LINCOLN — If Nebraska succeeds in importing the $54,400 in lethal injection drugs it ordered from India, Gov. Pete Ricketts said Thursday he’s confident he won’t need to seek a refund.
During an interview Thursday on “The Bottom Line,” The World-Herald’s Internet radio broadcast, the governor was asked what happens to the state funds if the death penalty repeal ultimately remains in effect. Death penalty supporters are collecting signatures in an effort to let voters decide the fate of capital punishment in 2016.
“Would we then be able to sell it back to the people who sold it to us?” host Mike’l Severe asked. “Would we get our money back?”
The governor, a major contributor to the petition drive, said the state will need the drugs for the 10 men on death row, regardless of the drive’s outcome.
More coverage of capital punishment in Nebraska
“The Legislature actually doesn’t have the authority to go back and change sentences that have already occurred,” he said. “We’re still working under the premise that we’re going to continue to carry out the sentences for the inmates we have.”
State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, the chief sponsor of the law, has said that while the Legislature cannot change the death sentences of those already on death row, the repeal removed the statutory means for conducting an execution. That, he has said, leaves the death row inmates with a sentence that can’t be carried out.
The state has not yet imported the drugs it bought in May from a broker in India. An official with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said one of the two drugs Nebraska purchased can’t legally be imported.
Ricketts said Thursday that state officials remain in discussions with the Drug Enforcement Administration to get the drugs shipped. He offered no timeline, however, on when the drugs could arrive.
A DEA official has said the agency is working in tandem with the FDA on the issue, suggesting Nebraska would not be able to use one federal agency to go around another.
The governor repeated his stance that the death penalty is a necessary policy for public safety. In particular, he said he believes it’s important to protect law enforcement and correctional officers who work with inmates serving life terms.
“That’s why I feel so strongly the folks in Nebraska should have a chance to vote on it,” he said.
The governor also was asked about a new “re-employment” program being launched by the Nebraska Department of Labor with his support. The program seeks to get unemployed people back to work as quickly as possible.
A key part of the program requires those seeking unemployment benefits to meet with a jobs coach so they can post a résumé online. That résumé could then be searched by Nebraska employers seeking to fill vacancies.
“In a state where we have a 2.6 percent unemployment rate, we’re really working hard to make sure we can do the best job possible to connect people who are looking for jobs with the companies that have them,” he said.
Ricketts, a former executive with TD Ameritrade, often discussed how he would work to make government function more like a business if he were elected. On Thursday, he said he is requiring his department heads to set goals and devise methods for measuring progress toward the goals.
For example, he mentioned the common complaints of long hold times when citizens call into AccessNebraska, the call center for public benefits. The Department of Health and Human Services, which operates the program, now keeps monthly statistics on hold times.
“If we don’t have any measurements, how can we hold people accountable?” the governor said.
Jurors have reached a decision in the second phase of sentencing for convicted mass murderer James Holmes.
Under Colorado law, the jury can move death penalty proceedings forward to a third phase, or sentence the Aurora theater shooter to life in prison without parole.
The verdict will be read at 12:30 p.m. MT (2:30 p.m. ET).
We ask the Federal Government of the United States to abolish the federal death penalty. While we recognize the rights of states to determine within their borders the limits of punishment, the United States remains one of increasingly few nations who endorse this archaic practice AS a nation. Recently botched lethal injections caused torturous, cruel and unusual deaths for a number of those so sentenced. This sort of problem is not the first in the history of the DP’s institution. Public support for the sentence is currently at an all time low. Fewer states are allowing this sentence than ever in the his. Innocent people have been killed and such situations are cruel and blatantly unconstitutional. This would be an admirable first step to correctional reform.Please set this needed example.
April 25, 2014
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An ex-Marine was sentenced to death Thursday for murdering a fellow service member in 2009, after a federal jury concluded he had been responsible for a series of violent, sexually motivated attacks on women and young girls over the last nine years.
The jury deliberated for less than four hours before sentencing jorg, of Zion, Ill., to death for the murder of Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell, a Las Vegas native, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, in a barracks where both lived a few doors down from each other.
On the verdict form, the jury also unanimously concluded that Torrez also killed two young girls — 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias — in 2005 in his hometown of Zion, when he was just 16.
After Torrez was found guilty earlier this month of Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell’s murder, Torrez ordered his lawyers not to put on any defense or question the government’s case during the trial’s sentencing phase. On Thursday, during closing arguments in the morning and when the verdict was read in the afternoon, Torrez sat impassively in front of the jury in his green jail jumpsuit, forgoing the civilian clothes he has worn all trial.
