2017-10-13 12:55:43 UTC
Texas Inmate Executed for Prison Guard's Death
A Texas inmate convicted in the death of a prison guard was put to death
Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his lawyer's attempts to halt
Robert Pruett was given a lethal injection for the December 1999 death of
corrections officer Daniel Nagle at a prison southeast of San Antonio. Nagle
was repeatedly stabbed with a tape-wrapped metal rod, though an autopsy showed
he died from a heart attack that the assault caused.
Prosecutors have said the attack stemmed from a dispute over a peanut butter
sandwich that Pruett wanted to take into a recreation yard against prison
The 38-year-old Pruett, who was already serving a 99-year sentence for a
neighbor's killing near Houston when he was convicted in Nagle's death, lost 2
appeals at the Supreme Court as his execution neared. He became the 20th
prisoner put to death this year in the U.S. and the 6th in Texas, which carries
out the death penalty more than any other state. Texas executed 7 inmates last
Pruett's lawyers had asked the high court to review whether lower courts
properly denied a federal civil rights lawsuit that sought additional DNA
testing in his case. They also questioned whether a prisoner like Pruett, who
claimed actual innocence in federal court because of newly discovered evidence
after exhausting all other appeals, could be put to death.
Pruett avoided execution in April 2015, hours before he could have been taken
to the death chamber, when a state judge halted his punishment so additional
DNA testing could be conducted on the rod used to stab the 37-year-old Nagle.
The new tests showed no DNA on the tape but uncovered DNA on the rod from an
unknown female who authorities said likely handled the shank during the appeals
process after the original tests in 2002.
Pruett's attorneys unsuccessfully sought more DNA testing and filed a federal
civil rights lawsuit arguing Pruett had been denied due process. The 5th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit last week, and the lawyers
appealed to the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Attorneys for Texas told the Supreme Court that Pruett's appeals were delay
tactics after issues were "repeatedly raised" and "properly rejected" by the
No physical evidence tied Pruett to Nagle's death at the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice's McConnell Unit near Beeville. At his 2002 trial, prisoners
testified that they saw Pruett attack Nagle or heard him talk about wanting to
kill the guard. According to some of the testimony, he talked about possessing
a weapon as well.
Pruett had said he was framed and that Nagle could have been killed by other
inmates or corrupt officers at the McConnell Unit.
Pruett's 99-year murder sentence was for participating with his father and a
brother in the 1995 stabbing death of a 29-year-old neighbor, Raymond
Yarbrough, at the man's trailer home in Channelview, just east of Houston.
Pruett was 15 when the attack happened.
According to court testimony from a sheriff's detective, Pruett argued with
Yarbrough and then got his father and brother to join him in attacking the man.
Pruett punched and kicked Yarbrough and held him down while his father stabbed
the man multiple times, the detective said.
Pruett's father, Howard Pruett, is serving life in prison. His brother, Howard
Pruett Jr., was sentenced to 40 years.
Executions under Greg Abbott, Jan. 21, 2015-present----25
Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982----present-----544
Abbott#--------scheduled execution date-----name------------Tx. #
26---------Oct. 18-----------------Anthony Shore----------545
27---------Oct. 26-----------------Clinton Young----------546
28---------Nov. 8------------------Ruben Cardenas-------547
29---------Nov. 16-----------------Larry Swearingen-----548
30--------Dec. 14-----------------Juan Castillo-----------549
31--------Jan. 30-----------------William Rayford--------550
(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)
MEXICAN NATIONAL FACING EXECUTION IN TEXAS
Ruben Cardenas Ramirez, a 47-year-old Mexican national denied his consular
rights, is due to be executed in Texas on 8 November in violation of
international law. Convicted in 1998 of a murder in 1997, he maintains his
innocence and is seeking new DNA testing.
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
* Calling for the execution of Ruben Cardenas Ramirez, inmate #999275, to be
stopped and his death sentence commuted;
* Stating that the execution would violate international law and an order of
the International Court of Justice;
* Expressing concern that Ruben Cardenas Ramerez was denied his consular rights
and not provided a lawyer until 11 days after his initial arrest and a week
after being charged;
* Noting that the conviction was based upon highly suspect confession, DNA and
* Pointing out the irrevocability of execution, and noting that the prisoner is
seeking to have modern DNA testing of evidence from the crime, and calling for
a reprieve to allow for testing that could exonerate him.
