Discussion:
death penalty news----TEXAS, VA., N.C., FLA., ALA., LA.
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Rick Halperin
2017-04-09 13:56:51 UTC
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Raw Message
April 9




TEXAS:

Putt-Putt killer gets stay of execution, but 'case is far from over'


The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution Friday for a
man convicted in the 2006 murder of an assistant manager of a Putt-Putt golf
park in Hurst.

Paul Storey, 32, who was convicted in 2008 for the murder of Jonas Cherry, was
scheduled to die on Wednesday.

Storey did not immediately learn of his stay because he was in transport Friday
afternoon from Fort Worth to Huntsville. He had been in the Tarrant County Jail
for a recent hearing in connection with his case.

"The 1st thing I did is rush back to the jail but he had already been sent back
to prison to be executed," said attorney Mike Ware.

While his conviction remains in place, the court's decision will put into
motion a lengthy legal process that will eventually decide whether Storey
should live or die for his crime.

Storey's lawyers, his family and the parents of Cherry have all fought to save
Storey's life. Cory Session, a justice reform advocate who fought for the
posthumous exoneration of his convicted brother, Tim Cole, also pushed for
Storey's execution to be stayed.

"This case is far from over," Ware said. "At the time being I'm very relieved
for Paul and Marilyn and for that matter, I'm relieved for the Cherrys."

Said Marilyn Shankle-Grant, Storey's mom: "I am just elated. I am so happy. I
know now it is an indefinite stay until we get some answers from the lower
court."

Cherry begged for his life during the crime at Putt-Putt Golf and Games at a
highly visible location across Texas 121/Loop 820 from North East Mall in
Hurst.

It was about 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2006 and Storey and Mark Porter stood over
Cherry, who pleaded: "Please! I gave you what you want. Don't hurt me."

They refused and shot him twice in the head and twice in his legs and fled with
between $200 and $700. Cherry, who was approaching his 1st wedding anniversary,
was pronounced dead at the scene.

Storey and Porter were convicted of capital murder, but only Storey got the
death penalty. Porter got life without parole after making a deal with the
Tarrant County district attorney's office.

Session said Friday that the appeals court has called for another hearing at
the trial court presided over by State District Judge Robb Catalano. That
hearing will seek to determine whether defense attorneys were notified by
prosecutors during Storey's trial that Cherry's parents, Glenn and Judy Cherry,
were against the death penalty during the 2008 trial.

"Judith and Glenn Cherry did not want death for Mr. Storey," an affidavit from
the parents stated. "Unknown to the jury and contrary to the state's argument,
they stood with the family members who pleaded for the jury to spare Mr.
Storey's life."

Prosecutors, however, have said that while the Cherrys were generally opposed
to the death penalty, they were in agreement at the time of the 2008 trial that
Storey should be executed because he had refused to accept a plea bargain for
life without parole.

Christy Jack, 1 of the prosecutors who is now in private practice, recently
told the Star-Telegram that Storey's defense team was informed before the trial
about how Cherry's parents felt.

"Death penalty litigation is the most important thing that attorneys do," Jack
said. "So I want everything that I do in these cases to be above reproach."

Robert Foran, the lead prosecutor at the time of the 2008 trial, also confirmed
Jack's account.

"The defense decided not to call the parents to the stand," Foran said. "That
was a tactical decision on their part, but we told them and they damn well know
it."

(source: star-telegram.com)






VIRGINIA:

Virginia's dark legacy of secrecy about executions


The newly enhanced secrecy behind Virginia's capital punishment protocols
underscores a legacy of death born in institutionalized racism that upcoming
executions - including that of Ivan Teleguz, scheduled April 25 - do not just
prolong, but exacerbate.

In March 1879, after years of tolerating party atmospheres accompanying the
public executions of blacks, Virginia first moved to shroud its execution
process in secrecy after almost 1,000 revelers gathered after the hanging of 2
young black men at New Kent Courthouse for a grand "Gallows Ball" that lasted
until daybreak.

