death penalty news----ARK., KAN., NEV., CALIF., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-11-03 13:08:17 UTC
Nov. 3

ARKANSAS----impending exexcution

Arkansas high court rules prisons agency must identify manufacturer of
execution drug

Arkansas' highest court has ruled state prison officials must identify the
manufacturer of one of the lethal injection drugs they plan to use to put a
convicted murderer to death next week.

The decision by the state Supreme Court reversed in part a Pulaski County
judge???s September ruling, which ordered the state to release unredacted
copies of package inserts and drug labels for its batch of midazolam, a
sedative used to start executions.

The court said Thursday that the labels must be released but said a Pulaski
County judge must determine what identifying information other than the
manufacturer can be withheld.

The decision comes a week before Arkansas is set to execute Jack Gordon Greene
at the Cummins Unit on Nov. 9.

Earlier Thursday, Greene appeared shackled in a Jefferson County courtroom,
where his lawyer's challenged state prison director Wendy Kelley's assertion
that Greene is competent to be put to death.

The attorneys from the federal public defender's office in Little Rock argue
that Greene is delusional and are seeking an independent examination of his
mental health. Greene, however, alleged that his lawyers are conspiring against
him before being silenced by the judge.

Eleventh West Judicial Circuit Judge Jodi Dennis had yet to make a ruling in
that case as of Thursday afternoon.

(source: arkansasonline.com)


Kansas Supreme Court reviews death sentence for murderer of Arkansas City teen

The Kansas Supreme Court sifted through nuances of evaluating intellectual
disability and 2 dozen other alleged trial errors Friday in the appeal of a
south-central Kansas man's death sentence for kidnapping, raping and strangling
a teenage college student.

Justices worked through 2 hours of argument by appellate counsel Reid Nelson
and Kansas deputy solicitor general Kristafer Ailslieger, who argued divergent
views of convicted killer Justin Eugene Thurber's contention he should be
spared execution because a Cowley County trial judge improperly denied a
request for a hearing to determine whether he functioned at a "significantly
sub-average" level.

Thurber was sentenced to death in 2009 for murdering Jodi Sanderholm, who was a
19-year-old student at Cowley College at the time of her abduction. Her body
was found in January 2007 under brush in a remote area near Arkansas City.

"He graduated from high school. He went to college and passed courses," said
Justice Eric Rosen. "Wouldn't that be an indication he wasn't suffering from
adaptive deficits that's in question here?"

Nelson said the trial court should have relied on testimony of clinical
professionals at a special hearing to determine Thurber's intellectual

"There was testimony he was socially awkward throughout school. His dog was his
best friend growing up," Nelson said. "He had a 6th-grade reading level after 2
years of college. He had a hard time living on his own. He couldn't handle
money very well."

However, Ailslieger countered the lower court was on solid ground proceeding to
issuance of a death sentence after the defense's own expert told the trial
court Thurber wasn't mentally disabled.

"What's a district court to do?" he said. "Really, the discussion should stop
there. That ship has sailed."

Thurber, 34, is among 10 men convicted of murder and placed on Kansas' death
row. Kansas restored the death penalty law in 1994, but the state hasn't
executed anyone since 1965.

Other questions raised during oral argument hearing in Topeka centered on
admissibility of a videotape of Thurber. The video was used by the prosecution
in Cowley County to depict the spooky-calm demeanor of Thurber in aftermath of
the murder.

"He didn't really care," Ailslieger said. "It showed, basically, he was a
cold-blooded killer."

The opposing attorneys waded into whether sufficient evidence existed to
declare Sanderholm endured heinous, atrocious or cruel treatment warranting
imposition of a sentence of death.

"There's no evidence of conscious physical suffering," Nelson said. "The
prosecutor can't pretend he's there watching it happen."

"She was beaten pretty severely," replied Ailslieger, who reminded the justices
Sanderholm was strangled, allowed to recover and strangled again during a
period lasting up to 12 minutes. "She was suffering severe mental anguish.
That's a pretty logical inference."