Friendly reminder: If you send an email, please create your own instead of
forwarding this one!
Contact these 2 officials by 8 November, 2017:
Clemency Section, Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78757-6814
Fax: +1 512 467 0945
(source: Amnesty International USA)
Death penalty decision for man accused of killing UNCC professor delayed
The man accused of killing a beloved UNC Charlotte psychology professor faced a
Donny Franklin is accused of killing Dr. Jeannine Skinner in September. In
court Thursday, he was assigned new attorneys but the decision on whether he'll
face the death penalty was delayed.
As the case moves forward, there are still many unanswered questions.
Investigators still have not said what drove Franklin to take Skinner's life,
but police have said that the 2 had been dating.
During Franklin's 1st appearance in court last month, he showed little emotion
when the judge explained the 1st-degree murder charge for which he could face
the death penalty.
Police found Skinner's body at the Lofts Apartments in Ayrsley after a welfare
check on Sept. 1.
Detectives believe the pair had only been dating for a few weeks before the
Franklin is still being held at the Mecklenburg County Jail.
(source: WSOC TV news)
Man accused of killing priest says he'll be spared death
An ex-convict accused of killing a Florida priest who had tried to help him for
months said he has reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty and avoid
the death penalty, an outcome that would likely have pleased the priest.
Steven Murray faces charges including murder in the April 2016 shooting death
of the Rev. Rene Robert, a senior priest for the Diocese of St. Augustine in
northeast Florida. Murray told The Associated Press in a call from jail Tuesday
evening that he plans to plead guilty at an Oct. 18 hearing in exchange for a
sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"It's a lot of time, but I deserve it. Father Rene was a good man," Murray told
If the deal goes through, it would seem to be what Robert would have wanted.
The priest opposed the death penalty and signed a document years ago saying
that if he were to die violently he wouldn't want his killer executed.
Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Natalie Paine confirmed in an email
Wednesday that Murray has a hearing on Oct. 18 but said she couldn't comment on
Adam Levin, an attorney for Murray, said by email that he also couldn't
Murray, who was 28 at the time of Robert's death, was a repeat offender whom
Robert had been trying to help for months. Police said Murray asked the
71-year-old priest for a ride in Jacksonville, Florida, and then kidnapped him
and killed him in Georgia. Murray was arrested in Aiken, South Carolina, after
a multistate manhunt, and he led police to Robert's body in the woods near
The motive for the killing isn't entirely clear.
Murray told the St. Augustine Record for a story published in July 2016 that he
had Robert in the trunk of the car in South Carolina and realized he could get
in big trouble if Robert ever reported him.
"I just (expletive) freaked out and I killed him," Murray told the newspaper in
an interview from jail.
Speaking more generally, Murray has told AP that he suffers from mental health
issues and wanted to cause pain because of hurt he had suffered in his life.
Authorities have said Murray has twice attempted to kill himself in jail since
Murray expressed both sorrow and defiance in public statements as he was taken
from the courthouse after hearings last year. In postcards and calls to AP from
jail, he has repeatedly said he cries over Robert's death and that he is sorry.
"My apologies go out to the family and friends of Father Rene," he said
Tuesday. "I hope with time they can get some closure."
Murray has said that his father abused him badly while he was growing up in
South Carolina. His sister, Bobbie Jean Murray, told AP that the abuse led
Murray to drugs and crime at an early age.
He met Robert through a girlfriend, Ashley Shreve. The couple did drugs
together, and Robert often gave them money, against their families' wishes.
Robert's colleagues have said he was devoted to helping the poor, often
scraping leftovers from plates into baggies to give to the homeless. He also
had great compassion for addicts, sometimes going so far as to lend them his
car while he walked home alone through dangerous neighborhoods.
Because he devoted his life to helping society's most troubled, he was also
aware that he could become a victim of violence. More than 2 decades before his
death, he signed a "Declaration of Life," calling for his killer to be spared
execution in the event of his murder.
That did not sway prosecutors, who have said their decision to seek the death
penalty was based on the aggravated nature of the slaying.
(source: Fox News)
Prosecuters still seek death penalty in retrial of Jabil executive
A 911 call captured the final moments of Elizabeth Evans and Gerald Taylor
before they were shot to death on Dec. 20, 2008.
