Inmates on the death row

Susan Sarandon Fights To Save Death Row Inmate’s Life Days Before Execution


Just days before a death row inmate’s scheduled execution, Susan Sarandon makes an impassioned plea on Monday’s episode of Dr. Phil to save the life of Richard Glossip, who has been on Oklahoma’s death row for 17 years.

“I’m heartbroken for the state of our judicial system as much as I’m heartbroken for this man,” says the Academy Award®-winning actress. “Because of the color of your skin or how much money you have, you can’t get a decent shake. It shouldn’t be that way. This is America — we’re better than that.”

Glossip, 51, who is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, September 16, was convicted in 1998 of first-degree murder of his boss, Barry Van Treese. Glossip maintains his innocence despite being convicted and sentenced to death by two juries.

Glossip’s Life Has Been Spared Before

When Dr. Phil asks Sarandon how she will feel if Glossip is not granted a stay of execution, Sarandon responds: “I’ll feel ashamed and sad for us all. Not just for him. I mean, it’s hard to even put an animal down, but to put a man down? It’s just not the way we should be living our lives. It’s just wrong.”

If Glossip is executed as planned, he’ll leave behind four children and two grandchildren.

Sarandon is joined on the show by Sister Helen Prejean, Glossip’s spiritual adviser and the author of Dead Man Walking, whose character was played by Sarandon in the 1995 film. Prejean and Sarandon are appealing to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to grant a stay of execution based on what they call the mishandling of Glossip’s case and poor legal representation.

Prejean tells Dr. Phil about one of her conversations with Glossip earlier this year: “He goes, ‘Sister Helen, I hope you don’t mind … but I want to ask you to be with me if I’m executed.’ And I will not just walk with that man, and be his spiritual adviser and hold his hand while he dies. His dying is wrong. The totally inadequate defense and no forensic evidence — and on that Richard Glossip is sitting on death row.”

Dr. Phil responds: “Well, we know in the American legal system, there are different standards of proof … To deprive someone of their liberty in America, to deprive someone of their life in America, is and should be the highest standard you can possibly imagine. Where 12 people go in a room and there is nothing that reasonable people could disagree about. There’s no possible way they could say there’s an alternative explanation that could even be considered. And in this case, the two of you, just in the few minutes that I’m talking to you here, have presented half a dozen alternative explanations, motives, for why [the man who claimed that Glossip hired him to commit the murder] would say what he’s doing. The absence of proof that would at least be a shred of doubt. Is that not violating the moral code of beyond a reasonable doubt for taking a man’s liberty and life? Is that not?”

Prejean answers, “Of course, I wish you had been Richard’s lawyer.”

Tune in to this episode of Dr. Phil on Monday, August 31 to see why Sarandon is moved to tears by Glossip’s exclusive statement from death row about his impending execution

Advertisements

Virginia relaxes restrictions on death row inmates


Virginia prison officials have relaxed the restrictive conditions under which death row inmates live and are in talks to settle a lawsuit over those prisoners’ near constant placement in solitary confinement — a signal that state authorities are willing to at least modify the incarceration practice that is facing increasing criticism across the country.
State officials revealed in a recent court filing that Virginia’s eight death row inmates are allowed weekly contact visits with family members and more opportunity for showers and recreation — including daily sessions in which they are allowed to mingle in person with up to three others slated to die.
Victor M. Glasberg, an attorney for four inmates in Virginia who are suing over their placement in solitary confinement, said the contact visits with family members, in particular, are “decidedly huge” for the inmates. But he said he is working to understand how the other changes have been implemented and whether the inmates are still forced to spend nearly 23 hours a day alone.
“The issue of the hours spent in solitary is a huge, outstanding issue,” Glasberg said. “They’ve said they want to negotiate in good faith, and I’m going to accept that.”
The four death row inmates represented by Glasberg alleged in a lawsuit late last year that being forced to spend so much time in solitary confinement constituted cruel and unusual punishment, causing them severe mental distress while they waited to be executed. The issue is one that is being examined across the country; Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for example, mused in June that it might be time for the high court to take a look at the use of solitary confinement.
Virginia Department of Corrections Director Harold W. Clarke said in an affidavit submitted in the case that, as part of a review of its policies and procedures for those slated to die, the department decided to provide more privileges to death row inmates who follow the rules.
Clarke said in his affidavit that death row inmates would be given an hour and a half of outdoor recreation time five days a week, an opportunity for “in-pod” recreation with three of their peers for an hour every day and the opportunity for daily showers. (Inmates had alleged that they were allowed just an hour of outdoor recreation time five times a week and thrice-weekly showers.)
Clarke also said death row inmates could have weekly contact visits with family members, and prison officials were working to construct facilities for them — including a covered recreation yard with a basketball court and stationary exercise equipment, and a multipurpose day room where they could purchase books and movies, make calls and send e-mails, play cards, and watch TV. Both areas, Clarke said, were expected to be finished by October.
Source: The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, August 29, 2015