In addition, Nelson said, Kansas' antiquated law related to handling of
intellectually disabled defendants in capital cases reflected thinking
prevalent in the 1700s when "idiots" were exempt from capital punishment. State
law is unconstitutional given U.S. Supreme Court rulings that execution of
someone with even a mild mental disability violated constitutional protections
against cruel and unusual punishment, he said.

"We need a constitutional statute. The Legislature has got to fix it. If he's a
protected class, he can't be executed," Nelson said.

The alternative could be imposition of a life sentence without possibility for
parole, he said.

(source: Topeka Capital-Journal)

NEVADA----impending volunteer execution

Nevada is keeping its fentanyl execution plan a secret

Almost nothing is known about how Nevada plans to conduct its first execution
in 11 years later this month, but one thing is certain: The state will use
fentanyl, a powerful opioid that caused more than 20,000 overdose deaths last

Lawyers for death row inmate Scott Dozier are battling with the state in court
this week about the secrecy surrounding plans for his execution, set for Nov.
14. Nevada intends to use a sequence of 3 drugs for the lethal injection
that\'s never been used before - a sedative, fentanyl, and a paralytic. His
lawyers say the combination leaves doubt about whether the execution will be

"With so much secrecy around the execution plan, which has not been finalized,
how can Nevadans even know simple facts such as whether the prison staff will
be adequately trained to implement this experimental execution cocktail in a
constitutional manner?" ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Amy Rose said in a
statement last month.

Dozier, 46, was convicted of 1st and 2nd degree murder for killing and
dismembering 2 people in the early 2000s. The state has kept secret the details
of its plan for the execution, including training for the execution staff and
how the state acquired the drugs and from where.

During a hearing on Tuesday, Dozier's lawyers argued in front of a local judge
that the novel drug combination is dangerous. They are concerned that using a
paralytic will mask any problems with the other 2 drugs, as Dozier will be
unable to express pain or suffering. That's suspected to have happened already
in several other states with another drug, midazolam.

\"We're absolutely concerned about the fact that there's been so little
transparency in relation to the drug combination, the dosages, the sequence,
the training going into the execution itself," Lauren Kaufman, an attorney with
the ACLU, told Las Vegas station CBS 8 in Last Vegas.

Dozier's lawyers are calling on Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to halt the
execution until the state makes its execution plan public, and it's vetted by
the courts.

State lawmakers are concerned about how the state acquired the fentanyl, an
opioid at the center of an overdose crisis in the U.S. More than 20,000 people
died from fentanyl overdoses in 2016.

"I don't know why fentanyl is even allowed to be manufactured," said state Sen.
Tick Segerblom in an interview with VICE News in August. "People are killing
themselves, drug abusers with fentanyl, and now the state is going to do the
same thing to this guy."

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday.

(source: vice.com)


ACLU wants governor to stop Nevada's 1st execution since '06

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has launched a petition to try
persuade the governor to stop the state's 1st execution in more than a decade.

46-year-old Scott Dozier is scheduled to die by lethal ejection Nov. 14 at the
Ely State Prison about 60 miles from the Utah line.

The ACLU is calling it an "experimental execution" because the blend of drugs
has never been used anywhere else in the country.

The group posted a petition online this week seeking signatures on a letter
asking Gov. Brian Sandoval to intervene.

The ACLU says there's a "very real" chance a botched execution could result in
an unconstitutionally torturous and inhumane death. It says paralytic drugs
like one that would be used in the mixture to kill Dozier can't even be used to
euthanize animals in Nevada.

(source: Associated Press)


Death row double-murderer dies at San Quentin: Gang member targeted a Marine
and a teenager in separate attacks

A Desert Hot Springs gang member who killed a U.S. Marine and a 17-year-old boy
was found dead in his death row cell at San Quentin State Prison, authorities
said Thursday.

An autopsy was pending to determine the cause of 40-year-old Emilio Manuel
Avalos' death, according to the Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation.

A spokesman for the state agency, Lt. Sam Robinson, said the convicted murderer
was pronounced dead about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Avalos had been on death row since March 5, 2013, 2 weeks after Indio- based
Riverside County Superior Judge James Hawkins imposed capital punishment on the
felon for the slayings of 20-year-old Marine Cpl. Henry Lozano in 2001 and
17-year-old Jahi Collins in 1994.