Someone told them to sit on a bed. They begged the intruder to put the gun
down. And before shots rang out, Elizabeth Evans said the word "Rick."
That name, said Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorney Christopher LaBruzzo,
is how Elizabeth Evans referred to her husband, Patrick Evans. He is charged
with the murders of his wife and her friend.
"There's only one verdict in this case," LaBruzzo told the jury Thursday during
opening statements in Evans' trial. "That's a verdict of guilty."
Evans, a former Jabil vice president, was convicted and sentenced to death for
the murders in 2012. But in 2015, the Florida Supreme Court overturned his
convictions, citing errors in a detective's testimony and criticizing a
prosecutor's remarks during the first trial.
Prosecutors are still seeking the death penalty.
LaBruzzo told the 12-member jury, plus 2 alternates, about the Evanses'
They were married in 2005 and were together for 3 years until they separated in
2008. Evans filed for divorce, but later dismissed his petition. Elizabeth
Evans, 44, had also filed to end their marriage and moved into a condo at 6080
Gulfport Blvd. S in Gulfport.
On Dec. 20, 2008, she was playing golf with a co-worker, the 43-year-old
Taylor. They went back to her place to drink wine and play music. Later that
day, LaBruzzo said, Evans showed up and confronted them inside her bedroom.
Someone dialed 911, but hung up. When a dispatcher called back, the call was
picked up and recorded the seconds before Elizabeth Evans and Taylor died.
Prosecutors will also present other evidence. A neighbor walking his dog saw
Evans outside moments before the 911 call. Evans' gun holster was also found at
the scene. Shell casings left in Elizabeth Evans' bedroom, LaBruzzo said,
matched Evans' Glock handgun, which detectives found in his safe. People who
knew the Evanses will also take the stand to identify the voices on the
While LaBruzzo described the Evanses as "estranged," Assistant Public Defender
Paige Parish said the couple was "amicably separated." Elizabeth Evans still
spent time with her stepson. The Evanses had also seen each other shortly
before the shooting, getting their cars washed together and meeting with a
Realtor to discuss the sale of a property.
Parish also pointed to holes in the investigation, which she said was squarely
focused on only Evans. Detectives never questioned Elizabeth Evans' ex-husbands
or Taylor's wife, she added.
Investigators also found prints on Elizabeth Evans' back door and DNA on the
gun holster that was never identified.
"The most amazing thing about the American criminal justice system is that we
don't get to tell you what the answer is," Parish told the jury. "You get to
The 911 recording was at the crux of Evans' appeal. In a 2015 opinion by the
Florida Supreme Court, justices questioned Pinellas sheriff's Detective Edward
Judy's testimony. On the stand, Judy said he believed the voice of the intruder
was Evans because he had listened to his jail phone calls several times and was
familiar with Evans' voice. The court ruled that Judy "did not have prior
familiarity with Evans or special training in voice recognition."
The justices also flagged former Assistant State Attorney William Loughery.
They took issue with some of his comments, including Loughery's remarks about
the defense's theory, at one point saying "only in a world populated by defense
attorneys would that be true."
Prosecutors are still seeking the death penalty. In Evans' first trial, jurors
voted 9-3 in favor of the death penalty for the murder of Elizabeth Evans and
8-4 for the murder of Taylor.
But under the state's new death penalty law, juries must vote unanimously to
send someone to death row.
The trial resumes today.
Aramis Ayala moving on after losing death penalty battle
E8 months after she lit statewide firestorm debates over the death penalty and
Florida government separation of powers, and five weeks after she lost those
debates in the Florida Supreme Court, Orlando's State Attorney Aramis Ayala
appears at peace.
Speaking with a gathering of journalists Thursday morning, the controversial,
still-new state attorney for Florida???s 9th Judicial Circuit, covering Orange
and Osceola counties, said she was settling in to pursue her judicial reform
agenda, she was pursuing justice, and she was happy.
"I enjoy my office. I enjoy life. Generally, I'm just a happy person. I don't
say that lightly. I enjoy doing what is right," Ayala said.
Ayala talked Thursday morning at a meeting of the Central Florida chapter of
the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She took questions
challenging her now-abandoned opposition in her circuit to death penalty
prosecutions, yet largely dismissed any political or personal concerns about
where that came from or how much it cost.
If she had any regrets about the consternation her previous position or her
6-month battle with Gov. Rick Scott and others had caused for anyone, including
the families of murder victims, she wasn't sharing them. Over cafe con leche at
the Melao Bakery in Orlando.