Afterward, a mortified General Assembly moved quickly to make hangings private,
intending to stop the festival backdrops and remove black influence and
traditions from the proceedings.

Most newspapers that year, including the April 2 Petersburg Progress-Index,
praised the new statute, reporting that "this (law) shall put an end to all
such gallows picnics and jollifications as was witnessed at New Kent
Court-house."

There is little evidence to conclude that crowds gathered to condemn the crimes
of the prisoner. On the contrary, the widespread prejudices in the judicial
process, from arrest to conviction to execution, were more likely to induce
Virginia blacks to recognize a condemned prisoner as a martyr rather than
victim, and their purpose was to share and celebrate the prisoner's future "in
the promised land."

"A negro likes nothing better than to be the central figure, be it a cake-walk
or a hanging," Virginia Penitentiary Physician Dr. Charles Carrington
disdainfully told the Medical Society of Virginia on October 25, 1910.

But the new statute had flaws. "The Gallows Ball in New Kent was such a success
that the darkies are talking about getting one up in Chesterfield ( on April
25)," reported the April 3, 1879 Alexandria Gazette. "The passage of the bill
by the Legislature prohibiting public executions ... will not prevent the
gallows ball - the new departure in colored circles."

***

The Gazette was correct in one respect - the toothless 1879 law had no effect
on limiting gatherings at primarily black hangings. Therefore in 1908, the
Assembly passed bill No. 398 - "An act to establish a permanent place in the
State Penitentiary at Richmond, VA for the execution of state felons upon whom
the death penalty has been imposed." The bill also changed the mode of death
from hanging to electrocution and became law July 1, 1908.

Like before, legislators and newspapers around the commonwealth overwhelmingly
approved of this new law, which moved executions from open-air hangings
accompanied by long speeches and parties to an electric chair in a grim
basement in front of a handful of somber white witnesses. The October 14, 1908
edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch explained that:

"The publicity, the excitement and the general hurrah-and-holiday air attending
the old-time hanging were a positive allurement to the negro. ... The electric
execution wholly does away with that. ... The whole affair is conducted with
secrecy and mystery, well calculated to inspire terror in the heart of the
superstitious African."

Since 2015 the General Assembly, the Department of Corrections, and the
governor have further acted to conceal execution procedures in even heavier
secrecy. This is not to "inspire terror in the heart of the superstitious
African" as in 1908 but to hide the processes from the media and the general
public and to shield providers from political and public blowback.

Since colonial days, Virginia has executed 1,388 persons, more than any other
state. We have shot with a firing squad (1608), gibbeted and "hung in chains'
(left on display for months, 1700), burned at the stake (1610, 1737 and 1745),
hanged, electrocuted, and drugged - and are still looking for better ways to do
it.

Virginia's current default, lethal injection, calls for the use of
pentobarbital or midazolam as a sedative to knock out the condemned prisoner,
followed by rocuronium bromide to stop respiration, then potassium chloride to
stop the heart.

Since pharmaceutical companies have taken steps to prevent states from
obtaining these drugs for capital punishment purposes, Virginia - buoyed by a
2016 law - clandestinely purchased them from an unknown compounding pharmacy
that mixes small "made-to-order" batches. It took a Freedom of Information Act
request by the Associated Press, reported December 12, to discover that
Virginia paid $66,000 for vials of midazolam and potassium chloride. The name
of the pharmacy was redacted.

The request also showed that Virginia purchased $340 worth of rocuronium
bromide from Cardinal Health, a pharmaceutical wholesaler in Ohio, without the
knowledge of the drug's manufacturer, X-GEN Pharmaceuticals. X-GEN vice
president of business strategies Jeff Granger told the AP he was "surprised and
concerned" by Cardinal's sale to Virginia.

