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death penalty news----FLA., LA., KY., OKLA., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-11-30 13:38:52 UTC
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Nov. 30



FLORIDA:

Anti-death penalty rally to be held on Thursday



A rally in Gainesville on November 30, will mirror others around the world, to
end the death penalty.

The Diocese of Saint Augustine will hold a "Cities for Life" rally at Saint
Patrick Catholic Church at 6:30pm. Protests are common at Florida State Prison
during executions.

Speakers at Thursday's event will include a woman whose father and boyfriend
were both murdered, and a man who had been sentenced to be executed in Florida,
but was later exonerated.

November 30th marks the anniversary of the 1st time the death penalty was
abolished in Europe.

(source: WCJB news)








LOUISIANA:

In Louisiana, the Poor Face the Death Penalty Without a Lawyer----A years-long
public defender crisis in one of the harshest states in America keeps getting
uglier.



[This story was published in partnership with the Marshall Project.]

It has become an annual ritual in Louisiana: Nearly every winter, the state's
public defenders run out of money. Last year, 33 of the state's 42 local
indigent defense offices cut staff or placed thousands of poor defendants on a
wait list. The New Orleans public defender's office began refusing clients,
leaving hundreds to sit in jail without representation.

This year, there is another wait list. At least 11 Louisiana defendants facing
the death penalty - including 5 who have already been indicted - have no
defense team and may not have one until new money becomes available in July.
The list is likely to grow. In Louisiana, all 1st-degree murder defendants face
execution unless a prosecutor explicitly decides otherwise.

The latest crunch in Louisiana emerged from a law passed last year to try to
patch up the system. The legislation, signed by Democratic Governor John Bel
Edwards in June 2016, required Louisiana's state-level indigent defense agency
to spend more on the overloaded local defenders - the ones who handle regular
felony and misdemeanor cases - by spending less on lawyers in death penalty
cases. The law successfully delivered about $5 million in additional cash to
indigent defense offices around the state, including a $1.5 million boost for
New Orleans, which has since ended its hiring freeze and reduced its wait list
to essentially zero.

But funding for capital defenders was cut to $5.5 million from $8.5 million in
just a year.

(source: vice.com)








KENTUCKY:

State could seek death penalty in drunk driving case



The Carter County Circuit Court returned an indictment late last month against
23-year-old Dakota B. Griffith of Hitchins.

The October 20 indictment charges Griffith with, 'the offense of murder by
operating a motor vehicle under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference
to human life by being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and
operating said motor vehicle while under such state of intoxication.' This is a
capital offense under Kentucky Revised Statute 507.020.

The indictment alleges that Griffith's August 16 DUI offense lead directly to
the death of Pauline Oney.

Griffith was also charged with assault in the 1st degree for causing serious
physical injury to Jennifer Bradford in the same incident. That offense is a
class B felony.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt or innocence, but a charge that
an offense has been committed and a case is pending.

All defendants have the presumption of innocence until found guilty in a court
of law.

(source: Journal-Times)








OKLAHOMA:

District Attorney pursues death penalty 4 times in 3 months



The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office has pursued the death penalty for a
murder defendant 4 times in less than 3 months.

The 1st filing since Steve Kunzweiler has been D.A. happened in September. The
cases involved include:

Gregory Epperson, for the home invasion and strangulation death of Kelsey
Tennant in March.

Gerald Lowe and Michaela Riddle, for the gang-related torture and murder of
Courtney Palmer in November 2016.

Jacky Mayfield, for the shooting death of Markey Goff and Meshawna Jones at
Chamberlain Park in June 2016.

Kunzweiler said seeking the death penalty is not as easy as simply filing. A
1st-degree murder conviction must also meet at least 1 of 8 factors:

Previous conviction of a felony

Knowingly creating great risk to more than 1 person

Murder for hire

Especially heinous or cruel

Committed to avoid arrest or prosecution

While in prison on a felony conviction

The probability that the individual would continue to pose a threat to society

Murdering a peace or corrections officer while they are on duty

The prosecutors on the case then take the request to the death penalty review
board and work to prove the case meets one or more of the criteria.

The wishes of victims' families also have weight.

(source: Fox News)








USA:

Doctor says drug scarcity drove execution plan



A scarcity of lethal injection drugs nationwide drove plans to use a
never-before-tried 3-drug combination for Nevada's 1st execution in more than
11 years, the state's former top doctor told The Associated Press.