Ayala, who was elected last year, presented herself as a public official who
took a stand based on her interpretation of the law, lost, and has since moved
on. She characterized the debate as something that had to happen, it did, and
now it's over.
"I had an interesting start," she said. "The day I took office we were dealing
with the death penalty. And unfortunately, a lot of people only know me for
that. But there certainly is more to me as a person, as a lawyer, as prosecutor
that deals with that," Ayala said. "But when I took office, the first
conversations I had with prosecutors across the state was dealing with the
death penalty. We had a statute that had been ruled unconstitutional 2 times in
less than 2 years, so we knew there was a problem. That was the 1st week of me
taking office. Then we had the deaths locally of 2 police officers that we had
to deal with. We had internal issues with employees, and ultimately we had
retaliatory budget cuts."
Ayala said she supposed her contentedness came from being a cancer survivor,
someone who nearly died from lymphoma as a young woman in law school, and then
struggled with avascular necrosis. She said that life experience also taught
her "the level of accountability. It teaches you that one day we all have to
answer and respond to the right that we lived. And I've committed to that."
On Thursday she sought to turn the focus to initiatives she campaigned on - as
opposed to the death penalty, which she did not. Those include creation of
aggressive teams of prosecutors to deal with domestic violence and human
trafficking. Ayala said that she has gotten those promised units up, operating
and prosecuting, and getting convictions, despite state budget cuts of $1.3
million for her office, which for all practical purposes eliminated previous
domestic violence money, forcing her to redirect funds from elsewhere.
"I'm ... looking at the numbers of homicides in our community that are based
upon domestic violence," she said. "I look at the younger the girls are
getting, the more they're being impacted by domestic violence. I'm looking at
how domestic violence can tear up an entire community. And we get a lot of it."
She said her office also moved forward with other reforms, notably a program in
which prosecutors get involved with communities, and her juvenile justice
"Project No No," creating new opportunities for young offenders to go through
diversion programs without getting criminal records. She said she has recently
hired 20 new assistant prosecutors fresh out of law school.
Ex-death row inmate, priest share story of life----Pair address Perrysburg
U.S. Army veteran Joe D'Ambrosio was in custody for 22 years for a crime he did
not commit, with most of that -- more than 20 years -- spent on Ohio's death
He was finally exonerated from the murder conviction and freed in 2012
following the intervention and dedication of the Rev. Neil Kookoothe, a Roman
Catholic priest who was introduced to D'Ambrosio by chance but was the catalyst
to get the conviction overturned.
The 2 men spoke at St. Rose Catholic Church on Sunday night, sharing their
story with about 100 people. It's a story rooted in faith and bizarre
circumstances. The 2 men told of the details of information withheld and hidden
from D'Ambrosio's attorney in his trial, which lasted less than 3 days -- the
shortest death penalty court case in the history of Ohio.
Both Kookoothe and D'Ambrosio shared numerous details about the withheld
information. If it wasn't true, the details, including how the priest came to
become involved with the death row inmate, would be totally unbelievable.
"I'm sitting there at the trial and I have no clue about what was going on,"
The priest was visiting D'Ambrosio's next-door cellmate, who asked the priest
to visit his neighbor. When D'Ambrosio's mother died, Kookoothe recognized the
name and went and concelebrated at her funeral as a representative of the
prisoner. On his next visit, he sought and was granted permission to visit and
relate the details of the funeral that the death row prisoner was not permitted
D'Ambrosio was grateful for the priest's willingness to share the information
about the funeral, but also was relentless in telling his story. He said that
his court-appointed attorney was not effective at all.
"I was expecting that my attorney would be like Perry Mason, but he was more
like Barney Fife," he said. "No one wants to listen to a dead man walking. It
was the worst low you can feel. I'm screaming and no one listens."
When the death row prisoner finally got the ear of the priest, he made sure
that Kookoothe listened. As it turns out, Kookoothe also previously served as
an attorney and a registered nurse. The latter 2 career experiences were
helpful in triggering his interest in the case.
"He's trying to tell me about my mother's funeral and I'm telling him they're
going to murder me and send me where she is. When I told him about the
extremely short trial, the attorney in him clicked in," the former inmate
Kookoothe recalls reading the first transcript, and through his nursing
training, discovered medical impossibilities in the transcript of the murder
victim's death. He wondered if that one glaring error that was found in his
first glance was an indicator of how many other errors there might be. He
It took more than 10 years and a countless volume of legal wrangling before the
exoneration finally came.