***

Virginia has also concealed not just the drugs but the injection procedures.
Under the new protocols, witnesses no longer see the prisoner entering the
chamber, so they don't know when the execution process begins.

This is in direct defiance of the American Bar Association???s 2015 Execution
Transparency Resolution, which calls for execution processes to be disseminated
in an "open and transparent manner" and to require that those processes be
viewable by media and witnesses "from the moment the condemned prisoner enters
the execution chamber until the prisoner is declared dead" or the execution is
canceled.

While the racial makeup of Virginia's executions since a death penalty
moratorium ended in 1982 is evenly split between black and white (54 black, 54
white, 4 foreign nationals), the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review
Commission of Capital Punishment found that a person is 3 times more likely to
be sentenced to death when the victim is white than when the victim is black.

Confederate monuments and slave jails are not Virginia's only remnants of a
racist past. Virginia's capital punishment process and the secrecy surrounding
the death penalty are still mired in Jim Crow, and a reliance on such
regressive secrecy, with the nodding approval of a consenting governor,
stubbornly prolongs that racist legacy - a legacy that, unlike people, needs to
be put to death.

(source: Dale Brumfield, richmond.com)

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

tics Racially charged rape case leads to execution of 'Martinsville
Seven'-----A rape in 1949 led to 7 men being executed in Martinsville, Va.


As the sun set on an unusually mild Saturday in January 1949, a housewife named
Ruby Floyd crossed Highway 58, the racial Rubicon of Martinsville, Va., to
collect a $6 debt.

Floyd, a 32-year-old white woman, was a familiar face in the black Cherry Town
neighborhood. A Jehovah's Witness, she was known as the Watchtower Lady for her
threshold evangelism there.

She also peddled used clothing - the origin of her debt-collection errand.
Charlie Martin, an 11-year-old black boy, agreed to accompany Floyd to the home
of her customer.

Along the way, they asked directions from 4 young men lazing along railroad
tracks, passing around bottles of muscatel wine and apricot brandy.

As Floyd and the boy walked away, Joe Hampton, 19, told his pals the woman
"looked good enough to hug." He vowed to "catch the woman" on her return.

When Floyd passed 10 minutes later, Hampton stalked up and bear-hugged her when
she tried to run. He flicked a quarter to the escort boy to get lost, then
wrestled the woman into the woods.

For 90 minutes the men took turns raping Floyd, and they were joined by others
drawn by her cries.

At 7:30 that evening, the victim - supported by 2 Cherry Town Samaritans -
stumbled into a shop. Most of her clothing was missing, her legs and arms were
scraped raw, and her hair was a tangle of twigs and pine needles.

She said that she had been raped at least 13 times.

Floyd's husband, a local store manager, said she was "pretty much torn up." She
would spend weeks hospitalized for physical and emotional trauma.

Cops rounded up 7 suspects, including the 4 bottle-swiggers: Hampton,
half-brothers Howard and Frank Hairston, both 18, and Booker Millner, 20. Also
arrested were James Hairston, 20, no relation to the half-brothers, John
Taylor, 21, and Frank DeSales Grayson, 36. All were employed, and only 1 had a
criminal record.

Prosecutors said each man confessed, generally blaming booze. They were
secreted away to a remote jail to prevent lynching.

As they huddled behind bars to gauge their jeopardy, suspect Taylor said, he
warned "the other boys that that was a Christian woman and it would cause us
some trouble." He added, "If she was a drunk we might get by with it but I
could tell from the way that she talked that she was a good woman."

"Some trouble" was an understatement.

The Martinsville 7 were charged with rape. At the time, Virginia was 1 of 18
states, most in the South and West, that sanctioned the death penalty for
sexual assault. It was applied almost exclusively in black-on-white rapes.

In Virginia, 45 men had died in the electric chair for rape since 1906. Every
one was a black man convicted of raping a white woman.

In his book about the case, Eric Rise wrote that the Old Dominion setting
"evoked images of southern courts that avenged the desecration of white
southern womanly virtue without regard for due process or equal justice."

