Discussion:
death penalty news----OHIO, MO., OKLA., NEB.
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Rick Halperin
2017-11-10 14:42:21 UTC
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Nov. 10




OHIO----impending execution

Gov. Kasich denies clemency request for ill Ohio inmate



Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he won't spare the life of a condemned killer who
has cited his poor health and tough upbringing in an attempt to avoid
execution.

The Republican governor's decision Thursday came in the case of Alva Campbell,
who was sentenced to die for fatally shooting 18-year-old Charles Dials after a
1997 carjacking.

The 69-year-old Campbell is scheduled for execution Nov. 15.

Campbell's attorneys say he uses a walker, relies on an external colostomy bag,
requires four breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer.

They also say Campbell was the product of a violent, dysfunctional and sexually
abusive childhood.

Prosecutors say Campbell's health claims are ironic given he faked paralysis to
escape court custody the day he killed Dials.

(source: Associated Press)

*************************

Defense attorneys for convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland quit the
case----Deters blames public defender's interference



An angry prosecutor Joe Deters is blaming a public defender in Columbus for
interfering in the resentencing case of serial killer Anthony Kirkland and
forcing 2 defense attorneys to quit.

Jury selection was supposed to begin Thursday, but instead, attorneys Perry
Ancona and Norm Aubin told Judge Patrick Dinkelacker that they had to withdraw.
Deters was riled because the attorneys revealed that Rachel Troutman from the
Ohio Public Defenders Office had advised Kirkland that she was trying to get
Aubin taken off the case.

Kirkland was originally sentenced to death for killing 13-year-old SCPA student
Esme Kenney and 14-year-old Casonya Crawford in 2009 and 2006, respectively,
and burning their bodies.

According to Ancona, Troutman talked to Kirkland about his attorneys in 2 phone
calls.

"We're placed in the ridiculous situation this morning here," Ancona told the
judge. Ancona said prosecutors just this week gave him and Aubin CDs of
Kirkland's conversations with Troutman. They were calls Kirkland made from the
Justice Center almost a year ago on Dec. 15, 2016 and last month on Oct. 10.

"A person he referred to as Rachael Troutman on Dec. 15, 2016, indicated and
said she has been working behind the scenes to get rid of Mr. Aubin - get him
off the case," Ancona said in court.

In the 2nd call last month, Troutman used an expletive to describe the 2
attorneys.

"This person said that Norm and Perry may not necessarily do a good job
explaining how Anthony got where he is. I think that's clearly undermining our
efforts to work on his behalf," Ancona said.

Kirkland told the judge he only called Trautman because he couldn't get hold of
Ancona and Aubin.

"Your Honor, I haven't been able to contact these dudes - my attorneys. Made
efforts to contact them," Kirkland said. "I tried to put them on my phone list
to get their numbers in so I could talk to them. It was always denied. When I
seen them in court, it was only for a couple of seconds or a couple of minutes
during the time here and then they're off. Other times when I tried to contact
them, I sent them letters. I didn't get a response to my letters.

"The only way that I could make contact through them was going through familiar
territory where I was at."

Nevertheless, Deters called Troutman's actions "reprehensible" and said he
would take action against her.

"This borders on the most reprehensible conduct I've ever seen an attorney do
in all my years of practicing law," Deters said after the hearing. "This was
unconscionable for her to interfere and obstruct in this case and we're going
to find out what the remedies are.

"I mean, I'm not going to sit back and just let this go by. She clearly was
undermining the defense to the point where they can't even represent him
anymore? This is a very serious matter."

Deters wasn't finished. He went off on the Ohio Public Defenders Office and
state officials who oppose the death penalty.

"We're down in Cincinnati. We don't pay attention to what goes on in Columbus,
and it's my belief that the Ohio Public Defender's Office creates a culture
where these attorneys feel enabled to do whatever the heck they want, any means
to an end," Deters said.

"Now, we've got 100 jurors waiting and they're being excused because of her
behavior. She slandered 2 very good defense attorneys with Perry and Norm and
she needs to be held accountable.

"But, the problem is we've got judges and bar association people that may have
some political bent that they don't believe in the death penalty and they
enable people to behave like this.

"So, we again, after bringing the family back in, they have to resume all the
pain and agony they went through when their loved one was murdered and we've
got to do it again because of the behavior of someone from the state public
defender's office.

