Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Death Row Inmates Demand to be Executed

Three stories in the news today, from three different parts of the country tell the same story:  Death row inmates want to be executed.  In South Dakota, Delaware and Oregon inmates known as "volunteers" are waiving their right to appeal or are seeking the court's intervention to carry-out their own executions.

A man sentenced to death for killing a South Dakota prison guard does not want the state Supreme Court to delay his execution, the man's attorney said in a brief obtained recently by The Associated Press.

Eric Robert pleaded guilty to killing prison guard Ronald Johnson during a failed escape attempt last April and asked to executed. A judge sentenced him to death last fall and scheduled his lethal injection for May.

But the South Dakota Supreme Court vacated the execution last month to allow more time for a mandatory review to determine if the sentence is proper, a process that could delay the execution for possibly two years.

A Delaware death row inmate who has waived his right to all further appeals of his conviction and death sentence has been sentenced to die by lethal injection, reported WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.

A Superior Court judge set an April 20 execution date for Shannon Johnson during a brief hearing Wednesday. Johnson waived his right to a requirement that the execution be held no sooner than 90 days from the sentencing date.

Johnson was sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of a man whom he found sitting in a car with Johnson's former girlfriend. He later shot the former girlfriend, but she survived.

After the state Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence, Johnson said he did not want to pursue any further appeals.

Oregon death row inmate Gary Haugen thwarted in his bid to be put to death, is challenging the execution reprieve that Gov. John Kitzhaber issued in November, reported the Statesman Journal.

The 49-year-old, twice-convicted killer is pursuing a new execution date. Haugen’s attorney has mailed a motion to the Marion County Circuit Court asking for a new death warrant.

In a letter to Kitzhaber released this week, Portland attorney Harrison Latto asserts that the governor exceeded his constitutional authority in issuing Haugen a temporary reprieve. He said Haugen feels trapped in “legal limbo” and subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

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