But Martinsville, then a prosperous furniture manufacturing center of 17,500,
regarded itself as less racist than the Deep South.

Before the trials, Judge Kennon Whittle summoned the attorneys involved for a
racial pep talk.

"We have in our community a negro population of splendid citizens," Whittle
said. "I here and now admonish you that this case must and will be tried in
such a way as not to disturb the kindly feeling now locally existing between
the races."

That racial harmony did not translate to jury selection. All 72 jurors seated
in April 1949 during a series of 6 1-day, assembly-line trials were white men.

Ruby Floyd testified 6 times, giving wrenching accounts of her assault and
facing attorneys' suggestive questions about her judgment and motivations. Most
defendants also spoke.

"I know I was wrong to have gone with the woman," Frank Hairston testified.
"Maybe if I hadn't been drinking I wouldn't have done what I did. ... If you
give me another chance I promise to be a better boy, never to get into nothing
else as long as I live."

But jurors gave no 2nd chances. The Martinsville 7 were convicted and sentenced
to die.

The racial dimension of rape condemnations seemed to make the cases strong
candidates for appeals, based on constitutional equal-protection provisions.

But a unanimous Virginia Supreme Court upheld the sentences. Ignoring the
statistics, Justice Edward Hudgins wrote there was not "a scintilla of
evidence" of racism in rape sentencing.

He added, "One can hardly conceive of a more atrocious, a more beastly crime."

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the cases as unworthy of consideration, and
Virginia warmed up its electric chair.

Telegrams to the governor and more than a dozen NAACP-staged protests in
Harlem, at the White House and elsewhere were fruitless.

The Martinsville 7 were dispatched in 2 shifts in 1951 - 4 on Feb. 2 and 3 on
Feb. 5. As his life ended, Booker Millner prayed for forgiveness for "the men
who are doing this to us."

26 years later, in Georgia v. Coker, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that
execution was a "grossly disproportionate" penalty for rape. Even then, the
justices failed to acknowledge the laws' racial roots.

(source: nydailynews.com)






NORTH CAROLINA:

Lives at stake


The capital murder trial of Cameron Romero Graves starting in 8 days will be
the 1st in Alamance County since 2014.

There are a lot of reasons for that.

"There was a time when any time there was a crime that had an aggravating
circumstance, the prosecutor didn't have a choice, he had to proceed capitally
with it," Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski said.

After 2001, prosecutors got discretion about which cases to take capital.

There have been many changes in how North Carolina administers the death
penalty starting in 1910, when the state took the right to execute away from
local authorities and started using the electric chair - both innovations at
the time.

After a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case ruled the death penalty was too arbitrary,
the state fixed that by making it mandatory for serious crimes, not just
murder, which the Supreme Court overturned in 1976, according to the N.C.
Department of Public Safety. The same year, the high court found Georgia had
the right formula with guilt and penalty phases of capital trials allowing
juries to consider the factors of individual cases using a consistent set of
guidelines, according to the UNC School of Government.

Since then North Carolina has executed 43 people.

148 people are now on death row - 1, John Burr, is from Alamance County - but
no one has been executed since 2006 because of several factors. One is the
argument that the lethal injection cocktail could cause the condemned great
pain, violating the Eighth Amendment barring cruel and unusual punishment, and
the state Medical Board objects to doctors participating in executions.

While there is a de facto moratorium on executions, capital punishment is still
the law in this state, and 14 offenders have been sentenced to death since
2006, according to DPS.

Graves, 28, of Graham is among six charged in connection with the killing in
March 2013 of Kenneth Joel Clapp, 49. Investigators believe one of the other
defendants, Marteese Martin, helped lure Clapp into the home at 325 Hall Ave.,
Burlington, on March 28, 2013, where Graves shot and killed him, court
documents say. Clapp's body was found partially burned on Lewis Graham Road in
rural northern Alamance County on March 29, 2013.