"If you don't want the death penalty, go to the legislature and end it, but
this activity in the courts that they're permitted to get away with so many
times over and over again is unconscionable. It makes you lose your faith in
the system. It really does."

Deters said $250,000 has already been spent on the case and it could take
months for new lawyers to get up to speed.

Dinkelacker said he would appoint new attorneys on Monday.

WCPO has reached out to the Ohio Public Defender's Office for comment.

Kirkland was already serving a 70-year sentence for killing 2 women when he got
the death sentence in 2010 for murdering Kenney and Crawford. But the Ohio
Supreme Court decided that Kirkland should be resentenced because of a comment
by Deters during Kirkland's sentencing.

"So I guess Casonya and Esme are just freebies for him," Deters said at the
time. The court found that Deters' comment insinuated that Kirkland would go
unpunished for the teens' murders unless he was put to death.

4 of the 7 Ohio Supreme Court Justices voted in favor of a resentencing
hearing.

"It is improper for prosecutors to incite the jurors' emotions through
insinuations and assertions that are not supported by the evidence and that are
therefore calculated to mislead the jury," the Ohio Supreme Court decision
said. "Although the crimes Kirkland is alleged to have committed are horrific,
due process requires that a jury be free from prejudice before recommending the
death penalty."

Kirkland's guilt isn't on trial this time around -- just his sentence.

Retired judge Norbert Nadel said this type of hearing is extremely rare. He
also said jury selection may take longer than the resentencing hearing itself.

"The prosecution will put on a synopsis and put on the investigators and all
that sort of thing," Nadel said. "It will be done in a brief fashion. (The
defense attorneys) have a great hill to climb because of the facts of that
case, the horrible facts of the case. They have a horrible, difficult hill to
climb -- as they should have."

(source: WCPO news)

***************************

Accused baby killer back behind bars in Ashtabula, could face death penalty



The Ashtabula County Grand Jury has secretly and directly indicted the man
accused with the rape and murder of a 13-month-old girl.

Joshua Gurto, 37, was taken into custody last month after he was spotted at a
gas station near Pittsburgh.

He was brought back to Ashtabula County Thursday morning and is being held in
the jail.

Gurto fled shortly after the girl was killed. Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky
Blankenship-Sutley, 13 months, died after being found Oct. 7 with blunt force
trauma to the head and trunk.

The Conneaut Law Director's Office filed charges and obtained an arrest warrant
for Gurto in Sereniti's murder and rape. He is believed to be the boyfriend of
the baby's mother.

Gurto has been on indicted on several charges including the following:

2 counts of aggravated murder, an unclassified felony offense

3 counts of murder, an unclassified felony offense

1 count of rape, a 1st degree felony

1 count of felonious assault, a 1st degree felony

1 count of domestic violence, a 1st degree misdemeanor

The Grand Jury has also indicted Gurto on 2 separate death penalty
specifications.

He is expected to be back in court later this month.

(source: Fox News)

******************************

Ohio man could face death penalty in rape, slaying of toddler



An Ohio man has been indicted in the rape and slaying of his girlfriend's
13-month-old daughter.

Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci said Thursday that Joshua Gurto
could face the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder in the Oct. 7
beating death of Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley. Gurto also faces
rape, felonious assault and domestic violence charges.

The 37-year-old was arrested Oct. 27 in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, the day
after he was spotted at a Pittsburgh convenience store.

A coroner has said Seriniti died from blunt force trauma to her head and body.
She died at a local hospital after being found unconscious in Conneaut,
northeast of Cleveland.

Iarocci says Gurto was brought to the Ashtabula County Jail on Thursday from
Allegheny County.

It's unclear whether Gurto has an attorney.

(source: Associated Press)

************************

Attorneys for Golsby seek to throw out death penalty specifications



The attorneys for Brian Golsby are asking the judge overseeing his case to
throw out the death penalty specifications in his indictment.

Golsby is the man accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering Ohio State
student Reagan Tokes, last February.

According to a motion filed on October 31, defense attorneys cite a report by
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Frank Baumgartner to
argue race is a factor when the state determines who is eligible for the death
penalty.

It reads in part:

"Indeed, 65 % of all executions carried out in Ohio between 1976 and 2014 were
for crimes involving White victims despite the fact that 43% of all homicide
victims are White."

The defense also argues Prosecutor Ron O'Brien seeks the death penalty against
more African American defendants than white ones.

