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    By MICHAEL TARM, AP Legal Affairs Writer CHICAGO (AP) — On federal death row, prisoners fling notes on a string under each other’s cell doors and converse through interconnected air ducts. A top issue these days: whether President Joe Biden will halt executions, several told The Associated Press. Biden hasn’t spoken publicly about capital punishment since taking office four days after the Trump administration executed the last of 13 inmates at the Terre Haute, Indiana, penitentiary where all federal death row inmates are held. The six-month run of executions cut their unit from around 63 to 50. Biden's campaign website said he'd work to end federal executions, but he's never specified how. Four inmates exchanged emails with the AP through a prison-monitored system they access during the two hours a day they are let out of their 12-by-7-foot, single-inmate cells. Biden's silence has them on edge, wondering whether political calculations will lead him to back off far-reaching action, like commuting their sentences to life in prison and endorsing legislation striking capital punishment from U.S. statutes. “There’s not a day that...
    (CNN)Sabrina Smith was only 17 when a predominately White Mississippi jury convicted her in 1989 for fatally beating her 9-month-old son. "The judge said, 'we sentence you to death by lethal injection. May God have mercy on your soul,'" she recalled. "All I could say was, 'may God have mercy on your soul because you don't know what you just did.'" Eyewitness testimony and medical evidence that was produced during the first trial would later reveal that Smith's baby died from kidney disease. Still, Smith served six years in prison, including nearly three years on death row. Clive Strafford Smith, an attorney and a co-founder of Reprieve, a nonprofit legal organization, was able to get her conviction overturned and, after a second trial, she was acquitted of all charges. "State-sanctioned murder is not justice, and the death penalty, which kills Black and brown people disproportionately, has absolutely no place in our society," Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in a January letter to then attorney general nominee Merrick Garland. "Ending the federal death penalty -- which is as cruel as it...
    Sharon Osbourne has reportedly hired her own security after she, her family and her dogs began receiving death threats following a controversial exchange on The Talk. Osbourne has been hit with multiple accusations of racism following an on-air dispute with co-host Sheryl Underwood over Morgan's comments on Meghan Markle.  TMZ, citing sources close to Osbourne, reported that since the episode aired on March 10, the TV personality, 68, has been bombarded with furious messages on social media and has also received calls to her home and mobile threatening her safety. Pictures show men standing outside Osbourne's L.A. home next to cars marked 'private security'. The entertainment website on Thursday published said the security had been stationed there all week. Sharon Osbourne has reportedly hired her own security after she, her family and her dogs began receiving death threats following a controversial exchange on The Talk Pictures show men standing outside Osbourne's L.A. home next to cars marked 'private security' Osbourne has turned the comments off on her last two Instagram posts, reportedly after receiving a deluge of nasty...
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A 64-year-old death row inmate died Tuesday at a hospital and authorities say they do not suspect foul play. Johnny Mungia was sentenced to death by a Riverside County jury in 1997 in the killing of 73-year-old Alma Franklin, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. READ MORE: Authorities Mum After New Search In Kristin Smart Cold Case An official cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy by the Marin County coroner, the department said. READ MORE: ‘This Is A Wonderful Day’: Some Elk Grove Unified Elementary Students Return To Classrooms Mungia was placed on death row in San Quentin on April 14, 1997. MORE NEWS: Former GOP Rep. Doug Ose Enters California Governor Recall Election Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 99 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 29 have died by suicide, 13 were executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, 15 have died from other causes and seven — including Mungia — are pending a cause of death,...
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A 64-year-old death row inmate died Tuesday at a hospital and authorities say they do not suspect foul play. Johnny Mungia was sentenced to death by a Riverside County jury in 1997 in the killing of 73-year-old Alma Franklin, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. An official cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy by the Marin County Coroner, the department said. Mungia was admitted onto death row n on April 14, 1997. Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 99 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 29 have committed suicide, 13 were executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, 15 have died from other causes and seven — including Mungia — are pending a cause of death, the department said. There are 728 people on California’s death row. Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Tags: California, Associated PressRelated ArticlesBest StatesTax Revenues Up 6.5%Best States10 States With the Highest Incarceration...
    SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) — Johnny Mungia, a convicted killer on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison for more than two decades, died Tuesday morning at an outside hospital, corrections officials said Tuesday. Mungia, 64, was convicted in the brutal beating death of 73-year-old Alma Franklin in Riverside County and was sentenced to death in 1997. READ MORE: Redwood City Police Find Man Unconscious Following Attack At Wine Bar Johnny Mungia (CDCR) Franklin lived next-door to Mungia’s sister and court documents show Mungia killed Franklin during a home robbery. An autopsy on Franklin’s body determined she had been struck 23 times in the head and face with a blunt object, with the pathologist in the case saying her injuries were some of the most brutal he had ever seen, according to court documents. READ MORE: San Mateo County Moves Into COVID-19 Orange Tier; Restaurants Can Expand to 50% Indoor Capacity An official cause of Mungia’s death was pending autopsy results, but foul play is not suspected, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Since the beginning of the...
    The chickens kept by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are thought to be rescue birds that were facing death at a factory farm. Diane Dietreich, who runs Greener Pastures Farm Sanctuary in Arroyo Grande, California, said the hens are usually gassed once they pass their egg-laying peak. The couple showed off the hens they rescued from a factory farm where hens are usually gassed once they pass their egg-laying peak RELATED ARTICLES Previous 1 Next 'Back to basics' at their $14.5million mansion: Harry and... Netflix employee Prince Harry defends The Crown and says it... Share this article Share She said: ‘Factory farm chickens can be quite traumatised. We have to rehabilitate them until they can trust a human again.’ The Sussexes were shown on TV last week giving Oprah Winfrey a tour of a coop at their home in Montecito, with Meghan saying: ‘I just love rescuing.’ A plaque on the side of the hut reads 'Archie's Chick In. Established 2021'
    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Connecticut prison officials are imposing detention conditions that are too harsh on a former death row inmate convicted of killing a police officer, ordering the state to relax those conditions. Richard Reynolds, convicted of killing Waterbury officer Walter Williams in 1992, is detained at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers under the highest Level 5 risk level. He says he is confined to his cell 21 to 22 hours a day and has no interaction with any inmates in the general population — conditions he claims are unconstitutional. Three judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City upheld a lower court judge and ruled Reynolds' constitutional rights to equal protection are being violated, because two other former death row inmates are classified at a Level 4 risk level that allows them to live in the general population. They ordered that Reynolds be detained in similar Level 4 conditions. The judges also said the state law setting the Level 5 conditions was unconstitutional. Connecticut abolished its...
    By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A number of former judges and prosecutors — including two previous Alabama chief justices and a state attorney general — have joined those seeking a new trial for a death row inmate amid questions about his conviction more than 20 years ago. Former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, former chief justices Sonny Hornsby and Drayton Nabers and several former judges and prosecutors have submitted briefs supporting a new trial for Toforest Johnson who was convicted of the 1995 murder of a deputy sheriff. "The petition before the Court is an extraordinary and rare situation in which the evidence of constitutional violations and Mr. Johnson’s innocence is genuinely overwhelming," wrote attorneys representing Nabers, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cook and others. Johnson, 48, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff William Hardy. Hardy was shot twice in the head while working off-duty security at a hotel in 1995. Johnson has maintained his innocence and said he was at a nightclub at the time of...
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A number of former judges and prosecutors — including two previous Alabama chief justices and a state attorney general — have joined those seeking a new trial for a death row inmate amid questions about his conviction more than 20 years ago. Former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, former chief justices Sonny Hornsby and Drayton Nabers and several former judges and prosecutors have submitted briefs supporting a new trial for Toforest Johnson who was convicted of the 1995 murder of a deputy sheriff. “The petition before the Court is an extraordinary and rare situation in which the evidence of constitutional violations and Mr. Johnson’s innocence is genuinely overwhelming,” wrote attorneys representing Nabers, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cook and others. Johnson, 48, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff William Hardy. Hardy was shot twice in the head while working off-duty security at a hotel in 1995. Johnson has maintained his innocence and said he was at a nightclub at the time of the shooting. The key prosecution...
