death penalty news----TEXAS, N.C., ALA., ARK.
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Rick Halperin
2017-11-07 15:04:46 UTC
Raw Message
Nov. 7

TEXAS----impending execution//Vienna Convention issues

UN experts urge US to halt Texas execution of Mexican Ruben Cardenas Ramirez

2 UN human rights experts have called on the US Government to halt the
execution of a Mexican national amid concerns that he did not receive a fair

Ruben Cardenas Ramrrez is due to be executed in Texas at 18:00 CST on 8
November 2017.

"If the scheduled execution of Mr Cardenas goes ahead, the US Government will
have implemented a death penalty without complying with international human
rights standards," the experts said. "This will be tantamount to an arbitrary
deprivation of life.

"We call for his death sentence to be annulled and for Mr Cardenas to be
re-tried in compliance with international standards relating to due process and
fair trial."

Mr Cardenas, who was convicted of capital murder in 1998, did not have access
to a lawyer for the first 11 days of his detention. Some of the statements he
made during this period were relied on by prosecutors during the trial.

At the time of his arrest, Mr Cardenas was not informed of his right to seek
consular assistance. The UN's International Court of Justice later found that
the US Government had breached its obligations under the Vienna Convention on
Consular Relations, and ordered the Government not to execute Mr Cardenas until
his case had been reconsidered.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has also called for a new trial
which respects due process and fair trial standards.

The experts added: "If Texas proceeds with the execution of Mr Cardenas, this
action will put the US in breach of its obligations under the International
Covenant on Civil and Political rights, which are binding on all levels of
government and public authorities."

(source: yubanet.com)


Commentary: A sad day for human rights in Texas

An execution date for Ruben Cardenas-Ramirez, a Mexican national challenging
his murder conviction, was set for Wednesday.

Tomorrow could be a sad day for those of us who believe in human rights. If
Ruben Cardenas-Ramirez, a Mexican national, faces his scheduled execution,
another battle to preserve the right to life and justice will be lost.

For the government of Mexico this is not an issue about culpability or
innocence, but about respect for human rights and due process. Because we hold
these principles as unalienable rights, Mexico has displayed a solid legal
strategy to assist Cardenas-Ramirez and 57 other Mexican nationals who are
facing the death penalty in the United States.

Since the beginning of his case - Cardenas-Ramirez was charged in the 1997 rape
and murder of his 16-year-old cousin in South Texas - he was denied the right
to due process of law, as he was not granted prompt access to consular
assistance. Mexico presented Cardenas-Ramirez's case to the International Court
of Justice, along with those of other Mexican nationals sentenced to death in
the United States. In 2004, the court decided in the Case Concerning Avena and
Other Mexican Nationals. The judgment stated that the U.S. breached its
obligations under international law by not notifying Mexican authorities about
the arrest of 51 of its nationals, thus denying them the right to consular
assistance from their government.

In 2010, at the request of the government of Mexico, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights issued its opinion on the matter. The commission
recommended that the government of Texas cancel the execution of
Cardenas-Ramirez and provide him with a new trial. Furthermore,
Cardenas-Ramirez's case was included in the Mexican government's Capital Legal
Assistance Program, which provides highly specialized legal assistance for
Mexicans facing the death penalty in the United States.

Through legal and diplomatic channels, Cardenas Ramirez's lawyers have
requested that Texas authorities consider their client's claim of innocence and
allow a new DNA test to be conducted. Additionally, the government of Mexico
has repeatedly requested that Texas honor U.S. international commitments and
abide by international law.

Despite all efforts, an execution date was fixed for Wednesday. In response,
the government of Mexico and many other countries, as well as international
organizations and civil society, have petitioned Texas authorities for clemency
on behalf of Cardenas-Ramirez. The Consulate General of Mexico in Austin
delivered over 20 petition letters from Mexican federal and state authorities
to the governor of Texas and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The
petition has been echoed by other nations that firmly oppose the death penalty.

Mexico stands against the execution of Ruben Cardenas-Ramirez and any other
person facing the death penalty. According to the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights, capital punishment undermines human
dignity. It has an irrevocable nature, posing an unacceptable risk of executing
innocent people. There is no evidence proving that the death penalty serves as
a deterrent to crime. Furthermore, it has been deemed to be a form of torture
or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, given the extreme conditions
prisoners endure for many years while waiting in death row.