4 others are charged with aiding and abetting or helping cover up the murder.
Graves is the only one facing the death penalty.

That's one of those things that makes Sharon Brooks Hodge uncomfortable.

"I have a problem with 1 person getting the death penalty but not everybody
involved," Hodge said.

When she was the Times-News crime reporter, she witnessed the last execution of
an Alamance County offender, Raymond Dayle Rowsey, on Jan. 9, 2004, at the age
of 32. He had been convicted Oct. 1, 1993, of shooting and stomping to death
convenience store clerk Howard Rue Sikorski during a robbery in 1992.

Hodge remembered the witness room in Central Prison as small, hot and tense,
packed with witnesses from both sides - including the families of the victim
and the condemned.

The witness against Rowsey was his half-brother, Raymond Lee Steele, who
pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder and was paroled in 2015, according to DPS.
Each accused the other of pulling the trigger.

Hodge said she still supports the death penalty, but she thinks it's incredibly
hard to administer it both quickly enough to deter criminals and save public
resources, and fairly enough to be sure the killer is the one who dies.

"Those are just the kinds of things that linger in your mind, as opposed to
some of the more prominent death-penalty cases where there is no doubt about
guilt," Hodge said.

The decision to pursue capital punishment is complicated. State law requires
evidence of at least 1 of 11 aggravating factors in a murder case, like
committing the crime while incarcerated, or against a law enforcement officer,
or in the furtherance of a violent crime like rape, or for financial gain.

The elements of 1st-degree murder, premeditation or murder during the
commission of a felony aren't aggravating factors under the law, but Graves'
violent criminal history, including armed robbery and burglary, is an
aggravating factor under state law.

The only other pending capital case in Alamance County is the murder case of
Cesar "Chilango" Torres Acevedo, 35, accused of killing Juan Mario Martinez
Trujillo, 56, of Hillsborough, whom he allegedly set on fire the evening of
June 13, 2015, and who died the following Aug. 24 as a result of his injuries.

Police say the 2 were connected through drug transactions. An especially
heinous or cruel capital crime also is an aggravating factor.

Those factors are present in many cases.

"This is a decision that's made by a committee in this office," Nadolski said.
"We look at the facts of the case - we look at everything - what happened in
the case and who was affected by the case."

That committee comprises 3 people: Nadolski and Senior District Attorneys Lori
Wickline and Cory Santos. They go through cases thoroughly, Nadolski said.

He is not sure how many capital cases he has worked on, but Nadolski has
prosecuted 2 as district attorney. One was the 2014 trial of Robert Dennis
Dixon, 52, who after 6 weeks of trial - and just days shy of the anniversary of
Sara Dixon'a killing in 2007 - was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison
for his stepmother's murder. The other was Dennis Alan Mills, 58, who pleaded
guilty to killing Gary Allred and Charles Madden on Feb. 12, 2010, at the start
of his trial and is serving a life sentence.

Capital cases take more resources than other trials. According to the Office of
Indigent Defense Services, which provides lawyers for those who cannot hire
their own, it costs on average more than 4 times as much to hold a capital
murder trial.

(source: The Times-News)






FLORIDA:

Politics and the death penalty


Florida law calls for the death penalty, if there are specific "aggravating"
circumstances. That said, if ever a crime screamed death penalty, the case of
accused double-murderer Markeith Loyd is it.

So when newly elected Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced last month
that she would not seek the death penalty for Loyd - who is accused of killing
his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton -
or any other murder case in her 9th Judicial Circuit, it drew an immediate
backlash from the highest echelons. Gov. Rick Scott immediately took the Loyd
case from Ayala, who serves Orange and Osceola counties, and assigned it to
Ocala-based 5th Circuit State Attorney Brad King, a well-known proponent of the
ultimate punishment.