EXECUTIONS SCHEDULED 2016-2017-2018


August 30, 2015


Month State Inmate
January
20 TX Richard Masterson
21 OH  Ronald Phillips
21 OH Jeffery Wogenstahl – STAYED^
27 TX James Freeman
February
16 TX Gustavo Garcia
19 OH Raymond Tibbetts
March
23 OH Alva Campbell – STAYED^
April
20 OH Gregory Lott
May
18 OH Angelo Fears
June
22 OH Warren Henness
July
20 OH Cleveland R. Jackson
August
15 OH William Montgomery
September
21 OH Kareem Jackson
October
19 OH Robert Van Hook
November
16 OH Jeffery Wogenstahl

Executions Scheduled for 2017


Month State Inmate
January
12 OH James Hanna
October
18 OH Melvin Bonnell

Executions Scheduled for 2018


Month State Inmate
January
3 OH John Stumpf
March
14 OH Douglas Coley
May
30 OH Stanley Fitzpatrick

 

 

Disease, suicide killing Ala inmates faster than execution


August 29, 2015

IRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Disease and suicide are claiming inmates on Alabama’s death row faster than the executioner.

With Alabama’s capital punishment mechanism on hold for more than two years because of legal challenges and a shortage of drugs for lethal injections, five of the state’s death row inmates have died without ever seeing the inside of the execution chamber.

John Milton Hardy, convicted of killing Clarence Nugene Terry during a robbery at a convenience store in Decatur in 1993, was the most recent death row inmate to die. Prison officials say he died of unspecified natural causes on June 15.

Convicted killer Benito Albarran, 41, hanged himself in the infirmary at Donaldson prison about two months earlier. A decade earlier, he was convicted of fatally shooting Huntsville police officer Daniel Golden outside a Mexican restaurant where he worked.

Golden’s brother, David Golden, said family members wanted to witness Albarran’s execution and felt cheated by his death.

“He took the coward’s way out,” Golden told reporters in Huntsville after Albarran killed himself.

Attorney Joseph Flood, who represented Albarran as he challenged his conviction in state court, said the inmate’s mother died a week or two before he took his own life.

“He fell into a deep depression after that,” said Flood.

In March, David Eugene Davis, 56, died of natural causes at Holman prison near Atmore after suffering from liver failure. He was convicted of killing Kenneth Douglas and John Fikes in St. Clair County in 1996.

Two more death row inmates died last year, Ricky Dale Adkins of cancer and Justin T. Hosch, who hanged himself at Holman prison. Hosch was convicted in Autauga County in the 2008 shooting death of Joey Willmore, and Adkins was condemned for killing real estate agent Billie Dean Hamilton in St. Clair County in 1988.

The last inmate put to death in Alabama was Andrew Reid Lackey, who died by lethal injection on July 25, 2013, for killingCharles Newman during a robbery in Limestone County in 2005. At the time, he was the first inmate put to death in the state since October 2011.

With 189 people currently on death row, the state is trying to resume executions, but legal challenges could be a roadblock.

The state is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by death row inmate Tommy Arthur, who challenged the use of the sedative midazolam as inhumane during lethal injections. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of the drug in an Oklahoma case, but Arthur contends Alabama’s execution protocol is different from the one used there.

The state switched to midazolam after it had to halt executions because it was out of other drugs needed for lethal injections.

Federal Judge Temporarily Halts Mississippi Executions


Judge Henry Wingate gave the order verbally on Tuesday, following up with a written order Wednesday, in a case that challenges the state’s lethal injection methods as cruel and unusual.

A federal judge has temporarily halted Mississippi from carrying out executions.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate gave the order verbally on Tuesday in response to a suit brought by death row inmates challenging Mississippi’s lethal injection methods as cruel and unusual.

On Wednesday, Wingate followed up with a written order, finding that the inmates are likely to succeed on their claim that “Mississippi’s failure to use a drug which qualifies as an ‘ultra short-acting barbiturate or other similar drug’ as required” by state law violates both that law and the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantees.

Under the order, Mississippi is barred from using “pentobarbital, specifically in its compounded form, or midazolam, from executing any death row inmate at this time.” Additionally, the state must inform the court of any other execution procedure it wishes to use before executing any inmate.