As the motion states:

"Such grave disparity in the most serious of cases cannot be tolerated by a
criminal justice system that strives for even the appearance of fairness and
equality."

Golsby's attorneys, who also filed a motion to have the evidence collected from
the defendant's ankle monitor suppressed, declined to comment.

O'Brien issued the following statement:

"We have 14 days under court rule to respond to any defense motion in a
criminal case and are in the process of preparing a response to both motions
recently filed in the Golsby case, including the allegation that the death
penalty is being sought on a discriminatory basis. Both the facts and the law
do not reflect discrimination in those cases in which a death penalty
indictment was filed in Franklin County."

Golsby's trial is scheduled to begin in February.

(source: WCMH news)








MISSOURI:

Prosecutors seek death penalty against principal accused of murder



St. Louis prosecutors on Thursday said they are seeking the death penalty
against a principal accused of hiring a hit man to kill his pregnant
girlfriend, a teacher. The alleged hit man, Phillip Cutler, is also facing the
death penalty.

Cornelius Green is charged with 2 counts 1st-degree murder. He allegedly hired
a childhood friend, Phillip J. Cutler, of Oklahoma, to kill Jocelyn Peters, 30.

Prosecutors allege the murder was "outrageously vile, horrible or inhuman in
that involved torture or depravity of mind."

"What we have here is an apparent murder for hire," said Jennifer Joyce, former
St. Louis Circuit Attorney in 2016. "What we do know is Mr. Green did send Mr.
Cutler through the mail $2,500 cash."

Peters was found fatally shot in her Central West End apartment in late March,
2016. She was 7 months pregnant at the time of the shooting. Peters was a
teacher at Mann Elementary in St. Louis City.

Court records sat Cutler and Green were childhood friends and Cutler was
visiting in St. Louis the week of Peter's murder. The documents also reveal
that Cutler's cell phone was near Peter's apartment the night of the murder.

Green is the former principal at Carr Lane Visual Performing Arts School. He
was arrested in August, on theft charges, for allegedly stealing $2,700 from a
student dance group at the school where he used to be a principal.

Green faces 2 counts of 1st-degree murder because the Peters' fetus was
7-months-old.

(source: KMOV news)








OKLAHOMA:

Tulsa County DA files intent to seek death penalty in 2016 gang-related
torture, slaying



The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office on Thursday announced its intent to
seek the death penalty against a man and a woman charged with beating a Tulsa
man to death in a gang-related attack and subsequently burning his body.

The case marks the 2nd time in 2 months that the DA's office has sought an
execution.

In the current case, Gerald Keith Lowe Jr., 40, and Michaela Riddle, 25, face
counts of 1st-degree murder, intimidation of a witness, kidnapping, desecration
of a human corpse and committing a gang-related offense in the Nov. 11, 2016,
death of 23-year-old Courtney Palmer.

The defendants, who were dating at the time, are accused of beating Palmer
inside a home in the 4600 block of North Boston Place during a dispute tied to
the Hoover Crips gang before taking his body to Muskogee, putting it in a
shallow grave and setting it on fire.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, in a filing Thursday, said the case merits
the death penalty because Palmer's slaying was especially atrocious, heinous
and cruel, and that the defendants are a continuing threat to society.

Lowe also has a felony conviction for an offense that involved the use or
threat of violence on another, which is listed as a 3rd aggravator against him.

Tulsa Police Department investigators found Palmer's burned body in a shallow
grave outside a dilapidated home in Muskogee on Dec. 15. An autopsy report from
the state Medical Examiner's Office says Palmer died of "homicidal violence by
multiple modalities," noting many of his facial bones and ribs were broken.

Charletha Mack, 40, is charged an accessory to Palmer's death but is ineligible
for the death penalty. Mack testified against Lowe and Riddle during a
preliminary hearing in October, describing how she observed them repeatedly
beat Palmer in her home "until he couldn???t breathe no more" and explaining
her reasons for not immediately notifying police.

Jeannetta Thomas, 19, was a co-defendant with Lowe and Riddle on the murder,
witness intimidation and kidnapping counts, but all charges against her were
dropped Monday and she is now a material witness.

Thomas testified in October that Palmer was attacked because of Lowe's and
Riddle's belief that Palmer had set up a person named "Duke," and that Palmer
repeatedly denied the accusation.