A spirited debate immediately ensued over the merits of the death penalty as
well as whether or not Ayala was derelict in her sworn duty or Scott had
overstepped his authority. More than 100 prominent lawyers and jurists from
across the country, including 2 former Florida State Supreme Court chief
justices, wrote Scott decrying what they deemed the governor's overreach. Death
penalty supporters called for Ayala to be removed from office. Conservative
lawmakers demanded Ayala's state-allocated budget be cut.

Undeterred, Ayala, who prosecuted death penalty cases as an assistant state
attorney, stood by her position that it is too costly, is an unproven deterrent
and too often is wrongly applied. Florida, after all, leads the nation in
exonerations of people sentenced to death. Equally undeterred, Scott dug in and
last week assigned another 21 pending 9th Circuit death penalty cases to King.

But rest assured, the Ayala-Scott standoff - as well as King's acceptance of
Scott's reassignment of 22 murder cases - is as much about politics as it is
about justice.

Under state law, prosecutors have broad discretion in deciding whether to seek
the death penalty. Yet, Ayala's decision to not pursue the death penalty in any
case for the next 4 years - something she failed to share with voters during
last fall's campaign - is clearly an abuse of that discretion, of Florida law.

And while state law allows a governor to appoint a new prosecutor if he finds
"good and sufficient reason," it is intended to be applied on a case-by-case
basis. Scott's blanket reassignment of all the 9th Circuit's death penalty
cases smacks of political overreach, if not political grandstanding.

Ayala did not tell voters in Orange and Osceola counties she intended to
abandon the death penalty, despite it being state law, probably because she
knew doing so would cost her the election. Scott, who is widely expected to run
for U.S. Senate, is undoubtedly using the case to burnish his conservative
credentials.

As for King, he told us he took the cases because the governor asked him to
and, with 28 years under his belt as the 5th Circuit's chief prosecutor, he is
the most senior state attorney among the circuits adjoining Ayala's. King
stands to make points with Scott, who expects to appoint 3 more justices to the
Florida Supreme Court before leaving office in 2018, a post King recently
applied for, albeit unsuccessfully.

Ayala needs to reconsider her no-death penalty stand if she intends to
prosecute Florida law to the fullest. Scott needs to pull back, because Ayala
is a local elected official and has so far not broken any laws. And King, well,
he will do the job asked and when the next opening on the state Supreme Court
opens up, expect him to submit his name - with a reminder to the governor of
this whole affair.

This story started out being about two dead women and their accused killer and
whether or not he would face the death penalty. But as is almost always the
case with the death penalty, it is ending up being as much about politics as it
is about justice.

(source: Editorial, Ocala Star Banner)

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

It's time to end Florida's death penalty


Sometimes courageous and prescient individuals are ahead of their time and can
even change history. In 1986 Florida Gov. Leroy Collins said, "Citizens of
Florida, I say the death penalty is Florida's gutter of shame. We have more
people in jails and prisons than all but a few states. These are signs of
failure."

In 1994 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun said "the death penalty
experiment has failed" and that it was time for the Court to abandon the
"delusion" that capital punishment could be consistent with the Constitution.

In 2001 Martha Barnett, then outgoing president of the American Bar
Association, declared the system of capital punishment "absolutely
unacceptable" and urged political leaders to heed the group's call for a
national moratorium on its use.

In 2013 Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte wrote, "I greatly fear that, when history
looks back on our system in the years hence, people will ask, 'Why was it that
the United States - unlike all other nations in Western Civilization -
maintained capital punishment even when there was such clear evidence of its
arbitrary application?'"

And Florida legislators return to Tallahassee year after year to tinker away,
trying to fix the broken death machine.

This year the Legislature passed a bill that will require unanimous jury
verdicts in the penalty phase of murder trials. Gov. Scott quickly signed it,
with his spokeswoman saying that his foremost concern is always for the
victims.

But State Rep. Joseph Geller voted against the unanimous jury bill.