His lawyer, Robert Jenkins, left little doubt that Torrez preferred a death sentence to life in prison, though he would not directly confirm it.
“My client certainly had a goal, and I think in his mind, he achieved that goal, and I think he welcomed it,” Jenkins said. “It wasn’t as much a trial as it was an assisted suicide.”
During Thursday’s closing arguments, prosecutor James Trump emphasized to the jury that Snell’s murder was far from his only crime. The Illinois girls’ murders were especially brutal — jurors saw gruesome photos of Hobbs’ body with stab wounds to the eyes that medical experts concluded occurred while she was still alive. Semen found on Hobbs was linked by DNA evidence to Torrez.
And in 2010, Torrez committed a series of stalking attacks on three women in northern Virginia, including one who was raped, choked and left for dead. It was Torrez’s arrest in those cases that helped investigators tie him to Snell’s murder and the Illinois slayings. He is already serving a life sentence for the Arlington attacks.
Until his arrest in Virginia, Trump told jurors, Torrez believed he had literally gotten away with murder.
But Torrez bragged about the killings to another inmate after his arrest in the Arlington attacks, and prosecutors played recordings of those confessions to the jury in which he laughed about the killings and showed no remorse.
Trump reminded jurors that Torrez bragged about being “an army of one” while preying on defenseless children.
“There’s no room for doubt. Jorge Torrez deserves to die,” Trump said.
Torrez is the first person since 2007 to be sentenced to death at the federal courthouse in Alexandria. Torrez will join 59 other prisoners on federal death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Torrez will be formally sentenced May 30. The judge, Liam O’Grady, does not have the option to change the death sentence, unless he finds some sort of legal error.
The federal government has not executed anyone since 2003. Jenkins said that some of the usual appellate steps in a capital case will be carried out whether Torrez acquiesces to them or not. Other appeals, Jenkins said, are voluntary, so the length of the appeals process could be shortened considerably if Torrez maintains his current stance.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said it is highly unusual among the federal death row inmates to have a defendant who does not fight to stop his execution. Dieter said Torrez’s stance “creates a lot of unknowns” but agreed that it could result in a dramatically shorter appeals process.
Just because an inmate wants to be executed, though, doesn’t mean it will happen automatically, Dieter said. Legal challenges, such as the constitutionality of the lethal injection process, can potentially affect all death-row inmates and not just those who have filed the challenge, he said.
April 23, 2014
A day after the Oklahoma supreme court issued a stay of execution for two convicted killers, the governor issued her own order on Tuesday that the state would carry out their sentences next week, setting up a possible legal confrontation over constitutional powers.
Republican governor Mary Fallin said the state supreme court acted “outside the constitutional authority” of its mandate in staying Clayton Lockett’s execution. She granted a stay of seven days for Lockett, escheduling his execution for 29 April, the same day condemned inmate Charles Warner is scheduled to be executed. But legal experts said the supreme court’s stays must be followed and the governor lacks the power to reset the date.
“Governor Fallin is a politician, and not a lawyer,” said Randall Coyne, a constitutional law expert at the University of Oklahoma. “According to well established precedent of the US supreme court, the courts – not executive officials – have the final word on what is constitutional. She of course has the right to disagree with judicial decisions, but they remain the law. The governor is dangerously close to precipitating a constitutional crisis.”
The day before Lockett’s planned execution, the Oklahoma supreme court on Monday indefinitely delayed his and Warner’s executions while they challenge the constitutionality of a law that keeps secret the source of the state’s execution drugs. The state’s highest court stepped in after two weeks of legal tussles in which it and the court of criminal appeals both said they did not have the authority to grant a stay.
On Tuesday, the office of the attorney general, Scott Pruitt, asked the state supreme court to rehear the case, arguing the court had caused chaos for the bifurcated appeals system of the state. The supreme court denied that petition 6 to 3 on Tuesday, essentially rejecting Pruitt’s questioning of the court’s jurisdiction.
Fallin then stepped in with an executive order, telling Pruitt’s office to file papers with the Oklahoma court of criminal appeals that would give her a blueprint as to how to implement the execution order.
And separately, the Associated Press reported that a member of the Oklahoma House drafted a resolution on Wednesday seeking the impeachment of state supreme court justices who granted the delay.
Republican state representative Mike Christian told The Associated Press that the five justices engaged in a “willful neglect of duty” when they granted stays of execution. An impeachment effort would have no impact on the current proceedings
“This is a case of our state’s judges inserting their personal biases and political opinions into the equation,” Christian told the Associated Press.