In his 1st interview since resigning a month ago, Dr. John DiMuro defended the
protocol he developed as Nevada's chief medical officer, saying he initially
wanted to use a heart-stopping medication similar to what other states have
used.

"We couldn't get the drugs. We had to work around being unable to obtain other
drugs," DiMuro said this week. "There's nothing in that protocol that we
developed and that we were going to implement that would be inhumane."

The anesthesiologist chose the sedative diazepam, the potent opioid fentanyl
and the muscle paralytic cisatracurium for the planned execution of convicted
murderer Scott Raymond Dozier.

None of the drugs has been used for lethal injection in the 31 states with
capital punishment, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information
Center. Many states have struggled for years to find drugs that pass
constitutional hurdles after pharmaceutical companies and distributors banned
their use in executions.

A judge in Las Vegas stopped Dozier's execution pending state Supreme Court
review, citing concerns the paralytic could "mask" muscle movements or prevent
witnesses from seeing indications of pain and suffering.

The inmate has said repeatedly he wants his execution carried out and doesn't
care if he feels pain.

DiMuro said he stands behind the protocol he created, while acknowledging that
the combination is "novel."

He said the drugs are commonly used in hospitals and surgical settings and that
the combination would be recognized by doctors as a modified anesthesia
technique for heart surgery.

A lethal injection expert, Jonathan Groner, a Columbus, Ohio, surgeon, said
combining diazepam and fentanyl could result in complications such as vomiting,
while the paralytic could prevent body movements and disguise any suffering the
inmate might experience.

Jen Moreno, an attorney at the Berkeley Law Death Penalty Clinic, said
Wednesday that Nevada "should not be permitted to push ahead with risky,
dangerous, and potentially unconstitutional procedures just because an
execution is scheduled."

DiMuro, who has returned to private practice, said quitting his state job after
15 months had nothing to do with the development of the lethal injection
protocol or the execution. He said he takes no position on the death penalty.

He talked with AP by conference call Monday from Reno, along with his brother
and attorney, Christopher DiMuro, in New Jersey. John DiMuro referred further
questions about the reason for quitting his state job to another lawyer, who
didn't immediately respond to telephone and email messages.

DiMuro said he worked with Gov. Brian Sandoval, the governor's top aide,
Michael Willden, and Nevada prisons chief James Dzurenda to develop the
execution plan.

It calls for the sedative diazepam, commonly known as Valium, to relax the
inmate; followed by the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl, which has been
blamed for overdose deaths nationwide; and finally the paralytic cisatracurium.

DiMuro said the 1st 2 drugs might be deadly, but the paralytic would ensure the
inmate would stop breathing. The doctor estimated that death could occur 5 to
15 minutes after loss of consciousness.

DiMuro said he might have added a fourth drug such as potassium chloride to
stop the heart, or propofol, the powerful anesthetic blamed for the death of
Michael Jackson, but they are not available for lethal injections.

Nevada obtained the drugs for Dozier's execution in May from its regular
pharmaceutical distributor, Cardinal Health. It is not clear if the company
knew their intended use. The state is refusing pharmaceutical company Pfizer's
demand to return the diazepam and fentanyl it manufactured.

Dozier, 47, was convicted of separate murders in 2002 in Phoenix and Las Vegas.
He would become the 1st person put to death in Nevada since 2006.

DiMuro said he didn't know why state prosecutors didn't bring him to court
after his resignation to rebut testimony from a Harvard University
anesthesiology professor who challenged the 3-drug protocol.

The Nevada attorney general's office declined to comment on the case.

A judge called a hearing 11 days before the scheduled execution to hear from
Dr. David Waisel, an expert witness for federal public defenders, who Dozier
allowed to challenge the untried execution protocol.

Waisel testified that if diazepam and fentanyl weren't properly administered or
didn't reach Dozier before the 3rd drug, he could be left "paralyzed and awake,
which would be a horrifying experience."

Public defender David Anthony argued that Dozier might be left "alive and
suffocating" with ineffective anesthesia and that administrators would be
powerless to stop the process.

DiMuro told AP that would be impossible to assess and there would be no way to
know if movement after the drugs are administered indicates awareness or pain.

But "there is no intent to 'mask' anything," he said.

(source: Associated Press)

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