The priest noted had the jury had all the information they had to fight to
receive, that "any reasonable juror would have to acquit," Kookoothe said.
D'Ambrosio recalled that 80 % of what exonerated him were the withheld files of
the prosecutor, police chief and the coroner -- all files that should have been
surrendered prior to the 1st trial.
Through the investigations, both men believe the real killer was a convicted
rapist who would have a strong motive to keep the murder victim from testifying
against him. Screams were heard from the rapist's home and the murder victim's
body was believed to have been seen in the back of a pickup the following day.
There was also missing evidence of a trusted police informant telling the
police they had the wrong man.
A CNN documentary on the case can be accessed as well as a YouTube video
providing more information on the case.
Once released, things were still tough for D'Ambrosio; however, Kookoothe hired
him to work at his church in the Cleveland suburbs.
"I am one of the lucky ones," the released man said, noting only 6 death row
prisoners have been exonerated in Ohio. "His church has shown me more
unconditional love than I have ever experienced in my life."
There is no doubt in either man's mind that God's hand was involved.
Kookoothe's knowledge of nursing, the law and being a priest all contributed to
D'Ambrosio's conviction being overturned. His "chance" meeting withheld
prisoner, and D'Ambrosio's mother's untimely death contributed to putting all
the pieces in place.
Kim Mendel of Waterville was among those in attendance and said, "This talk
proves there are miracles."
She called it a very "moving and sobering" presentation.
Lisa Connell of Perrysburg and a St. Rose parishioner added, "It really shows
how there can be a lot of questionable actions of police and the prosecutors
and evidence missing or withheld. It makes you want to question those people
you want to trust."
Alva Campbell's lawyers plead for leniency from death penalty, say he is too
It was 20 years ago when a citywide manhunt captured a man who kidnapped and
killed a teenager. On Thursday his defense team pleaded with the state not to
Alva Campbell, 69, has been on death row for nearly 2 decades and is scheduled
for a lethal injection next month for killing Charlie Dials, 19.
NBC4 spent the day at Campbell's clemency hearing at the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction parole board hearing.
A picture of Alva Campbell recently taken in prison shows him frail and using a
walker. Campbell was in the Chillicothe Correctional Institute, where his
attorney claims he suffers from prostate cancer, COPD, emphysema and other
His defense team at the parole board hearing claims the state failed him all
along, through an abusive childhood, and in both foster care and his first
stint in prison. They spen the day using several experts and former attorneys
asking the parole board not to recommend the death penalty.
"By the time he was 10 he was broken, and he is broken and he is not going to
be repaired, and he shouldn't be out, but he shouldn't be executed either,"
said William Mooney, who was part of Campbell's defense team in 1997.
A member of the 12-person parole board asked Campbell's defense team when it
became Campbell's responsibility to seek help for his abuse in the decades
before he murdered Dials.
Charlie Dials' family, who were in attendance, nodded in agreement.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien prosecuted Campbell.
"He deserves no mercy! He shot a highway patrolman at 16, he later shot and
killed a bar owner in Cleveland in an armed robbery. He committed 7 armed
robberies here in Columbus,"said O'Brien.
Then in 1997, Campbell killed a Columbus teenager.
"While faking he was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, escaped on his way
to court, carjacked Charlie Dials, then murdered him," O'Brien said.
Bill Mooney was his defense attorney back then calling Campbell's abuses a
contributing factor in the crimes he committed.
"Why won't he have a difficulty in the day-to-day vagaries of life, given the
way life treated him?" said Mooney.
The parole board will sent their recommendation to Gov. Kasich on Oct. 20th and
he will decide if Campbell gets a lethal injection or life in prison,
(source: WCMH news)
Death Penalty Ban For People With Mental Illness
Indiana lawmakers Wednesday studied the potential of a move to prohibit the
death penalty in cases where a defendant has a serious mental illness.
The majority of people who testified at a study committee hearing - including
mental health advocates, public defenders, and the Catholic Church - favor a
death penalty ban for people who diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar
disorder, or traumatic brain injuries.
Many say the state could also save money eliminating these death penalty cases.