Thomas told Assistant District Attorney Isaac Shields that she saw Lowe choke
Palmer after Palmer had a blue dry cleaner's bag placed over his head, and
alleged that she saw Riddle pour a pot of boiling water on Palmer's face.

Police said Palmer reported being a witness to an altercation in which "Duke,"
later identified as his friend Carl Harris, was shot at an apartment complex
near 61st Street and Peoria Avenue.

Lead homicide detective Jason White testified that Lowe and Riddle were linked
to Palmer's burial site by using DNA collected from a sock and a vacuum cleaner
device recovered from the dilapidated home. Lowe and Riddle reportedly had sex
in the house before they removed the mattress from the bedroom, placed it over
Palmer's body and set both on fire.

A probable cause affidavit states Palmer's girlfriend told White in an
interview that Riddle said, "this is about to be some 'First 48' stuff" after
the girlfriend began crying upon seeing a news report on Palmer's
disappearance. "The First 48" is a television show that tracks the Tulsa Police
Department's Homicide Unit, among other agencies, as it works on open cases.

Lowe and Riddle are set for trial court arraignment Nov. 27 before District
Judge Sharon Holmes, but their arraignments will likely be pushed back, in part
so she can appoint attorneys with experience in death penalty cases.

Riddle's counsel, Stephen Lee and Mark Cagle, have done capital punishment work
but are expected to withdraw because they also are representing Michael
Browning, whose 2003 death sentence was overturned and who is set for a
re-trial in Tulsa next spring in a 2001 homicide.

Lowe's attorney, Brian Boeheim, has not been involved in death penalty matters
and could either withdraw or receive death penalty-qualified co-counsel via an
appointment from Holmes.

Kunzweiler said the nature of the crime merits the request.

"I do not make these decisions without giving thoughtful consideration to the
alleged facts, as well as having extensive communication with the law
enforcement officers who investigated the case," he said. "With regard to these
2 defendants, my office believes there exist aggravating circumstances which
should afford a jury the option of imposing the death penalty."

Kunzweiler also has requested the death penalty in the case of 41-year-old
Gregory Jerome Epperson, who is charged with strangling 19-year-old Kelsey
Tennant and trying to kill her boyfriend, Riley Allen, in an east Tulsa
apartment on March 20.

Epperson's case, which became a capital proceeding in September, is the 1st
such case handled in Tulsa County in nearly 5 years and the 1st for
Kunzweiler's tenure as chief prosecutor. Former District Attorney Tim Harris
had last filed a bill of particulars in January 2013 against Jacob England and
Alvin Watts, who were accused of murder in 3 shootings on Good Friday in 2012
that prosecutors said was a hate crime against black people.

The last death penalty trial in Harris' administration culminated in a jury
recommending in early 2014 that Darren Price serve 2 life without parole
sentences for his role in the September 2011 Hicks Park homicides. Price was 19
at the time of his arrest, which prosecutors said then may have been a factor
in why he did not receive a death sentence.

If the cases against Epperson, Lowe and Riddle go to trial and end in
recommendations of death, they would be the first defendants from Tulsa County
to face lethal injection since Raymond Johnson, who was sentenced in 2009 to
die by lethal injection for killing a woman and her baby in 2007.

Oklahoma has not put anyone to death since the lethal injection of Charles
Warner in January 2015, which was later found to have had a drug not listed to
the Oklahoma Department of Corrections' lethal injection protocol. Richard
Glossip received a last-minute stay in September 2015 after Gov. Mary Fallin
learned DOC staff obtained for Glossip the same drug that was incorrectly used
in Warner's execution.

The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office issued a stay of all scheduled
executions pending the DOC's release of an updated protocol, after which it
said it will wait at least 150 days before placing anyone on schedule to die.
The DOC, according to its Oct. 31 status report, has not said it is ready to
resume with executions.

(source: Tulsa World)

**********************

Prosecutors seeking death penalty for murder defendant accused of fatally
shooting Tecumseh police officer



Wounded Tecumseh police officer Justin Terney feared he was dying in the
moments after a shootout late March 26.

"Stay with us. Help is coming," Lt. Mike Mallinson told his wounded colleague,
according to testimony Thursday. The lieutenant explained to a judge he was
trying to keep Terney awake.

"Mike, I think I'm going out," Terney replied, according to the testimony.
Terney, 22, died the next day at a hospital.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing Thursday for murder defendants
Byron James Shepard, 36, and Brooklyn Danielle Williams, 23.