    (CNN)It wasn't until Yusuf Nur was inside the execution chamber, standing next to a condemned man strapped to a gurney, that he understood why he'd been asked to be present. The inmate, Orlando Hall, had asked Nur to be his Muslim spiritual adviser in the weeks leading up to his execution by the United States government and to serve as the minister of record when he was put to death on Thursday, November 19, 2020. "At the beginning, it was not clear to me that being a spiritual counselor would entail being there in the death chamber," Nur told CNN, "and be there only a few feet from the gurney where they execute the person." "But the day of the execution, standing there right beside his gurney where he's lying, in that death chamber, that's when I realized why he needed me there," Nur said. Even with the inmate's family in an adjoining witness room, "I was the only person he knew there." Between July 2020 and January 2021, 13 federal death row inmates were executed by the US government...
    This undated file photo released by Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Julius Jones. Oklahoma County's top prosecutor is asking the state's Pardon and Parole Board to reject a commutation request from Jones. Jones' case has drawn national attention and he's scheduled for a commutation hearing next week. Jones was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1999 shooting death of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP File Julius Jones was sentenced to die in 2002 for the 1999 shooting death of Paul Howell. He recently filed a commutation application with Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board.  At an in-depth review of his application, Jones will have chance to speak about his case. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board agreed to move forward with reviewing death row inmate Julius Jones' commutation application on Monday. Jones, 40, has been on death row since 2002, when he was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1999 fatal shooting of Paul Howell, a businessman from Edmond, Oklahoma. At his commutation application review...
    This undated file photo released by Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Julius Jones. Oklahoma County's top prosecutor is asking the state's Pardon and Parole Board to reject a commutation request from Jones. Jones' case has drawn national attention and he's scheduled for a commutation hearing next week. Jones was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1999 shooting death of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP File Julius Jones was sentenced to die for the 1999 shooting death of Paul Howell in Oklahoma. He has maintained his innocence and is seeking a sentence commutation.  Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board is reviewing his application next week. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. An inmate on death row in Oklahoma who has drawn national attention for his two-decade old case is having his commutation application reviewed by the state's Pardon and Parole Board on Monday, but prosecutors on Wednesday called for his filing to be rejected, accusing his lawyers of conducting a "campaign of misinformation." Julius Jones, 40, has spent 19 years on death row...
    This Sept. 24, 1997 file photo shows the table on which the convicted murderer Gary Lee Davis was executed in the Colorado State Penitentiary east of Canon City, Colo. AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file South Carolina's Senate passed a bill that would add firing squads as alternative execution methods. The bill still has to be passed in the House of Representatives.  South Carolina has faced a lethal injection drug shortage in recent years. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. South Carolina's Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that could add using a firing squad as an alternative execution method for prison inmates on death row. The new bill, which will go to the House of Representatives for consideration, would force death row inmates to choose one of three ways to die: lethal injection, electrocution, or firing squad, The Washington Post reported. At the moment, death row inmates can choose between dying by lethal injection or electric chair. But a shortage of lethal injection drugs has delayed executions because officials can't force people who chose lethal injection to be...
    DANCING On Ice's Rebekah Vardy has been locked in a bitter row with a TikTok star who made a joke about her. The 39-year-old WAG tore into Max Balegde on Twitter calling his post "sickening" and saying she's been the subject of death threats. 4Rebekah Vardy wrote: 'Having people wish death on you... is not a laughing matter'Credit: PA:Press Association The lad had said someone had reported his videos and, using Coleen Rooney's immortal sign-off, wrote: "It's Rebekah Vardy's account." But he was astonished when she objected in person, fuming: "Listen you may think this is all fun and jokes but I don't! "Having people wish death on you and your unborn child is not a laughing matter. It's sickening. Remove it." Max told her: "Rebekah ngl bestie I don't think anyone really thinks you're reporting my TikToks." 4Max Balegde had joked that she was the person who'd been reporting his TikToksCredit: TikTok 4The WAG, wife of Premier League star Jamie Vardy, called the joke 'sickening'Credit: ITV But she hit back: "Irreverent! I don't want to be associated with it."...