"I don't think it's a deterrent," Geller said. "I don't think it stops people.
But most importantly, I don't believe in it because I think it is morally and
ethically wrong for the State to take lives."

The governor and the Legislature assert that killing people for their crimes
will bring closure to the victims' families. The opposite is true. When the
perpetrator of the crime is sentenced to life in prison without parole, the
families get closure. It's over and done.

But a death sentence provides the perpetrator with lawyers and investigators
paid for by you, the taxpayer. Appeals go on year after year, bringing anything
but closure to these families.

The American Bar Association has reported that a Florida death sentence case
costs approximately $2.5 million more than a life sentence. End the death
penalty and you end the appeals paid for by your tax dollars.

And now comes Aramis Ayala, the 1st African-American elected state attorney in
the state of Florida. She announced her office in Orange and Osceola Counties
will not pursue the death penalty. She says it is not in the best interest of
the community or in the best interest of justice.

"While the South, including Florida, accounts for around 80 % of executions, we
also have the highest murder rate," she said. "This does not describe
deterrence."

Gov. Scott immediately removed her from a high profile case and there have been
calls for her dismissal. We support Ayala's stand against the death penalty and
believe she is on the right side of history.

(source: Opinion; Sheila Meehan is on the board of Tallahassee Citizens Against
the Death Penalty, the oldest anti-death penalty organization in the
state----Tallahassee Democrat)






ALABAMA:

Attorney general hires expert on lethal injection process


The Alabama Attorney General' s Office has hired an expert on the lethal
injection process.

The office has a $50,000, $400-an-hour contract with Tampa-based Clinical
Pharmacology Services Inc. to "review the effect of drugs used in a lethal
injection and provide expert affidavits and/or expert testimony, if needed,"
according to the agenda of the Legislative Contract Review Committee.

Asked why the contract was needed, Clay Crenshaw, chief deputy attorney
general, said the company has expertise in "500 milligrams of midazolam."

Crenshaw later referred comments about the contract or lethal injection
procedure to a spokeswoman for the agency. She declined comment.

The prison system uses the sedative midazolam to render inmates unconscious at
the start of the death-penalty procedure. Media reports show up to 500
milligrams has been used in the past. The drug that has come under criticism,
The Associated Press reported last month.

"There are well-accepted scientific reasons why midazolam is not used as a
general anesthetic," lawyers for death-row inmate Tommy Arthur wrote in court
filings.

This month, a federal appeals court in Ohio blocked that state from using 500
milligrams of midazolam in its 3-drug execution procedure. The court said
arguments by death row inmates that even 500 milligrams of midazolam could lead
to a risk of pain were more convincing than counterarguments from the state.

In Alabama, Arthur's lawyers said the state has refused to turn over records
related to the state's last 2 executions, including one in which the inmate
repeatedly coughed for the first 13 minutes of the procedure.

The Alabama Supreme Court last week set a May 25 execution date for Arthur,
convicted of murder in the 1982 slaying of Troy Wicker of Muscle Shoals.

Arthur's execution has been halted 7 previous times.

There are 183 prisoners on death row in Alabama. Legislation currently in the
Alabama Statehouse would allow them to opt to die by nitrogen gas.

(source: Decatur Daily)






LOUISIANA:

Bills propose eliminating death penalty in Louisiana----Legislators push for
life sentence only after Aug 1


2 bills prefiled in the state Legislature propose eliminating the death penalty
in Louisiana. SB142 by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, and HB101 by Reps.
Terry Landry, D-New Iberia,and Steven Pylant, R-Winnsboro, would institute a
sentence of life in prison without the possibility of probation, parole or
suspension of sentence for convictions of capital crimes, including 1st-degree
murder, 1st-degree rape of a child under the age of 13 and treason.

If passed, the legislation would apply only to crimes committed after Aug. 1
according to the prefiled bill.

The bills will be considered during the 2017 regular legislative session, which
begins Monday.

(source: WDSU news)
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