Prosecutors announced Thursday they are seeking the death penalty against
Shepard, who is accused of fatally shooting Terney in the abdomen and leg.
Prosecutors allege Shepard is a "continuing threat to society."

Shepard, of Okemah, is charged with 1st-degree murder. Williams, of Tecumseh,
is charged with 2nd-degree murder. At the hearing's conclusion, Pottawatomie
County Special Judge David Cawthon found there was enough evidence to send
their cases to trial.

Terney pulled over a vehicle driven by Williams late March 26 in Tecumseh.
Shepard was riding in the car with Williams, his girlfriend, investigators
reported.

Shepard fled when the officer discovered he had an outstanding arrest warrant
for concealing stolen property, according to investigators. A brief foot chase
and the shootout followed, investigators said.

Mallinson testified he responded to the traffic stop to assist Terney after it
appeared Shepard had given a false name. Before Mallinson could exit his
vehicle, Shepard fled on foot, according to his testimony.

Mallinson said Shepard ran into a wooded area and Terney chased after him. The
lieutenant said he heard Terney deploy his Taser twice during the foot chase.

Mallinson told the judge he then heard gunshots. He said he found Terney and
Shepard both lying on the ground wounded.

"The defendant continued to scream and I told him to shut up," Mallinson
testified.

Investigators reported Terney shot Shepard in the arm, chest and groin. Shepard
was treated at a hospital and later taken to jail.

Prosecutors allege Williams knew Shepard had an active arrest warrant and was
"harboring" him before the fatal shooting. Law enforcement officers had
previously warned her that she would be in trouble if she was caught with
Shepard, according to investigators.

Text messages between the 2 defendants also were put into evidence Thursday,
some referencing them not wanting Shepard to go back to jail. Prosecutors said
one message sent by Shepard alluded to him wanting to "take out 4 or 5"
officers.

Shepard also is charged with offenses related to methamphetamine and concealing
property.

Both defendants appeared in court Thursday in handcuffs and wearing orange
uniforms.

(source: The Oklahoman)








NEBRASKA:

NDCS says it has drugs to execute inmates on death row----A year after Nebraska
voters brought the death penalty back, the state says it now has the drugs to
enforce it.



A year after Nebraska voters brought the death penalty back, the state says it
now has the drugs to enforce it.

"We revised the protocols earlier this year to be the most effective, to comply
with state law," Gov. Pete Ricketts said.

Ricketts was part of the protocol changes in January, which made the capital
punishment process more public.

First on death row is Jose Sandoval, who was convicted for murdering 3 people
in the 2002 Norfolk Bank Robbery.

Corrections Director Scott Frakes explained Nebraska's new execution protocol
in a letter to Sandoval, listing the 4 drugs that will be used to kill him.

The process starts with diazepam, an anti-anxiety drug.

? "It causes the body, in large amounts, to go into respiratory depression and
shuts down the respiration of the body," said pharmacist Jim Quinley.

The 2nd drug used is fentanyl citrate and the 3rd is cisatracurium besylate,
which Quinley said is a skeletal muscle relaxant.

"In large quantities it would shut down your skeletal structure, all your
muscles and you can't move," Quinley said. "Including your respiratory
muscles."

The final drug in the list of 4 to be used for executions is potassium
chloride.

"Potassium chloride is a natural mineral that the body needs, but in large
amounts it will put the heart, the cardiac system in afib and cause the heart
to stop," Quinley said.

Quinley said the 4 drugs are legal, prescription drugs.

"In smaller doses they're used for therapeutic reasons," Quinley said. "In
larger doses they can kill."

Ricketts said Nebraska bought the drugs in the U.S., but would not specify
where in compliance with state law.

"We're not disclosing that," Ricketts said. "I'd refer you to the attorney
general."

Neither the attorney general nor the department of corrections would answer
that question Thursday, or any of KETV Newswatch 7's questions.

Death penalty opponents like Matt Maly said Nebraskans deserve an explanation.

"It's a very scary thing and to me, this just exemplifies how broken the system
is," said Maly, operations coordinator for the Nebraskans for Alternatives to
the Death Penalty organization. "You've got a state department putting out a
release saying, 'Hey, we've got these drugs. Were not saying where they came
from.'"