Avalos fatally shot Collins and severely wounded his friend, Bobby Wilson, on
the night of Dec. 21, 1994, as the 2 sat in a park, where they had been
socializing with a couple of teenage girls. The location was considered the
territory of Avalos' gang, the West Drive Locos, whose members were anti-

Collins was black and Wilson white. Both men were shot multiple times. Wilson
suffered a paralyzing wound that left him unable to walk.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 19, 2001, Avalos followed Lozano after he
visited the residence of the gang member's ex-girlfriend, who had spurned him
in favor of Lozano. The young Marine was gunned down by Avalos in his vehicle
less than a mile away.

Both shootings went unsolved until 2006, when investigators began amassing
evidence with the help of informants, culminating in murder charges and special
circumstance allegations against Avalos. He was convicted in the fall of 2012.

Since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1978, 74 condemned inmates have
died from natural causes, 25 have committed suicide and 13 have been executed,
according to the Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. Another 8 have
died from unspecified causes, while 3 deaths, including Avalos', are

The death row inmate population is currently 745.

(source: mynenwsla.com)


The Supreme Court should strike down the death penalty

[Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and professor of
Constitutional Law at Harvard University]

After more than 40 years of experimenting with capital punishment, it is time
to recognize that we have found no way to narrow the death penalty so that it
applies only to the "worst of the worst." It also remains prone to terrible
errors and unacceptable arbitrariness.

Arizona's death-penalty scheme is a prime example of how capital punishment in
the United States unavoidably violates the Eighth Amendment's requirement that
the death penalty not be applied arbitrarily. The Supreme Court will soon
consider accepting a case challenging Arizona's statute and the death penalty
nationwide, in Hidalgo v. Arizona.

45 years ago, in Furman v.?Georgia, the court ruled the death penalty
unconstitutional because it was administered arbitrarily. Justice Potter
Stewart famously wrote that the death penalty was "cruel and unusual in the
same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual." As a result,
Arizona and other states rewrote their death-penalty statutes in an attempt to
narrow the punishment to the worst offenders. The Arizona legislature passed a
law in 1973 that required prosecutors to prove at least one of six aggravating
factors before the death penalty could be imposed.

The constitutionality of the death penalty returned to the Supreme Court in
Gregg v. Georgia in 1976. There, the court concluded that state lawmakers could
"minimize the risk of wholly arbitrary and capricious" executions by specifying
aggravating circumstances for which the death penalty could apply. In the 4
decades since Gregg, Arizona and other states have expanded their list of
aggravating factors, such as committing murders for hire or committing multiple
murders. Since 1973, the Arizona legislature has more than doubled its number
of aggravating factors to 14.

Scholars call this problem "aggravator creep." As a result of Arizona's
ever-expanding list of aggravating factors, 99 % of those convicted of
1st-degree murder are eligible for execution. This wholly fails to meet the
constitutional duty to narrow the punishment to those murderers who are "most
deserving" of the punishment.

It has also opened the door to disturbing racial trends. Studies show that
people in Arizona (and nationally) accused of murdering white victims are much
more likely to receive the death penalty. There are also geographic
disparities: Some counties do not pursue the death penalty, while Maricopa
County, where the defendant in the Hidalgo case was tried, imposed the death
penalty at a rate 2.3 times higher than the rest of the state over a 5-year

The Hidalgo case exemplifies the problems with our current capital punishment
regimes, problems that several Supreme Court justices have expressed interest
in addressing. It also presents these constitutional problems cleanly, without
the procedural obstacles that sometimes dissuade justices from hearing
important constitutional cases.

Instead of continuing, in the words of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, to "tinker
with the machinery of death," the court should hold the death penalty
unconstitutional nationwide.

In doing so, the court would be recognizing our country's movement away from
capital punishment: 11 states that have the death penalty on their books have
not had an execution in the past 10 years - 4 states have suspended the death
penalty, and 19 have abolished it entirely. Each year, the death penalty
continues to shrink as its use becomes not less but more arbitrary: Death
sentences have declined by more than 1/2 in just the past 5 years. Executions
went from a modern-era high of 98 in 1999 to 20?in 2016. A handful of counties
- just 2 % - are driving the death penalty while the rest of the nation has
moved on.