Mississippi had hoped to execute inmate Richard Jordan on Thursday for a murder as part of a kidnapping in 1976. The state’s execution protocol calls for three drugs — a sedative, followed by a paralytic and then a drug to cause cardiac arrest. The protocol is similar to the one approved by the U.S. Supreme Court this year, but inmates counter that the state is lacking safeguards that other states have — such as an EKG to verify the inmate is actually unconscious.

The inmates also say Mississippi is further constrained by state law that mandates executions be performed with an “ultra short-acting barbiturate or other similar drug.” In the middle of litigation, the state switched its anesthetic to midazolam, the drug the Supreme Court recently approved. However, it is not a barbiturate.

Mississippi, like many other death penalty states, attempts to keep the supplier of its execution drugs a secret.

Attorney General Jim Hood’s office has filed a notice with Wingate’s court that it is appealing the ruling.

Alabama death row inmate maintains state is wrongly ignoring his claims of innocence


The latest Alabama inmate seeking freedom from death row maintains the state is wrongly ignoring his claims of innocence while his health fails behind bars, one of his attorneys said Monday.
Legal arguments filed by Donnis Musgrove contend the state is arguing about technicalities rather than addressing legitimate concerns about the man’s 1988 conviction and death sentence.
Musgrove’s appeal is currently in federal court, and the defense is asking the judge to rule quickly because the prisoner has lung cancer and was hospitalized last week in grave condition, said Cissy Jackson, one of his lawyers.
“We would love to get him out of prison … so he could have some peace after being wrongfully imprisoned for so many years,” said Jackson.
Out of the hospital and sent back to Donaldson prison near Birmingham, Musgrove will be treated in the prison infirmary for an indefinite period, Jackson said.
The attorney general’s office didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on Musgrove’s legal arguments or health.
The state has argued that rules prohibit Musgrove from making new claims about being innocent and bar him from questioning evidence used in his trial, but prosecutors haven’t directly addressed his arguments about being wrongfully convicted based on bogus evidence conjured by prosecutors and police.
Musgrove, 67, was sentenced to die for the gunshot killing of Coy Eugene Barron in 1986, but his attorneys maintain the prosecution falsified every piece of evidence against him, including witness statements and a shell casing that was used to link him to the slaying.
Source: The Guardian, August 24, 2015

Veintidós personas de distintas nacionalidades están en el corredor de la muerte en Texas


