Friday, April 17, 2015

Thirteen states asks Supreme Court to support lethal injection

Alabama and twelve other states  filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the three-drug combination being used by Oklahoma to execute inmates, reported
Lethal injection executions in Alabama and a number of other states have been put on hold pending the outcome of an Oklahoma case before the Supreme Court.
"These killers have raped and murdered children and stabbed prison guards to death.  It is outrageous for them to argue that lethal injection has too high a risk of pain to be a constitutional method of execution.  It is better than they deserve," Alabama Attorney General Strange, whose office joined in the brief, stated in a press release.
The amicus - or friend of the court - brief was filed in the Oklahoma case of Glossip v Gross. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case April 29 and is expected to rule in June.
The states' brief calls on the Supreme Court "to close the litigation floodgates" that "have ground executions to a halt in many states" by affirming "the constitutionality of Oklahoma's three-drug protocol."
Alabama and the other twelve states argue that the three-drug lethal injection protocol used by Oklahoma complies with the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, the press release states. It explains that states have adopted the protocol because of their inability to acquire other drugs and that Florida has used the protocol for 11 executions that were humane and successful.
Alabama and the other states state in the brief that offenders have repeatedly used court challenges of certain lethal injection drugs as ways to delay or avoid lawful executions, according to the press release. "There is no execution method or drug protocol that the states can adopt to stanch the flood of litigation, unless this Court strictly requires plaintiffs to identify a readily available alternative to the state's method of execution,"
The states joining Alabama in the amicus brief are Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Texas executes cop killer

The 13th Execution of 2015
Texas executed Manuel Garza Jr. on April 16, 2015 for killing a police officer, the second time in less than a week the state has put a convicted cop-killer to death, reported the Huffington Post.
Garza, 34, was pronounced dead at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville at 6:40 p.m., the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. Asked to make a final statement, Garza said he was sorry for causing pain to his family, friends and "especially police officers," according to the Department of Criminal Justice.
“I know you probably hate me," he said. "What happened between me and Rocky happened too fast. I didn’t know what happened. I wish y’all peace and love. I hope you have found God just like I have. God bless y’all. I will see you on the other side. I love you.”
Garza was executed without last-minute appeals. His post-conviction lawyers were unsuccessful in a 2013 appeal that claimed Garza's defense during his 2001 trial was inadequate.
Garza was convicted in the February 2001 killing of San Antonio police officer John "Rocky" Riojas, 37, a member of an elite SWAT unit that had been targeting a rash of property crimes at an apartment complex, The Associated Press reports. When Riojas stepped out of his police car to ask Garza for his name, Garza, who had several outstanding arrest warrants, sprinted off.
“As I started running the cop was telling me to stop. I just wanted to get away. I knew I was gonna go to jail and I didn’t want that,” Garza said at the time, according to court records.
Riojas caught Garza and a struggle ensued. Garza grabbed the officer's weapon and fired, fatally striking the officer in the head.
The execution was the 524th in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state, according to Reuters.
To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Missouri carries out execution, the 15th in less than 18 months

The 12th Execution of 2015
Andre Cole was executed in Missouri only hours after a judge granted him a stay of execution. On April 14, 2015, Cole became the third convicted killer put to death this year in Missouri. His fate was sealed after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down several appeals, including one claiming Cole was mentally ill and unfit for execution, reported The Associated Press.
Gov. Jay Nixon refused a clemency petition that raised concerns about the fact that Cole, who was black, was convicted and sentenced by an all-white jury.
Mike O'Connell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, said Cole was executed by lethal injection at 10:15 p.m. and pronounced dead nine minutes later.
In the execution chamber, Cole nodded as relatives blew kisses his way. He chose not to make a final statement. He breathed deeply a few times as the drug was administered.
Cole declined any sedatives prior to the execution. He also declined to order a last meal and instead received the day's inmate tray, O'Connell said.
Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement he hoped "that the sentence carried out tonight brings those forever impacted by this tragedy a sense of justice and a measure of closure."
Cole and his wife, Terri, were married for 11 years and had two children before divorcing in 1995. The couple fought about visitation and he was upset about child support payments, authorities said.
By 1998, Cole was $3,000 behind in child support. Koster said Cole became angry when he learned that a payroll withholding order was issued to his employer, taking the money out of his check.
"Before I give her another dime, I'll kill (her)," Cole told co-workers, according to Koster.
The first deduction appeared on his Aug. 21, 1998, paycheck. Hours later, Cole forced his way into his ex-wife's home by throwing a tire jack through a glass door, Koster said. He was confronted by Anthony Curtis, a friend who was visiting.
Andre Cole used a kitchen knife to repeatedly stab Curtis, then Terri Cole. Curtis died but Terri Cole survived.
Cole fled the state but surrendered 33 days later. He claimed at trial that he did not bring a weapon into Terri Cole's house and that Curtis initiated the attack with a knife.
No relatives of Terri Cole or Anthony Curtis attended the execution.
Andre Cole's brother, DeAngelo Cole, 38, of Las Vegas, said the attack was out of character for his sibling. He called it a crime of passion.
"It was a one-time thing," DeAngelo Cole said. "He didn't have a history of that kind of behavior."
Cole's attorney, Joseph Luby, said Cole's mental health deteriorated during the more than a decade he spent in prison. He said Cole was plagued by psychosis and constantly heard voices in his head.
The courts were not convinced.
Both the Missouri Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to halt the execution based on mental health concerns. The U.S. Supreme Court also turned away appeals based on Missouri's secretive method of obtaining the execution drug pentobarbital and over how instructions were given to the jury.
The jury itself was the source of the clemency request to Nixon. Advocates for Cole, including the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and others, said his case was among many in which St. Louis County prosecutors unfairly prohibited black jurors from hearing a death penalty case involving a black suspect.
All 12 jurors in Cole's case were white. Kimber Edwards, who was scheduled for execution in May, was also convicted and sentenced by an all-white jury. The Missouri Supreme Court, without explanation, canceled the execution orders for Edwards earlier this month.
Missouri tied Texas for the most executions in 2014 with 10. Missouri has now executed 15 men since November 2013.
To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Missouri halts execution