The government of Mexico firmly believes in the fundamental nature of the right
to life. For this reason, we consider that capital punishment constitutes one
of the most essential violations of human rights. Like many countries, Mexico
opposes capital punishment. Tomorrow will be a day of grieving. Nonetheless, we
will continue tirelessly protecting our nationals.

(source: Commentary; Gonzalez-Gutierrez is the consul general of Mexico in
Austin----Austin American-Statesman)


Simpson murder suspects to face death penalty----District Attorney: 'They lured
him out to this location in Caswell County' to attack and kill 84-year-old

District Attorney Pat Nadolski informed the court Monday, Nov. 6, that his
office will seek the death penalty against Sean Damion Castorina and Penny
Michelle Dawson, each charged with 1st-degree murder in the death of Harold D.
Simpson, 84, this past summer.

Castorina, 42, and Dawson, 40, are accused of killing Simpson in rural Caswell
County in August, fleeing to Virginia where, Nadolski said, they shot another
woman and left her for dead, and ultimately were arrested in Fergus Falls,

Simpson went missing Aug. 19. His silver 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt was found
abandoned in Nelson County, Va., 3 days later, and according to police, items
belonging to Castorina and Dawson were found inside.

Human remains believed to be Simpson's were found in late August off Totten
Road in Caswell County.

Nadolski said Dawson had befriended Simpson months before his death with the
aim of getting "money and support," and on Aug. 19, they got him to the
isolated place.

"They lured him out to this location in Caswell County," Nadolski said.

Nadolski said both defendants attacked Simpson, tried to strangle him, and then
killed him by shoving his own walking stick down his mouth and throat.

The couple fled to Shipman, Va., where Castorina had a friend. While trying to
steal some things from the friend's house, Nadolski said, the friend's
girlfriend came by to check on the house. Castorina and Dawson are charged also
with taking the Virginia woman against her will, tying her up, blindfolding
her, putting her in a bathtub, shooting her in the back of the head, leaving
her for dead and stealing her 2002 Dodge Dakota on Aug. 22.

The woman was taken to UVA Hospital in Charlottesville and was able to identify
Castorina and Dawson as suspects. Virginia State Police have charged Castorina
and Dawson with malicious wounding and use of a firearm.

While the prosecution believes Simpson was killed in Caswell County, according
to First Assistant District Attorney Corey Santos, the defendants planned the
murder and began the chain of events in Alamance County.

"It is our view that there is concurrent jurisdiction in both Alamance and
Caswell County, but we have elected to prosecute," Santos wrote to the

State law requires evidence of at least 1 of 11 aggravating factors in a murder
case before prosecutors can pursue capital punishment, including committing the
crime while incarcerated, against a law enforcement officer, or in the
furtherance of a violent crime such as rape or for financial gain.

In this case, prosecutors allege the aggravating factors are murder in the
course of another crime, for financial gain, and as part of a course involving
violent crimes against other people.

Castorina also faces the aggravating factor of previously having been convicted
of a violent crime. He was convicted in 2005 of 2nd-degree murder in Johnston
County and served 16 years, 6 months in prison.

"At this point there's not much to say," said Castorina's lawyer Todd Smith.
"He maintains his innocence, and we're ready to move forward, judge."

Dawson's lawyer is Robert Collins.

(source: thetimesnews.com)


Lexington man charged in fire, explosion on UNC campus

After deciding that Garry Gupton was guilty of setting a United States veteran
on fire and ultimately killing him, jurors now must decide whether Gupton
deserves a death sentence.

Jurors returned to Guilford County Superior Court Monday after a week off and
listened to Gupton's friends and family talk about what "a good person" Gupton

Last Monday, jurors found Gupton guilty of 1st-degree murder and 1st-degree
arson after setting Stephen White on fire in the Battleground Inn on Nov. 9,

White and Gupton met the night before at Chemistry Nightclub, a gay bar and
lounge. Gupton had been struggling with his sexuality but went back to the
hotel and had oral sex with White. Gupton testified that the sexual encounter
went further than he expected and he ended up beating and strangling White
before setting a fire next to White's unconscious body.