Junto al nicaragüense Bernardo Tercero, cuya ejecución está programada para el miércoles de esta semana, hay otros 21 extranjeros en el corredor de la muerte en Texas, en su mayoría mexicanos y centroamericanos, aunque también los hay de Sudamérica, Asia y el Caribe.
Si nada lo impide, al nicaragüense lo ejecutarán el miércoles a las seis de la tarde locales en la cárcel de Huntsville, la más antigua de Texas y en la que ya han sido ajusticiados 13 extranjeros desde marzo de 1993, cuando el dominicano Carlos Santana murió a manos de sus verdugos.
Tercero fue condenado por asesinar a otro hombre en 1997 durante un atraco en una lavandería de Houston, crimen por el que ha pasado los últimos 15 años de su vida en el temido corredor de la muerte de Texas, ubicado en la cárcel de Polunsky.
Once mexicanos y tres salvadoreños, entre otros
Además de Tercero, en Texas están condenados a muerte 11 mexicanos, tres salvadoreños, dos hondureños, un argentino, un dominicano, un vietnamita, un bangladesí y una única mujer nacida en la isla caribeña de San Cristóbal y con pasaporte británico.
La mayoría está en la cárcel por un asesinato, aunque hay casos como el del mexicano Abel Ochoa que en 2002 mató a su esposa, a sus dos hijas de 7 años y de 9 meses, a su suegro y a su cuñada, o el del salvadoreño Héctor Medina, que mató a su hijo de tres años y a su hija de ocho meses en 2007.
Otros, como el mexicano Juan Carlos Álvarez está condenado por el asesinato de cuatro miembros de una banda rival en 1998 o el también mexicano Ignacio Gómez que mató en 1996 a tres personas tras una pelea.
Por su parte, el hondureño Edgardo Cubas y el salvadoreño Walter Sorto fueron condenados por el secuestro, violación y asesinato en 2002 de tres mujeres hispanas, una de ellas de 15 años, aunque hay sospechas de que pudieron estar involucrados en más casos parecidos.
Cubas estuvo a punto de ser ejecutado en 2014, pero finalmente suspendieron su cita con los verdugos.
Otros, como el salvadoreño Gilmar Guevara, que en el 2000 mató a dos personas durante un atraco, ya han agotado todos sus recursos legales y podrían recibir una fecha de ejecución en los próximos meses.
Una británica
Entre los casos más conocidos está el de la mujer británica, Linda Carty, condenada por el secuestro y asesinato de su vecina, Joana Rodríguez.
Según los fiscales, Carty estaba tan desesperada por tener un bebé y salvar su matrimonio que decidió raptar al recién nacido de Rodríguez, cuyo cadáver fue hallado un día después de su desaparición en el maletero de un vehículo.
Carty fue condenada con el testimonio de los autores materiales del crimen, pero ella siempre ha defendido que le tendieron una trampa y su caso ha atraído la atención de los medios de comunicación del Reino Unido.
No lejos de la controversia
La ejecución de ciudadanos extranjeros en los últimos años ha estado rodeada de polémica, ya que en 2004 la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ) de La Haya ordenó en el llamado “Fallo Avena” revisar el caso de 51 mexicanos condenados a muerte en Estados Unidos a quienes se les violó el derecho a notificación consular.
La Convención de Viena sobre Relaciones Consulares obliga a los Estados a informar a los consulados respectivos de la detención de ciudadanos extranjeros, así como al detenido de que tiene derecho a solicitar asistencia consular.
Desde la sentencia, Estados Unidos ha seguido ejecutando a ciudadanos extranjeros, cuatro de ellos “en franca violación” del “Fallo Avena”, según sostiene la Cancillería mexicana.
El director del Observatorio Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), Robert Dunham, dijo a Efe que “Estados Unidos ha violado las leyes internacionales en muchas ocasiones al ejecutar a ciudadanos extranjeros”.
Por su parte, el abogado de Tercero, Mike Charlton, afirmó que “Texas nunca ha respetado los derechos consulares”, por lo que no espera que la violación del derecho a esa notificación tenga ningún efecto en el caso del nicaragüense.
Según datos del DPIC, en Estados Unidos hay 139 extranjeros de 36 nacionalidades condenados a muerte, casi la mitad (61) están en California, mientras que en Texas hay 22 y en Florida 21.
Desde que el Tribunal Supremo de Estados Unidos reinstauró la pena de muerte en 1976, 31 extranjeros han sido ejecutados en todo el país.
Sin embargo, durante casi siete meses de 2015, Texas no ha impuesto la pena de muerte. En algunos casos, los jurados optaron por poner a los convictos tras las rejas de por vida.
Es parte de una tendencia, que indica que la pena de muerte podría estar siendo relegada. Los números muestran, según el exveterano fiscal de distrito Tim Cole, que la aplicación de la pena de muerte ha dejado de ser una herramienta a considerar invariablemente para los fiscales.
“Estamos demostrando como un estado que podemos vivir sin la pena de muerte”, señaló Cole.
Fuente: Univision.com y Agencias, 23/08/2015

Colorado lawmakers bump into death-row inmate Nathan Dunlap


August 17, 2015

In June, four Colorado legislators got face-to-face with death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, the Chuck E. Cheese killer whose execution was postponed last October by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the dismay of many pro-death-penalty Coloradans.

Like they do most summers, these members of the Capital Development Committee were touring state colleges, universities and other facilities to find out how taxpayers’ dollars are being spent and to consider future funding requests.

The June 8-10 tour took the committee to northeastern Colorado, to tour the Sterling Correctional Facility, which houses the state’s three death row inmates.

Legislators on the Sterling visit were Reps. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland and J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio; and Sens. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs and Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.

According to the legislators, the accidental encounter was uneventful and Dunlap was “very polite.”

Baumgardner said Dunlap came out of an elevator with a guard and had to walk through the group of mostly pro-death-penalty lawmakers because the space was so tight.

The inmate was held by the arm by the guard and was in full chains and shackles, according to Vigil.

“We were surprised,” Baumgardner said, and he believed Dunlap was as well.

Vigil described the situation as “surreal. It took me a second to recognize him,” he said.

“It’s a pretty nice facility,” Baumgardner said of the prison. There are things that need to be looked at, but that’s true for all of the state’s prisons, he added.

As to how meeting Dunlap impacted their opinions about the death penalty, the encounter didn’t change any minds, according to the legislators.

 

LOUSIANA : No A/C for death row inmates at Angola: decision made final, barring another appeal


August 17, 2015

Death row inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary who claimed in a federal lawsuit that triple-digit temperatures inside their cells at Angola amounts to cruel and unusual punishment have been denied a rehearing of their case.

The decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not to re-examine the case, which was handed down Friday (Aug. 14), upheld a decision delivered July 8 by a three-judge 5th Circuit panel. The July 8 decision found heat indices reaching up to 108 inside the inmates’ cells did, in fact, violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, the panel explained in its July 8 decision, the prison should not be required to install air-conditioning on death row to remedy the violation.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson had earlier ruled the conditions were unconstitutional and ordered the state to create and implement a plan, which included air conditioning, for cooling off death row.

The state appealed Jackson’s decision, but in the meantime, a plan was drafted. Death row tiers, built in 2008, are only heated and ventilated. The plan would have also provided inmate with chests filled with ice and allowed them daily cold showers. An appeals court intervened on behalf of the state before the prison ever put the plans in place, halting the implementation with an injunction while agreeing to take a look at the case.

The 5th Circuit on July 8 offered a few reasons why installing air conditioning on death row would have gone too far to provide relief for the plaintiffs. Air conditioning would be available year-round, when temperatures were often not extreme; it would cool off inmates who didn’t have medical conditions worsened by heat; and air conditioning “of course is expensive.”

Attorneys for the inmates argued in their request for a rehearing that Jackson’s order for air conditioning was less intrusive — and involved more micromanaging — than the remedies suggested by the panel.

The three inmates who filed suit, Nathaniel Code, 57; Elzie Ball, 60; James Magee, 35, all have medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, that can be exacerbated by high heat. 

It’s unclear, the inmates’ attorney Mercedes Montagnes indicated, whether or not the inmates will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We…have not yet decided our next step,” she said in an emailed statement.

Death row inmate seeks medical evaluation


August 17, 2015

A medical examination done Friday on a death row inmate convicted in a 1994 Columbia triple murder is expected to determine whether a benign brain tumor will cause complications with the state’s lethal injection protocol, according to federal court documents.

Ernest Lee Johnson has been in prison since June 1995, and a noncancerous tumor was discovered in his brain years later. Doctors removed part of the tumor in 2008, and the last scan of Johnson’s brain, in 2011, showed the remaining tumor wasn’t growing, according to a motion filed in June by one of his attorneys, Kansas City-based Jeremy Weis. The motion requested funding to hire physician Joel Zivot, assistant professor of anesthesiology and surgery at Emory University’s School of Medicine and the medical director of the cardio-thoracic intensive care unit at Emory University Hospital, to examine and evaluate Johnson.

Chief Judge Greg Kays of the Western District of Missouri in late June approved $7,200 for Zivot to review Johnson’s medical records and perform another scan of the condemned man’s brain, as well as to pay for travel time, consultation with attorneys and help in drafting an affidavit. Zivot will “render an expert medical opinion as to how Mr. Johnson will respond to the lethal injection drugs and whether he will respond differently than other Missouri inmates due to his unique medical condition,” Weis wrote.

Weis and Johnson’s other attorney, William Gaddy, did not respond to messages seeking comment. Michael Spillane, a Missouri assistant attorney general, is representing Troy Steele, the warden of Potosi Correctional Center, where Johnson is being held, who is named as the defendant in the case. Nanci Gonder, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said the examination was conducted on Friday and that Spillane is waiting to obtain a copy of Zivot’s findings. Johnson’s next court date has not been set.

The most recent federal litigation continues a flurry of post-conviction proceedings for Johnson. Johnson was convicted in 1995 of the Feb. 12, 1994, murders of Fred Jones, 58, Mary Bratcher, 46, and Mable Scruggs, 57. His death sentence was twice overturned, in 1999 and 2003. The Missouri Supreme Court in 2008 affirmed a 2006 Pettis County jury’s decision to put Johnson back on death row, despite arguments from his attorneys that his IQ was in the 60s, far below the average of 100. Attorneys had previously gotten the sentence reversed because of Johnson’s mental retardation. The state’s highest court in 2008 had ruled his representation hadn’t successfully proven Johnson’s mental handicap.

As Jones, Bratcher and Scruggs closed a Casey’s General Store on Ballenger Lane, Johnson came in armed with a handgun and robbed the cash register before bludgeoning the victims to death with a hammer and flat-head screwdriver.

Johnson’s case went to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in early 2013. A three-judge panel in December that year denied his application for appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court in October 2014 denied a petition to hear the case. Nothing has been filed in the pending U.S. District Court case since Kays approved Zivot’s examination on June 22.

© 2015 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.