Defendants found guilty would instead face life in prison. Only a handful of
states have such bans.
The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council opposes such a move. Prosecutors say
serious mental illness is already considered in death penalty cases and can be
a mitigating factor.
(source: WBOI news)
McGinn to talk about death penalty's costs
State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, will speak on the costs associated with
having a state death penalty at the Kansas Coalition Against the Death
Penalty's Annual Abolition Conference and Annual Meeting.
The event will start at 1 p.m. Oct. 21 at Church of the Brethren, McPherson.
The conference is free and open to the public. On-site registration will start
at 12:30 p.m.
Celeste Dixon, whose mother was a victim of murder, and Roger Werholtz, retired
Secretary of Corrections in Kansas, also will speak at the event.
Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994. The state has not executed an
inmate since 1965.
"When resources are so scarce, I would encourage you not to throw more away on
such a wasteful policy," Werholtz said in the press release.
(soure: The Hutchinson News)
Jury recommends death penalty for Okla. man convicted of beheading co-worker
A jury recommended the death penalty Thursday for an Oklahoma man convicted of
beheading co-worker in 2014.
Alton Nolen, of Idabel, was convicted of 1st-degree murder in the September
2014 beheading of 54-year-old Colleen Hufford at Vaughan Foods in Moore.
His trial then entered the sentencing phase.
Nolen tried to plead guilty in the case prior to trial and asked to be
executed. Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley declined to accept his
(source: Associated Press)
Actor Mike Farrell Speaks Out Against the Death Penalty in Pasadena----All
Saints Church discussion marks 'World Day Against The Death Penalty'
Justice takes many faces and many forms. For some the answer to the death
penalty question is swift and sure; for others, the lines are blurred between a
respect for life and a respect for the victims.
For actor Mike Farrell, self-described "social justice advocate," it has been a
decades-long battle, as an opponent of the death penalty, and an advocate for
prison reform. Known mostly for his role as for his role as "BJ Hunnicutt" in
"M.A.S.H." and from NBC-TV's "Providence," he is the current President of the
Board of Directors of Death Penalty Focus, a spokesperson for Concern America,
an international refugee aid and development organization, among other
On Tuesday evening, he gathered with fellow opponents of the death penalty,
along with those who have have been personally affected, for a "World Day
Against The Death Penalty with Mike Farrell and Friends," at All Saints Church,
for a panel discussion about what the Church called "the harms that the death
penalty inflicts on exonerees, victims families, and our society at large."
The discussion also marked the 15th Annual "World Day Against the Death
Penalty." With the passage of Prop 66 last November, California is inching
closer to the resumption of executions.
The evening featured a sobering panel discussion with Farrell, California Crime
Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Member Bethany Webb, and death
row Exoneree Gary Tyler.
"We have determined that some human beings are not human, are not worthwhile or
capable, and that we can just do away with them," Farrell told The LA Times
last year, adding, "If you set up that belief system in a society, you can
justify torture, assassinations by drone, just about anything."
The death penalty has been in place continuously in California for almost 40
years, though executions were suspended in 2006 after the current method for
lethal injection was challenged in court. Following 40 years of a legal death
penalty in California, executions were halted in 2006, when the lethal
injection method of execution was challenged. In 2014, a federal judge ruled
the system unconstitutional, but the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned
the decision in 2016, bringing California closer to performing executions
Also participating in the panel was Gary Webb, who, in 1975, was sentenced to
death as a youth in Louisiana for a crime he didn't commit, making him the
youngest man on death row.
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to sentence
minors to life without parole and applied its decision retroactively. Offered a
plea bargain by prosecutors in order to avoid another trial, Gary agreed to
plead "guilty" to manslaughter in exchange for his freedom. Having served 41
years in prison, Gary was released from prison in April 2016. He now lives in
California and works on advocating against the death penalty and policies that
support mass incarceration.
Panelist Bethany Webb, a loan officer and real estate agent who lives in
Huntington Beach, lost her sister Laura Webb Elody in a 2011 mass shooting in
When it came time to sentence her sister's killer, Bethany told prosecutors at
a sentencing hearing, she didn't want the death penalty, saying, "There is no
justice. Murdering someone else in my sister's name would be defiling
everything she was." Says Webb, that although there is no doubt about the
perpetrator in her sister's case, she knows the death penalty leaves open the
possibility of executing innocent people.
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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