in the Kingdom’s special anti-terrorism court (the Specialised Criminal Court, or SCC). 
Several juveniles face imminent execution for attending protests, including Abdulkarim al-Hawaj, Mujtaba al-Sweikat, Salman al-Quraish, Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher. A disabled young man, Munir al-Adam, also faces execution.
All seven were convicted in the Specialised Criminal Court on the basis of forced, false confessions extracted through torture by Saudi security forces. The charges against the seven include the chanting of slogans, and the use of social media and messaging services like Whatsapp.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon signed the agreeme…

UK: Tory MP and Daily Mail launch sickening attack on memorial for executed gay men

Anti-gay Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has sickeningly lashed out at a memorial for men executed for being gay.
The powerful exhibit was unveiled by the National Trust this week at Kingston Lacy, a property in Dorset.
The house’s former owner William John Bankes dedicated much of his life to restoring the property, but was forced to flee the country when authorities discovered he was gay, which at the time could lead to the death penalty.
As part of a range of new exhibits at the property based on Bankes’ tragic life story, the Trust commissioned art piece ‘In Memoriam’, a powerful tribute to the 51 men who were hanged under laws that criminalised same-sex acts during Bankes’ lifetime (1786-1855).
The piece includes 51 ropes, and stands as a reminder of the brutality of the times.
But shockingly one Conservative MP has lashed out at the exhibition, continuing a media campaign waged against the Trust by anti-LGBT Tories.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen insisted it was “tota…

Georgia to seek death penalty against escaped inmates accused of killing correctional officers

ATLANTA (AP) — Two inmates accused of killing their guards on a Georgia prison bus three months ago were indicted Tuesday on multiple charges, including murder, and the state plans to seek the death penalty.
A grand jury indicted Donnie Russell Rowe, 44, and Ricky Dubose, 24. 
Each man faces two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of escape and one count of hijacking a motor vehicle.
Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stephen Bradley filed notice with the court Tuesday that he plans to seek the death penalty against both men.
Rowe and Dubose are accused of disarming and killing Sgts. Christopher Monica 42, and Curtis Billue, 58, while escaping from the prison transfer bus on June 13 in Putnam County, southeast of Atlanta. Authorities say the pair then carjacked a motorist to get away.
They were arrested two days later in Tennessee following an intense manhunt.
A review of the escape determined the two inmates were able to easily free themselves from their…

Driver won't get death penalty in Texas smuggling case

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KTRK) -- The federal government will not seek the death penalty against a 60-year-old driver at the center of a human smuggling case that killed 10 people in San Antonio, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.
James Bradley Jr. will not be sentenced to death, according to U.S. Attorney General Richard Durban, Jr., but will face additional charges in the case after a grand jury returned a superseding indictment Wednesday.
The indictment also charged 47-year-old Pedro Silva Seguara, an undocumented alien, in connection to transporting and harboring undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in serious bodily injury. Segura faces life imprisonment or the death penalty.
In July, authorities were called to the Walmart store near Interstate 35 in San Antonio. According to the criminal complaint, Bradley told police the trailer he was hauling had been sold and he was "unaware" of its contents. He said he stopped at the Walmart and exited the vehicle to…

Keith Tharpe’s Scheduled Execution Tests Our Nation's Tolerance for the Death Penalty's Racial Bias

Only a unanimous jury can convict and impose a death sentence in Georgia, and the law has long recognized that misconduct by a single juror requires reversal.

In 1991, a jury in Jones County, Georgia, sentenced Keith Tharpe, a Black man, to death for the murder of his sister-in-law.

Seven years later, Tharpe’s defense counsel met with a white juror on Tharpe’s trial as part of their routine investigation of the case.

The juror explained to the lawyers why he voted for his client’s death, and then reviewed, edited, and signed a sworn statement, which set out his views of race and Tharpe:
I have observed there are two types of Black people: 1. Black folks and 2. Niggers. For example, some of them who hang around our little store act up and carry on. I tell them, “nigger, you better straighten up or get out of here fast.”I felt Tharpe who wasn’t in the “good” black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did. . . .After studying the Bible, I have wondered if …

"The regime that hangs gays in Iran will one day fall" - Israeli Prime Minister from the UN rostrum

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly expressed confidence that the regime that seized power in Iran as a result of the Islamic revolution and hangs gays will one day fall.
"I also have a message to the Iranian people: you are not our enemies, you are our friends," said Binyamin Netanyahu, 67, quoted by the media.
"One day, my Iranian friends, you will be freed from the regime of evil that terrorizes you, that hangs gays, throws journalists behind bars, tortures political prisoners and shoots innocent women."
Netanyahu expressed confidence that "the friendship between the two ancient peoples will surely blossom again."
At the same time, he promised that his country would "protect itself with the full force of its weapons," and called on the international community to "fix or destroy" the Iranian nuclear deal.
Binyamin Netanyahu is known for supporting the rights of the LGBT community of Israel.
In Ir…

Florida: Jury decides against death penalty for man who raped, killed woman in 1987

A Palm Beach County jury on Tuesday recommended a life sentence for a man convicted last month of a strangulation murder near Lake Worth 30 years ago.
Under a Florida law revised this year, the death penalty cannot be imposed without a unanimous jury vote. The jurors voted 9-3 in favor of a life in prison term for Rodney Clark, and Circuit Judge Charles Burton immediately imposed that punishment.
While Clark smiled at his lawyers after the verdict, two of murder victim Dana Fader’s three children left the courtroom satisfied their long wait for justice was over.
“It’s done, behind us now,” said Kolby Manis, standing next to his older sister, Angela Fader Sampler. “We just wanted him off the streets. He’s not going to hurt anybody else for a while, at least.”
They were just 5 and 10 years old when their mom was raped and killed in the back seat of her car. A younger brother, named J.P., was three years old. After the slaying, the siblings were raised by different relatives, but they ev…

Patrick Henry, French child murderer in famous case, to be released

PARIS (AP) - French criminal justice authorities say a child murderer whose case has become a symbol of the fight against the death penalty will be released from prison.
The prosecutor's office in Melun, south of Paris, said Friday that 64-year-old Patrick Henry has had his sentence suspended for medical reasons.
Henry was serving a life sentence for the murder of a 7-year-old boy in 1976.
At the time, his lawyer Robert Badinter used his case to advocate against the death penalty. 
The argument remains one of the most famous of France's judicial history.
The death penalty was abolished in France in 1981 when Badinter was justice minister.
Henry's lawyer Hugo Levy told France Info radio his client has lung cancer.
Source: The Associated Press, September 15, 2017

➤ Related content:France: Convicted child killer Patrick Henry to be released on parole after 38 years behind bars, January 7, 2016

Patrick Henry libéré après 40 années passées en prison
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Does the State of Oklahoma have jurisdiction in Indian Country?

OKLAHOMA CITY -- On August 8, The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a death penalty conviction of a Muscogee (Creek) citizen, based on a decision that Patrick Dwayne Murphy should have been tried in federal court not state court since his offense occurred in Indian Country.
The landmark decision also brought into question the legal definition of Indian Country when the panel unanimously decided that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation had not been disestablished and that the Nation’s 1866 Treaty boundaries define the tribe’s Indian Country.
At least half of Oklahoma will be held to be Indian Country, fundamentally altering both civil and criminal jurisdiction.
Patrick Dwayne Murphy was tried and convicted in Oklahoma state court for the August 1999 death of George Jacobs, Sr., and was sentenced to death. In his appeal, Murphy claimed he was tried in the wrong court, challenging the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma state court in which he was convicted of murder an…