    A MUM who bit a taxi driver and called him a "p*** b******" in a row over a fare has been spared jail after claiming she had PTSD because her puppy had been mauled to death. Rebekha D'Stephano, 43, punched Jahangir Alam and bit his arm after she refused to pay him when he dropped her off at home in Swinton, near Salford, Greater Manchester following a night out. 3Rebekha D'Stephano, 43, punched Jahangir Alam and bit his arm after she refused to pay himCredit: Cavendish Press 3Cops called to the scene found D'Stephano's arguing in the street with a different taxi driverCredit: Cavendish Press She also smashed the windscreen and rear-view mirror of Mr Alam's car on February 16. Cops called to the scene found D'Stephano's arguing in the street with a different taxi driver over her 19-year-old son. In a statement, Mr Alam told police: ''I was very scared because she was a female, and I was worried the police would think it was my fault. "I lost around £100 for the shift I was working and a...
    By SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — As many as 10 death row inmates in Oklahoma, more than one-fifth of the state’s prisoners condemned to die, could escape execution because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country. The inmates have challenged their convictions in state court following the high court’s ruling last year, dubbed the McGirt decision, that determined a large swath of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation. The decision means that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal charges in cases in which the defendants, or the victims, are tribal citizens. Among the inmates likely to get a new trial in federal court is Shaun Michael Bosse, 38, who was convicted and sentenced to death in the 2010 killing of Katrina Griffin and her two young children. The victims were all found inside a burning mobile home near Dibble, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City. Dozens of other inmates convicted in non-death penalty cases also are seeking to have their convictions tossed, which is expected...
    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — As many as 10 death row inmates in Oklahoma, more than one-fifth of the state’s prisoners condemned to die, could escape execution because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country. The inmates have challenged their convictions in state court following the high court’s ruling last year, dubbed the McGirt decision, that determined a large swath of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation. The decision means that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal charges in cases in which the defendants, or the victims, are tribal citizens. Among the inmates likely to get a new trial in federal court is Shaun Michael Bosse, 38, who was convicted and sentenced to death in the 2010 killing of Katrina Griffin and her two young children. The victims were all found inside a burning mobile home near Dibble, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City. Dozens of other inmates convicted in non-death penalty cases also are seeking to have their convictions tossed, which is expected to result in a dramatic...
    A MAN has killed his own brother by stabbing him through the heart with a pair of a scissors. The pair had been arguing about about who should do the washing up in the Brazilian municipality of Andradina in the early hours of February 25.  3Jeferson Lucas Batista de Souza, 27, right, was killed by his brother Jhonatan Willian Batista de Souza, 26, leftCredit: Newsflash Jeferson Lucas Batista de Souza, 27, was killed instantly after the scissors pierced his heart. His brother Jhonatan Willian Batista de Souza, 26, was arrested by the cops afterwards at the home they shared together following the incident. The emergency services were called to the scene and Jeferson was rushed to the UPA (Emergency Care Unit) of Andradina.  3Jeferson Lucas Batista de Souza, 27, was killed instantly after the scissors pierced his heartCredit: Newsflash 3Jhonatan Willian Batista de Souza, 26, was arrested by the cops at the home they shared togetherCredit: Newsflash However, he died on arrival due to cardiopulmonary arrest. Police officer Thiago Barroco told local media it was a pointless row that the...
    South Carolina lawmakers seek to resume executions in the state after going nearly ten years without executing an inmate. A state House committee voted 14-7 Tuesday to make electrocution the default method for execution. The bill is now set to go to the state House floor, and a similar bill is going to the state Senate floor for a vote. Currently, inmates on death row can choose between electrocution and lethal injection — the state’s current default method. Because South Carolina does not have the right drugs to put an inmate to death, the state has placed the death penalty on hold. The state last put an inmate to death in 2011, and its lethal injection drug supply has expired since then. In the prior decade, the state executed 17 inmates. Death row inmates reaching the end of their appeals are finding their executions have been postponed, officials said. Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) asked that lawmakers find a way to resume the death penalty in his State of the State speech in January. South Carolina lawmakers have unsuccessfully attempted to...