Eric M Freedman, a constitutional law expert at Hofstra University, said Fallin’s order is “pure political posturing”.
“The probability that the state will succeed in carrying out the executions in defiance of the stays entered by the Oklahoma supreme court hovers between zilch and zero,” he said.
Lockett and Warner challenged the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law that keeps the source of execution drugs secret. An Oklahoma county district court judge ruled in their favor in March, and judge Patricia Parrish said the statute violated their right to due process. Lawyers for Lockett and Warner say it would be “unthinkable” to carry out the executions while that challenge is unresolved.
Oklahoma attorney Stephen Jones, a Republican who served as counsel to Republican governors, said Tuesday’s developments were about politics, and Fallin has made a power grab of the state judiciary.
“It gives them something to campaign upon,” Jones said.
He said executing the men despite the court’s stay would create a “nasty confrontation” that the governor and attorney general would legally lose.
“She should have stayed out of it and let the courts work it out. She doesn’t really have a dog in the fight. Frankly I think it’s a sign of weakness on the part of the attorney general that he got the governor to do that. Scott Pruitt has not practiced much as a lawyer,” Jones added.
Brady R Henderson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said the governor can delay an execution, but her resetting of the execution date is unlikely to hold up legally.
“The Oklahoma constitution simply does not give her the power to do that,” Henderson said.
“It is important to remember that the entire matter comes from a relatively simple request from two condemned men to find out about the drugs that would be used to kill them,” he said. “There are serious concerns about the conduct of the lethal injection process, and an Oklahoma law attempts to bar the inmates and everybody else from finding out important information about the process. In other words, it puts a veil of secrecy over one of the most grave functions of state government – killing its own citizens.”
April 15, 2014
Je tiens à remercier tous les pays francophones qui suivent mon blog, malgré que les informations soient en anglais Je remercie les pays africains aussi, les personnes d’amérique du Sud, les émirats Arabe, je remercie le monde entier de me suivre de plus en plus nombreux, Je remercie les followers sur twitter aussi ! Merci à tous
Queria dar la gracias à todos los paises de habla hispana de seguirme, aunque las informaciones esten en ingles, Doy las gracias a todos los paises de africa tambien, a los Emiratos Arabes, gracias al mundo entero de seguirme siempre mas numerosos. Doy las gracias a los followers de Twitter ! Gracias a todos
I want to thank all English-speaking countries who follow my blog, Thank African countries also, people of South America, the Arab Emirates, I thank the world to follow me you are each time more numerous, I thank followers on twitter too! Thank you to all
“I would like to remind my children once again I love them,” Villegas said when asked if he had a statement before being put to death. “Everything is OK. I love you all, and I love my children. I am at peace.”
High court refuses to stop execution in Texas
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt the scheduled execution of a man convicted of killing three members of a Corpus Christi family.
The high court, on a 5-4 vote, rejected arguments from attorneys for Jose Villegas who said the 39-year-old is mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty.
The ruling came Wednesday about 30 minutes after a six-hour window opened for Villegas’ lethal injection for the fatal stabbings 13 years ago of his ex-girlfriend, her 3-year-old son and her mother.
Villegas’ lawyers contended testing in February showed he had an IQ of 59, below the IQ of 70 that courts have embraced as a threshold for mental impairment. State attorneys disputed the test result and called it a late attempt to delay the punishment.
As usual, Execution Watch will air, starting at 6pm and have an taped interview with Jose,
Execution Watch with Ray Hill
can be heard on KPFT 90.1 FM,
in Galveston at 89.5 and Livingston at 90.3,
as well as on the net here
from 6:00 PM CT to 7:00 PM CT
on any day Texas executes a prisoner.
April 16 update
Execution Watch with Ray Hill
can be heard on KPFT 90.1 FM,
in Galveston at 89.5 and Livingston at 90.3,
as well as on the net here
from 6:00 PM CT to 7:00 PM CT
on any day Texas executes a prisoner.
April 15, 2014
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Jose Villegas was out on bond for a sexual assault charge and was supposed to go on trial in Corpus Christi for punching a woman in the face on the same day 13 years ago that he stabbed ex-girlfriend, her son and her mother to death.
The former cook, dishwasher and laborer was arrested after a police chase and charged with capital murder for the deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Erida Salazar, her 3-year-old son, Jacob, and her mother, Alma Perez, 51.
Villegas, 38, was set for lethal injection Wednesday for the slayings. He would be the seventh Texas inmate executed this year and the fifth in as many weeks in the nation’s most active death penalty state.