Maly said his organization also worries about botched executions and that
Nebraska's use of this 4-drug cocktail is experimenting.

"Nebraska does have a history of purchasing bad lethal injection drugs from
unauthorized suppliers, so it's very important that we know where these drugs
came from, who made them," Maly said.

Ricketts said 3 of the drugs Nebraska plans to use are currently a part of
Nevada's execution protocol.

Maly said his group or another will likely file a lawsuit to learn where
Nebraska bought the drugs.

As for the Sandoval case, the attorney general's office must wait 60 days to
request an execution warrant from the Nebraska Supreme Court. That must happen
before a date for Sandoval's execution is set.

(source: KETV news)

***************

Nebraska moving forward with execution plans for Norfolk killer Jose Sandoval



Nebraska's attorney general has chosen Norfolk killer Jose Sandoval as the next
condemned prisoner to die, after a 20-year hiatus in executions in this state.

No request to the Nebraska Supreme Court for an execution warrant has been
made, but Corrections Director Scott Frakes served notice to Sandoval on
Thursday of the lethal injection drugs that would be administered to cause his
death if an execution takes place.

That combination of drugs chosen has never been used in an execution.

State regulations require the prisons chief to notify condemned inmates 60 days
prior to the attorney general requesting an execution warrant.

Attorney General Doug Peterson said he is prepared to request the Supreme Court
issue Sandoval's execution warrant after at least 60 days have elapsed from the
notice.

Corrections officials have chosen a new protocol for administering lethal
injection drugs and have purchased diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracuriam
besylate and potassium chloride.

The drugs were purchased in the United States and received into the
department's inventory Oct. 10, said Dawn-Renee Smith, spokeswoman for the
Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

She would not name the company or suppliers from which they were purchased, or
say whether the supplier was local or a compounding company. The Journal Star
is pursuing the answers to those and other questions.

Nevada has a similar drug protocol, but uses 3 drugs: fentanyl, diazepam and
cisatracurium. That protocol is in question after a judge said Wednesday she
may cut a paralytic (cisatracurium) from the state's previously untried lethal
injection plan, after hearing that it could mask movements reflecting awareness
and pain, according to The Associated Press.

The Nebraska department has tested its drugs for quality, according to a
Corrections news release.

Sandoval, 38, is housed on death row at the Tecumseh State Correctional
Institution. He was convicted and sentenced to death 13 years ago for killing 5
people at the U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk in September 2002.

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, a longtime opponent of the death penalty, said in
spite of the notice he doubted an execution was going to be carried out any
time soon.

He and others need to know where the drugs came from, and whether there was a
private compounding company manufacturing them, he said.

Other issues that have to be resolved, he said, include whether or not this
combination of drugs has been used anywhere else, even though that would not
bind Nebraska; whether or not the combination of drugs would be effective in
accomplishing an execution; and whether they were designed to be used to take
someone's life.

The Associated Press reported in April that a German pharmaceutical company
spokesman said the potassium chloride the Nebraska Corrections Department had
purchased in 2015 was not intended to be sold to a state corrections
department. A distributor had tried unsuccessfully to get the department to
return the drugs.

The fact that the department is withholding certain information, Chambers said,
indicates it is not fully transparent and may feel there are weaknesses in what
it is doing.

Chambers charged that the notice of intended execution drugs is timed to
coincide with Gov. Pete Ricketts re-election campaign.

Ricketts responded, saying: "Last year the people of Nebraska reaffirmed that
the death penalty remains an important part of protecting public safety in our
state."

Thursday's announcement is the next step to carrying out the sentences ordered
by the court, he said.

ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad said the organization was
"horrified" that the department planned to use Sandoval as a "test subject for
an untested and experimental lethal injection cocktail."

"This rash decision will not fix the problems with Nebraska's broken death
penalty and are a distraction from the real issues impacting Nebraska's
Department of Corrections: an overcrowded, crisis-riddled system," she said.

America is a nation turning away from the death penalty, Conrad said, with more
and more states seeing that ending capital punishment means improving public
safety. Fiscal conservatives, faith leaders and public safety officials are
increasingly leading efforts to replace the death penalty.

"The ACLU will continue to discuss the state's misguided plan with experts
locally and nationally and evaluate the grave constitutional, legal and policy
questions associated with this untested protocol," she said.

The attorney general said in a statement he agrees with the notice that was
given to Sandoval.