    By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina is dusting off its electric chair and trying to restart executions in the state after going nearly 10 years without putting an inmate to death. A House Committee voted 14-7 on Tuesday to make electrocution the default for an execution. The bill now goes to the House floor while a similar bill is on the Senate floor. Right now, inmates can choose between electrocution and the current default method of lethal injection. Because the state doesn't have the drugs to put an inmate to death, South Carolina is under a de facto moratorium on the death penalty. South Carolina last put an inmate to death nearly 10 years ago and its supply of lethal injection drugs has since expired. In the decade before that, the state executed 17 people. Inmates are reaching the end of their appeals, but executions have been postponed, prison officials said. Gov. Henry McMaster asked lawmakers to find a way to restart the death penalty in his State of the State speech last month. “We...
    Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland struggled Monday with questions about the death penalty during his confirmation hearing in the Senate. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) questioned Garland about the death penalty, noting Biden’s publicly stated support for a death penalty moratorium. Cotton noted that Garland worked on the case against domestic terrorist and white supremacist Timothy McVeigh for the bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City and asked if he believed it was a mistake to level the death penalty. Garland confirmed he supported the death penalty at that time. “I don’t have any regret but I have developed concerns about the death penalty in the twenty-some years since then,” he said. Garland expressed his concern about the racial disparities in death penalty cases. Cotton continued his line of questioning, raising the high-profile prosecution of Dylann Roof for the massacre of nine black Americans at a Charleston church. “Do you believe that it was a mistake to seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof for murdering nine African-Americans as they worshiped in church?” Cotton asked. Garland said he would not...
    Virginia's state Senate on Monday passed a bill already approved approved by the House of Delegates that would make the state the 23rd in the nation to ban the death penalty, The Associated Press reported. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who is expected to sign it.   Del. Michael Mullin (D), the House bill's sponsor, told Time magazine that support for the bill's passage was due in large part to Northam addressing the issue during his January State of the Commonwealth address. “There have been people who have put abolition forward for the better part of four decades,” Mullin told the news outlet. “But we’ve never had a governor who went out forcefully and with a full-throated approach to abolish the death penalty.” Northam in a statement earlier this month said the death penalty is "fundamentally inequitable."  "It is inhumane. It is ineffective. And we know that in some cases, people on death row have been found innocent," he added Virginia has not executed any inmates on death row since 2017, when two were put to death. The expected...
    Disturbing Chinese government statistics reveal a huge drop in the number of old people receiving state payments in Hubei – the province containing the city of Wuhan – in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic’s eruption. The official data, which shows a fall of more than 150,000 people receiving the benefits in the first quarter of last year, will fuel fears the death toll from Covid-19 in China was far higher than the government has admitted. According to the Chinese authorities, there have been only 4,636 Covid deaths in their nation of 1.4 billion – with all except 124 of the fatalities in the central province of Hubei. There is widespread scepticism over these figures.  They conflict with studies of cremations and news reports from Wuhan, one of which claimed 10,000 funeral urns were delivered over two days to a single funeral home before news was censored. The official data, which shows a fall of more than 150,000 people receiving the benefits in the first quarter of last year, will fuel fears the death toll from Covid-19 in China...
    For every eight people executed in the United States since the 1970s, one person has been wrongfully convicted and later exonerated, underscoring the risk of innocent people suffering the ultimate punishment, a death penalty research group said Thursday.  In a new report, the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) said its examination of every death sentence handed down since 1973 – more than 9,600 in all – revealed that 185 death row inmates had been exonerated after being wrongfully convicted, 11 more than previously known. There have been 1,532 executions in the United States since 1976.  “Everybody’s worst fear about capital punishment is that innocent people will be wrongfully convicted and executed,” Robert Dunham, DPIC’s executive director, said in an interview.  “Knowing how many people have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated is critical to our understanding of how great the risk is that innocent people will be executed.”  All but one of the 11 newly uncovered exonerations occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. The most recent dismissal came in 2002 when Andre Minnitt was acquitted after spending nearly a decade on...