One reason jurors are increasingly uncomfortable in choosing death is the
growing awareness that too many condemned people are, in fact, innocent. In the
modern era of the death penalty, 160 people have been exonerated and freed from
death row because of evidence that they were wrongly convicted. A painstaking
study from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that 4 out of every 100
people sentenced to death in the United States are innocent. When even 1 in
1,000 would be unacceptable, the continued use of the death penalty undermines
the public's confidence in the criminal-justice system.

The court should acknowledge that capital punishment - in Arizona and
everywhere else - violates human dignity and constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment. At the very least, it should enforce the requirement that the death
penalty be available only in the rarest of circumstances.

(source: Op-Ed; Washington Post)


Next hearing delayed in convicted murderer's death penalty appeal

The next hearing in the case of a Minnesota man sentenced to death for killing
a University of North Dakota student in 2003 has been delayed 6 months.

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. of Crookston, Minnesota, is appealing his conviction and
sentence for kidnapping and killing Dru Sjodin, of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.
Rodriquez filed what is considered his final appeal in 2011.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson says the hearing is being moved from
December to July to allow lawyers time to review evidence and "frame up the

Lawyers from both sides requested that Erickson remain on the case even though
he has been elevated to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

(source: Associated Press)


Trump: NYC Truck Attack Suspect Should Get Death Penalty

A day after the deadly terrorist attack in New York City that killed at least 8
people, President Trump said suspect Sayfullo Saipov should get the death
penalty and that he would consider sending Saipov to Guantanamo Bay even though
he has already been charged in civilian court.

Saipov was arrested Tuesday after police said he drove a rented pickup truck
into a pedestrian and bicycle path in Manhattan, mowing down dozens of people.
The 29-year-old suspect, who is a native of Uzbekistan and a legal resident of
the U.S., was charged Wednesday in federal court with providing material
support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Authorities said they found a note in the truck pledging loyalty to the Islamic

The president, asked by reporters on Wednesday if he would consider sending the
suspect to the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center, said: "I certainly would
consider that," adding: "Send him to Gitmo, I would certainly consider that,

At a White House briefing later, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was
asked whether Trump thinks Saipov should be classified as an enemy combatant.

She responded, "I believe we would consider this person to be an enemy
combatant, yes."

Later on Twitter, though, the president appeared to backtrack from this

"Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that
process takes much longer than going through the Federal system..." Trump
tweeted Thursday morning. "...There is also something appropriate about keeping
him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH

Still, one theme did remain clear: Trump's displeasure with the speed of the
U.S. criminal justice system.

"We also have to come up with punishment that's far quicker and far greater
than the punishment these animals are getting right now," he said Wednesday.

"They'll go through court for years. And at the end, they'll be - who knows
what happens," Trump said. "We need quick justice and we need strong justice.
Much quicker and much stronger than we have right now."

(source: npr.org)


German justice minister slams death penalty after Trump's tweets----'No state
has the right to kill people as a form of punishment,' said Heiko Maas.

Germany's justice minister launched a Twitter attack on the death penalty soon
after U.S. President Donald Trump called for capital punishment for the man
suspected of this week's terror attack in New York.

'No state in the world has the right to kill people as a form of punishment,"
Heiko Maas tweeted on Thursday. "The death penalty contradicts our notions of
human dignity."

Maas' statement came minutes after Trump tweeted for the 2nd time that the
terror suspect behind Tuesday's attack should get the "DEATH PENALTY."

The attack, which killed 8 people and left 12 others injured, was the deadliest
terrorist attack in New York since Sept. 11, 2001.

Trump also suggested that the suspect should be prosecuted in a federal court
instead of transferred to a military detention facility.

"The quality of a nation under the rule of law is shown when it is under
threat: Toughness of law against terrorists, but no interference in the
independence of the justice system," Maas also said.

While legal in 31 U.S. states, the death penalty was outlawed in Germany after
World War II.

(source: politico.eu)
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