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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

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

Larry Ray Swearingen
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 his cell, they found copies of court exhibits, scene photographs and handwritten documents pertaining to Trotter's murder.

Anthony Shore
Shore claimed that Swearingen provided him with the documents in order to make the confession more convincing, prosecutors said. 

The handwriting on the documents was "dissimilar to Shore's distinctive handwriting," according to prosecutors, but similar to Swearingen's handwriting.

Claims made by Shore were corroborated during an interview with a woman who visited him in prison. Investigators said she knew he planned to confess and that he was aware of the location of evidence pertaining to Trotter's murder.

"Due to the untimely nature of the information, the veracity of any of those statements cannot be determined without this temporary reprieve," added Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.

"Given Shore's status as a serial killer, Shore's possession of these documents generated the remote possibility that Shore had some kind of involvement in Trotter's death," added Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. "It is always the first responsibility of prosecutors to see that justice is done."

Ogg said Shore's execution has been rescheduled for Jan. 18, 2018, the earliest legally available date.

Shore was dubbed the Tourniquet Killer after the way he strangled his victims with handmade tourniquets. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2004 after prosecutors said he confessed to the murders of four females ranging in age from 9 to 21 between 1986 and 1995.

Source: ABC13, October 18, 2017


Drama as court delays Texas execution


The Walls Unit, Huntsville, Texas
Last-minute revelations potentially connect Anthony Shore to murder for which someone else awaits execution

Chicago: Texas delayed a confessed serial killer’s execution Wednesday to investigate last-minute revelations that potentially connect him to another murder for which someone else is awaiting execution.

Anthony Shore was to be put to death for raping, torturing and murdering three girls and a young woman in Houston between 1986 and 1995.

But prosecutors feared he was going to posthumously via a note — and falsely — confess to another murder, for which a fellow Texas death row inmate is to be executed next month.

In a July search of Shore’s prison cell, authorities discovered materials relating to the 1998 murder of 19-year-old college student Melissa Trotter, including copies of court exhibits and crime scene photographs.

Larry Swearingen was convicted of Trotter’s murder and is to be executed on November 18.

“Shore’s possession of these documents generated the remote possibility that Shore had some kind of involvement in Trotter’s death,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement.

Prosecutors believe Shore planned to confess to the murder, in a written note to be revealed after his death, thus casting doubt on Swearingen’s guilt and potentially stopping his execution.

“We remain absolutely certain of Swearingen’s guilt,” prosecutor Brett Ligon wrote in a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

“But permitting Shore to claim responsibility for that crime after his execution would leave a cloud over the judicial proceedings in Swearingen’s case.”

Hours before he was to die by lethal injection, a judge halted Shore’s execution.

Now 55 years old, Shore was known as the “Tourniquet Killer” for strangling to death his four victims — the oldest was 20 and the youngest was nine — with an improvised compression device consisting of rope and a tightening tool.

Shore also admitted to a fifth victim, a 14-year-old who escaped after a disguised Shore raped her in her own home and then began choking her.

The killer’s family told the Houston Chronicle newspaper that they expected last-minute revelations of other victims in order to win an execution delay.

“I know in my heart without a doubt that there are more,” Shore’s sister Gina told the Chronicle. “There had to have been other girls.”

Shore was caught in 2003 after police matched DNA found on the body of one of his victims, 20-year-old Maria Del Carmen Estrada, to a sample he had submitted after being convicted of molesting his own two daughters.

He confessed to all four murders and the rape, and during his trial asked for the death penalty.

In appeals, Shore’s lawyers argued he should be spared execution, because he was brain damaged by a car accident in the early 1980s. Judges have rejected that argument.

Swearingen was convicted in 2000 of raping and strangling Trotter, and dumping her body in a forest.
His attorneys have repeatedly attempted to get DNA tests of crime scene evidence. But prosecutors have refused, saying there is too much circumstantial evidence supporting Swearingen’s guilt.

Source: Agence France-Presse, October 18, 2017


'Tourniquet Killer' execution date reset to January 2018


Death row cell, Texas
'Tourniquet Killer' claims death row inmate convinced him to confess to murder

The execution date for Anthony Allen Shore, also known as the "Tourniquet Killer," has been reset for Jan. 18, 2018. He was scheduled to be put to death Wednesday.

On the eve of his scheduled execution, Shore told investigators that a fellow inmate attempted to persuade Shore to take responsibility for the December 1998 abduction and killing of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter.

Larry Ray Swearingen was convicted of Trotter's murder and is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 16.

Shore, who confessed to four slayings, was scheduled to be executed Wednesday evening, but the date has been reset while an investigation can be conducted.

Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said investigators from his office spoke with Shore on Tuesday and he told them he decided to expose the scheme and not cooperate with Swearingen.

The prosecutor said Swearingen tried a similar scheme before his trial for Trotter's killing.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused an appeal from Swearingen last October. His attorneys have long wanted additional DNA testing of evidence they say could show he didn't kill Trotter.

During Tuesday's interview, Shore told investigators he initially refused Swearingen's request, but the 2 eventually became friends and he decided to try to exonerate Swearingen as a favor.

Shore told investigators that Swearingen gave him a hand-drawn map of the location where Swearingen left physical evidence of Trotter's murder.

Ligon asked Gov. Greg Abbott to grant Shore a single 30-day reprieve in order to process the contents of Shore's cell.

On July 21, authorities discovered a folder in Shore's cell containing approximately 10 items pertaining to Trotter's murder, including copies of court exhibits and scene photos, a hand-drawn page of a calendar for the month of December 1998 with handwritten notations regarding weather conditions, and a hand-drawn map which appears to depict the location where Trotter's body was found. The handwriting on the map appears to be Swearingen's, authorities said.

Source: click2houston.com, October 18, 2017


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

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