Doctors spent the next six days trying to save White, who suffered from burns
so severe his bones were exposed. White died from his injuries on Nov. 15,

Gupton's defense team, Ames Chamberlin and Wayne Baucino, tried to prove to
jurors that Gupton was insane at the time of the attack. Ultimately, the jury
decided he was guilty of both the murder and 1st-degree arson but was not

"We respect your verdict," Chamberlin told the jurors this morning. "We're no
longer talking about excuses or justifications."

Now, the defense is trying to point out the good qualities about Gupton and the
personal problems he went through before White's death. The defense wants to
stop the jurors from choosing the death penalty instead of life in prison.

Witnesses spoke Monday about those hardships, the friendships Gupton formed
with classmates and neighbors, and the support he gave to his family in moments
of sorrow.

They spoke of Gupton's diabetes diagnosis before kindergarten, the intense
bullying he experienced because of his disabilities, his mother's death while
he was in high school and his struggles with whether he was gay or straight.

Jurors heard from several classmates, a roommate, a neighbor, Gupton's
landlord, his boss, an aunt and his grandmother before taking a break for

Each told jurors that his actions did not change the way they felt about him.

"I will love him always," said Mabel Gupton, the defendant's grandmother.

The capital sentencing hearing resumes at 2 p.m.

(source: Winston-Salem Journal)


Supreme Court Removes Obstacle to Executing Alabama Inmate----The Supreme Court
has removed an obstacle to Alabama's efforts to execute a convicted killer who
is in declining health.

The Supreme Court on Monday removed an obstacle to Alabama's efforts to execute
a convicted killer who is in declining health, ruling the inmate knows he will
be put to death as punishment.

The justices unanimously reversed an appellate ruling that had blocked the
execution of Vernon Madison, who was convicted of killing a police officer in

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said his office would seek an execution
date for Madison.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that Madison, 67, is
incompetent to be executed because he has suffered from strokes and doesn't
understand his death sentence or remember what he did.

The Supreme Court said in an unsigned opinion that testimony shows Madison
"recognizes that he will be put to death as punishment for the murder he was
found to have committed," even if he doesn't remember the killing itself.

The court noted that federal courts' review of Madison's case is constrained
because of a 1996 law that was intended to limit federal judges'
second-guessing of state court decisions. State courts upheld Madison's death
sentence, and the Supreme Court, applying the 1996 law, said those decisions
should be respected.

"Under that deferential standard, Madison's claim ... must fail," the court

The justices have never ruled on whether someone who doesn't remember their
crime can be executed.

Madison was convicted of killing Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte, who had
responded to a domestic call involving Madison. Prosecutors said Madison crept
up and shot Schulte in the back of the head as he sat in his police car.

Madison has been on death row "nearly half his life," Justice Stephen Breyer
noted in a separate opinion in which he renewed his call for the court to
consider the constitutionality of the death penalty.

Attorneys from the Equal Justice Initiative who are representing Madison argued
that his health declined during his decades on death row and that strokes and
dementia have left him frequently confused and disoriented. The Equal Justice
Initiative is a Montgomery, Alabama-based nonprofit organization that
represents prisoners in need, including those on death row.

The appellate court in May halted Madison's execution seven hours before he was
scheduled to die by lethal injection. A divided U.S. Supreme Court maintained
the stay.

(source: Associated Press)


Supreme Court upholds death sentence for man who can't remember his crime

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Alabama prisoner on death row for more
than 30 years can be executed despite having no memory of his crime.

The justices, without any noted dissents, reversed a federal appeals court
ruling that had struck down Vernon Madison's death sentence for killing a
police officer. The lower court said that because Madison had suffered strokes
in prison and could not remember the crime, he could not make sense of his

But the Supreme Court ruled that there is a difference between condemned
inmates who cannot recall their crimes and those who cannot "rationally
comprehend the concepts of crime and punishment." They said under federal law,
Madison's lawyers had not proved he was incapable of understanding that.

State and federal courts had upheld the death sentence on that basis, but the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed those decisions.