"Sandoval planned the Sept. 26, 2002, Norfolk bank robbery when, in less than a
minute, 5 innocent people were brutally shot and killed," Peterson said in a
news release.

The dead included bank employees and customers. Sandoval personally killed 3
people, 2 more people were killed, and 3 more were in the midst of the gunfire
that day. Sandoval's crimes were captured on video.

The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld Sandoval's convictions and death sentence.
The U.S. Supreme Court then denied further review of the sentence. Sandoval
never filed any challenges to the Supreme Court decisions, Peterson said.

The last execution in Nebraska was Robert Williams in December 1997. It was
carried out using the electric chair.

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)

****************

Nebraska to use 4 drugs never tried together in an execution



Nebraska's corrections department took a key step Thursday to prepare for the
state's 1st execution since 1997, unveiling a new combination of lethal
injection drugs that no state has ever used on an inmate before.

The state Department of Correctional Services notified death-row inmate Jose
Sandoval of the lethal injection drugs to be used in his execution, although no
date has been set.

State officials are required to notify an inmate of the drugs to be used at
least 60 days before Nebraska's attorney general asks the state Supreme Court
for an execution warrant. A spokeswoman for the attorney general said state
attorneys plan to seek the warrant after the waiting period has ended.

The announcement came almost 1 year to the day after Nebraska voters reinstated
capital punishment, overriding state lawmakers who had abolished the death
penalty in defiance of Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

"Last year, the people of Nebraska reaffirmed that the death penalty remains an
important part of protecting public safety in our state," Ricketts said in a
written statement. "Today's announcement by the corrections department is the
next step towards carrying out the sentences ordered by the court."

A corrections department spokeswoman said the state intends to use the sedative
diazepam, commonly known as Valium; the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl
citrate; the paralytic cisatracurium; and potassium chloride to induce death.

The department has access to all 4 drugs, and all were purchased in United
States, said correctional services spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith. Smith,
responding to questions by email, did not say how the drugs were obtained or
who provided them.

Nevada officials have been pushing to use 3 of those drugs in a scheduled
execution on Tuesday. On Thursday, a Nevada state court judge ordered state
officials not to use the paralytic cisatracurium. Federal public defenders
argued that the paralytic could prevent observers from seeing if the condemnded
inmate suffers during his death. Nevada officials also plan to use diazepam and
fentanyl.

Sandoval, 38, was sentenced to death on 5 counts of 1st-degree murder for the
September 2002 deaths of five people in a bank robbery in Norfolk, a city of
24,000 about 110 miles northwest of Omaha. It's unclear whether he has an
attorney. The Norfolk lawyer who handled his most recent appeals did not
immediate respond to a phone message.

"He has to be given some sort of opportunity to challenge it," said Jeffery
Pickens, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy,
which has represented other death-row inmates. The commission cannot represent
Sandoval because it defended some of the other men convicted in the crime, so
it has a conflict.

Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers, a longtime death penalty opponent who
sponsored the repeal law in 2015, said he believes the execution announcement
was politically motivated.

Ricketts vetoed the death penalty repeal measure during his 1st year in office,
and suffered a political blow when lawmakers overrode him. The former TD
Ameritrade executive also helped bankroll the petition drive to place the issue
on the November 2016 ballot with $300,000 of his own money. Nebraska voters
reinstated the death penalty. Ricketts is up for re-election in 2018.

"They're a good long ways from being able to carry out an execution," Chambers
said. "But I think the timing is suspicious."

Chambers predicted that attorneys for Sandoval would "tear into" the state's
plan and create more delays. Nebraska's last execution was in 1997, using the
electric chair. The state has never carried out an execution with lethal
injection drugs.

Ricketts did not address Chambers' criticism in his statement.

State officials chose a combination of drugs that has never been used before in
an execution, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty
Information Center, a national group that has questioned the way executions are
performed.

Dunham said the use of a paralytic could effectively hide any pain an inmate
experiences during the execution, thus obscuring whether the execution was
carried out without causing unconstitutional pain and suffering.

"It's literally human experimentation, because no one has done it," Dunham
said. "That doesn't necessarily mean it won't work, but it means there are
serious questions about it."

Potassium chloride has been used in other executions to stop an inmate's heart,
but it also caused severe chemical burns during a botched execution in Florida
in 2014, Dunham said.

(source: Associated Press)
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