His attorneys argue that the punishment should be put off so they have additional time to investigate evidence they’ve recently found that Villegas is mentally impaired and ineligible for execution. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused Monday to halt the punishment and lawyers for Villegas said they would take their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Salazar’s father, returning home Jan. 22, 2001, from jury duty, found the bloody body of his wife and had a neighbor call police. He then went back inside to find his daughter, 23, and grandson also dead. Court documents show Salazar was stabbed 32 times, her son 19 times and mother 35 times. A television and car also were taken from the home.
Police spotted Salazar’s car with Villegas behind the wheel and he led them on a chase that ended when he bailed out on foot. When he was caught, officers found three bags of cocaine inside his baseball cap.
Testimony at his 2002 capital murder trial showed Villegas told police he pawned the stolen television for $75, used the money immediately to buy cocaine and hoped to commit suicide by overdosing.
“We had a confession, DNA, witnesses who saw him leaving the house afterward,” Mark Skurka, the Nueces County district attorney who prosecuted the case, said. “He killed the mom first, then his girlfriend, then the baby.”
Jurors deliberated less than 20 minutes before convicting him.
Villegas had multiple previous arrests, including burglary, making terroristic threats to kill a woman, assaults and two counts of indecency with a child for exposing himself and fondling the daughter of the woman he was accused of punching in the face. Records showed he had spent at least 200 days in jail and four years on probation.
Defense attorneys at his trial acknowledged Villegas committed the slayings but said they were not intentional and he was mentally ill. A defense psychiatrist blamed his behavior on uncontrollable rages caused by “intermittent explosive disorder.”
“Punishment was the only issue,” Grant Jones, one of Villegas’ trial lawyers, recalled this week. “I’ve been trying criminal cases over 40 years and I’d say in about 80 percent of the cases, mental health is a factor to one degree or another.”
Relatives said Salazar’s mother had urged her to leave Villegas when she learned of the sex charges against him.
Villegas would be the third Texas inmate executed with a new stock of pentobarbital from a provider corrections officials have refused to identify, citing the possibility of threats of violence against the supplier. The Supreme Court has upheld that stance.
Texas and other death penalty states have been scrambling for substitute drugs or new sources for drugs for lethal injections after major drugmakers — many based in Europe where death penalty opposition is strong — stopped selling to state corrections agencies.
April 10, 2014
A New York man who threatened two television hosts covering Jodi Arias’ murder case will stand trial on May 8.48-year-old David Lee Simpson was originally scheduled to face a Maricopa County judge on April 1, but officials have pushed back his court date, the Associated Press reported this week.
Investigators allege the Bath, N.Y. resident sent threatening tweets to TV personalities Jane Velez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace during their extensive coverage of Jodi Arias’ proceedings.
Simpson also reportedly tried to scare an unidentified Arizona woman on Twitter concerning Arias, who was convicted of first-degree murder for killing former lover Travis Alexander in his Mesa home.
Simpson now faces five felony counts for the Twitter threats, which he reportedly directed at both of the HLN Network analysts while they reported on the Jodi Arias trial in 2013. Simpson has pleaded not guilty to each charge against him.
Although the 48-year-old was in the state of New York when he posted the tweets, Arizona officials said the threats were sent to Grace and Velez-Mitchell while they were covering a case happening in Maricopa County. Simpson’s trial, therefore, will take place in the south-central Arizona county.
33-year-old Arias was indicted for the June 2008 death of Alexander on May 8, 2013. But a jury couldn’t come to a unanimous decision for her sentencing at the time. The prosecution was pushing for the death penalty while Arias’ defense team tried for life in prison. After multiple pushbacks, Arias’ final sentencing date has been scheduled for September of this year. A jury will decide at that time whether Arias should be put to death, or if she’ll be sentenced to natural life in prison with no parole option.
If jurors can’t reach a decision at that time, the death penalty will automatically be taken off the table. In that instance, Arias would theoretically be sentenced to life in prison.
Attorney Mark O’Mara, who represented George Zimmerman in his murder case, recently weighed in on Jodi Arias’ odds of escaping the death sentence. O’Mara told HLN-TV that Arias’ chances are stacked against her, since it appeared as though she prepared to kill Alexander before carrying out the murder.
“There’s really a lot against her, the fact that she tried to ingratiate herself to the jury and that didn’t work is really going to hurt,” O’Mara said. “On the other hand, the defense has to focus on this lady being out of touch with reality, some mental health mitigation, which is what we call in the business trying to get away from the death penalty by showing that there’s things about Jodi Arias that you should sort of forgive her for.”