Missouri death row inmate Andre Cole was supposed to die at 6 p.m., but a stay of execution order handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry halted that action, reported
Cole was originally placed on death row after a jury convicted him for fatally stabbing his ex-wife's friend, Anthony Curtis, 17 years ago in St. Louis County. Authorities said Cole was upset about child support payments.
However, Judge Perry ruled Monday night that Cole is "entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the issue of competence" before an execution can take place.
According to court documents, Cole showed signs of mental illness during a two-and-a-half hour interview with a forensic psychiatrist in February. The documents stated that Cole reported "being depressed, overwhelmed, and distracted by voices unfamiliar to him" in his head.
To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, April 13, 2015

PA Governor Wolf: State Police to carry heroin antidote

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wants to widen access to a prescription drug that can prevent fatalities from drug overdoses, reported The Associated Press.
In an op-ed piece published Monday by, Wolf said the Pennsylvania State Police will begin carrying nasal-spray kits of naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, in their patrol cars.
A spokesman says the policy will take effect in the coming weeks.
Wolf also says he's directed state Physician General Dr. Rachel Levin to write a "standing order" that serves as a prescription that allows every Pennsylvanian to obtain naloxone. The non-addictive drug can reverse the effect of heroin and other opioids such as oxycodone.
A new state law allows police to administer the antidote. It also allows doctors to prescribe it to friends and relatives of addicts.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Oklahoma legislature passes nitrogen hypoxia as execution method

A bill allowing the use of nitrogen gas in executions is headed to the desk of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, reported the Tulsa World.                                                                              
The Senate on Thursday passed House Bill 1879, by Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, by a vote of 41-0. The measure comes after last year’s execution of Clayton Lockett using a new, three-drug drug protocol.
The execution has been called a “procedural disaster” by an appellate court and thrust the state into the national spotlight after the inmate spent 43 minutes on the gurney before dying.
House Bill 1879 says that if lethal injection is held unconstitutional or otherwise unavailable, the execution should be carried out by nitrogen hypoxia.
Christian said the use of nitrogen gas is practical, efficient and humane.
“The process is fast and painless,” Christian said. “In fact, it is so painless that a person will pass out before they recognize they are in danger.”
Nitrogen gas has not been used to carry out an execution in the United States.
The measure retains lethal injection, electrocution and firing squads as forms of allowable executions.
“We don’t have a crystal ball, but we all know — and I think everyone here would agree — that lethal injection is on its way out,” Christian said. “It has become experimental.”
Oklahoma switched to a new drug in the three-drug cocktail after the original drug because unavailable. A lawsuit challenging the state’s new three-drug method is pending.
“Today, we are sending a message to the U.S. Supreme Court and the rest of the world that the people of Oklahoma realize that we have a problem and the people of Oklahoma have found a solution,” Christian said.
Christian said he expects other states to follow Oklahoma’s lead.
Meanwhile, the House on Thursday passed Senate Joint Resolution 31 by Sykes and Christian that would let people vote to affirm that the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment and that execution methods may be designated by the Legislature.
The measure passed by a vote of 80-10.
House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said the measure was the authors’ way of reaffirming the state’s position that Oklahomans are supportive of the death penalty, but it didn’t have any real significant legal effect.
“I do not think there is any danger whatsoever of the death penalty being overturned in Oklahoma, nor even at the federal level,” Inman said.
Sykes said he expects the constitutional amendment to overwhelmingly pass a vote of the people in November 2016.
That measure does not need Fallin’s signature, Sykes said.
To read more CLICK HERE

New York City homicides spike, up 16% from same time last year

Homicides in New York City spiked by nearly 16% this year, according to recently released NYPD statistics, reported the New York Daily News.
As of last week, 82 people have been murdered in the city — up 11 from the same period a year ago, officials said.
Shootings have climbed by 4%, with 258 people being wounded by gunfire so far this year compared with 248 in the first three months of 2014.
Nearly a quarter of the homicides took place in the Bronx, but the neighborhood with the largest amount of homicides was East New York, Brooklyn, where six people were slain.
Staten Island had the lowest number of homicides, followed by northern Manhattan, according to officials.
The jump in killings came despite a 12-day span over the first two weeks of February when no murders were recorded.
NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said six of the 11 additional killings are considered “reclassified homicides,” meaning the criminal deed occurred months or years earlier, but the victim had just recently died.
“The actual increase in homicide incidents occurring this year is five as of midnight (Sunday),” Davis said. “An increase or decrease of five incidents, given the overall numbers, is not considered at this point to be evidence of an unusual trend.”
To read more CLICK HERE