The Supreme Court, however, said the state court reasonably "determined that
Madison is competent to be executed because - notwithstanding his memory loss -
he recognizes that he will be put to death as punishment for the murder he was
found to have committed."

3 of the court's more liberal justices - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer
and Sonia Sotomayor - agreed. But they said the court has never ruled on the
specific question of memory loss and should hear such a case in the future.

Breyer wrote separately to repeat his concerns, first aired in a 2015 case,
that the death penalty may be unconstitutional. Among many reasons, he said
Madison's imprisonment on death row since the 1985 murder means he has lived
with the specter of death for 32 years, which he said "can deepen the cruelty
of the death penalty while at the same time undermining its penological

(source: USA Today)

ARKANSAS----impending execution

Stay of Execution Filed for AR Death Row Inmate Greene

Attorneys for Arkansas Death Row inmate Jack Greene have filed an emergency
petition for a stay of execution with the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The petition was submitted late Monday morning.

The convicted killer has been scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday.

"Multiple doctors have diagnosed Jack Gordon Greene with a severe mental
illness-specifically, Delusional Disorder," the petition begins. "Greene
believes that, for the past 13 years, his attorneys and the Arkansas Department
of Correction have conspired to torture him."

"...in Greene's mind, his execution is the ultimate act in a cover-up of what
he calls "crimes against humanity," the motion continues.

The Arkansas Attorney General's Office issued this statement after the petition
was filed:

"Attorney General Rutledge is reviewing the petition filed today with the
Arkansas Supreme Court from Inmate Greene. She opposes the inmate's request for
a stay and will file a response within the time frame set forth by the Court."

(source: arkansasmatters.com)


Jury can't reach unanimous decision for Craig Wood sentence----After more than
4 hours of deliberation a jury could not come to a unanimous decision on
whether Craig Wood should be sentenced to death

A jury could not come to a unanimous decision Monday on whether Craig Wood, who
killed 10-year-old Hailey Owens in 2014, should be sentenced to death.

The jury's decision was announced after more than 4 hours of deliberation.

A motion for a new trial will be heard on Jan. 11. Judge Thomas Mountjoy said
that if the motion is dismissed, he will proceed to sentence Wood.

Prosecutors had argued Wood deserved the death penalty for kidnapping and
raping Hailey, then taking her down to his basement and shooting her in the

A 12-0 decision was needed from the Platte County jurors for Wood to get the
death penalty.

The jury found Wood guilty of 1st-degree murder last week. Under state law, the
only punishments allowed for a 1st-degree murder conviction are life in prison
and the death penalty.

Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson gave his closing argument, asking the
jurors to give Craig Wood the death penalty for murdering Springfield
10-year-old Hailey Owens.

"This is it," Patterson said. "This is the case. This is the case that calls
for strict enforcement of the law and the ultimate penalty, the death penalty."

Patterson reminded jurors of the details of the crime - Wood snatched Hailey
off the street, took the girl back to his home, sexually assaulted her and shot
her to death.

"I'm at a loss for words how to accurately and adequately describe what Hailey
went through on that day," Patterson said. "I just don't have the words to
describe it."

In his closing arguments, Wood's attorney Patrick Berrigan urged the jurors to
consider mercy.

"You now decide for yourself because each one of you is going to be living the
rest of your life with this decision, too," Berrigan told the jurors. "You
don't have to defend it, and you don't have to explain it."

There must be at least 1 "aggravating factor" to sentence someone to death.
State law outlines several aggravating factors, and prosecutors said several
apply to Wood's killing of Hailey, including that:

The jury found that all of those were acceptable aggravating factors. The jury
also found that none of the mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating

Ultimately, though, the jury passed the decision to sentence Wood to Judge

Hailey's mother, Stacey Herman, told reporters she trusts Mountjoy to make a
fair decision.

For at least 2 more months, Greene County residents will have to wait to hear
whether Wood dies of natural causes or at the hands of the state.

Berrigan previously said that Wood was willing to plead guilty and spend the
rest of his life in prison to avoid the death penalty.

Herman told the News-Leader in April that she would like to avoid a trial and
she asked Patterson to accept the plea deal.

(source: Springfield News-Leader)

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