    NIGHTLY Pop star Morgan Stewart welcomed her first child, daughter Row Renggli, with husband Jordan McGraw. The 32-year-old shared the exciting news in an Instagram post on Wednesday. 1Morgan welcomed her first child with husband Jordan McGrawCredit: Instagram Alongside a snap of her cradling her new daughter in the hospital bed, Morgan wrote in the caption: "Row Renggli McGraw just quickly wanted me to update you guys that after 30 hours, 27 apple juices, & 16 pushes later that she decided to join our party! "And she's definitely the coolest girl I've ever met."  While the snap doesn't give a good look at baby Row, the adorable newborn rocked a purple hat with a large bow as her mother lovingly looked down at her. Most read in EntertainmentExclusiveNICKI'S PAINNicki Minaj 'heartbroken' over dad's hit-and-run death, grieving mom revealsGOING FOURTHMeet Rush Limbaugh's fourth wife Kathryn AdamsTRAGIC DEATHWhat you need to know about actor Carl Judie and his cause of death'HE'S CHANGED'Teen Mom Jade reveals ex Sean is now involved in their daughter Kloie's life'NOT RACIST'Rachael Kirkconnell's antebellum-themed party image explainedLOOKING GOODTeen...
    BRADENTON (CBSMiami/AP) — More than a dozen mutilated pelicans have been found in the last month at a popular fishing pier in Manatee County. “It sure looks like somebody has cut a square right into the forehead of several of them,” said Kim Begay, vice-chair of Friends of the Pelicans. RELATED: Man Struck, Killed While Walking Along I-95 Since January 9th, the rescue group says a total of 16 disfigured pelicans have been found at the fishing pier on the Manatee County side of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Some of the mutilated birds were discovered as recently as last week. Begay said the pelican rescue group has managed to save all but one of the wounded pelicans. “We are asking that the state park system increase patrols, have somebody stationed at the end of the pier” — particularly at night, Begay said, when “there’s literally no oversight out here.” RELATED: Man Injured In West Kendall Shooting Some have dubbed the South Skyway Fishing Pier as “pelican death row.” The group typically rescues between 25 to 35 pelicans every day...
    Earlier this week, 82 civil rights groups publicly called on President Joe Biden to halt all federal executions and commute the sentences of federal death row prisoners. This follows a mildly surprising silence from the Biden White House on just what the new administration's plans for reforming capital punishment may be. It was widely expected that Biden, a death penalty opponent, would swiftly both reinstitute the pre-Trump federal moratorium on carrying out executions and announce broader reforms after the Trump team—and most conspicuously Trump's last attorney general, the astonishingly crooked administration bagman William Barr—resumed executing federal prisoners and scurried to execute as many as possible in the days between Trump's election loss and Biden's inauguration. Human and civil rights groups are therefore giving the administration a public nudge: halting the Trump team's surge of executions is not enough. "[I]f there is one thing that the waning months of the Trump presidency also made clear, it is the horrendous implications of simply having an informal federal death penalty moratorium in place," the signers argue. In the letter, the groups point out specific actions...
    Associated Press BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — A pelican rescue group in Florida wants state wildlife officials to heighten patrols at a popular fishing pier in Manatee County after more than a dozen mutilated birds were discovered over the past month in the area. “It sure looks like somebody has cut a square right into the forehead of several of them,” Kim Begay, Friends of the Pelicans vice chair, told Spectrum Bay News 9. Since January 9, the rescue group says a total of 16 disfigured pelicans have been found at the fishing pier on the Manatee County side of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Some of the mutilated birds were discovered as recently as last week. Begay said the pelican rescue group has managed to save all but one of the wounded pelicans. “We are asking that the state park system increase patrols, have somebody stationed at the end of the pier" — particularly at night, Begay said, when "there’s literally no oversight out here.” Some have dubbed the South Skyway Fishing Pier as “pelican death row.” The group typically rescues...
    A FIRST time mum has revealed how she welcomed a baby with a man on death row who is a convicted double murderer. Sigrid, 39, originally from France, has now moved to Florida to be closer to convict Alan Wade who is serving out his sentence an hour away at Union Correctional Institution. 8Sigrid has welcomed a baby with Alan Wade who is on death row in FloridaCredit: Getty - Contributor Alan, 33, was convicted in 2005 following the robbery, kidnapping and first-degree murders of Reggie and Carol Sumner. The retired Jacksonville couple were buried alive by Alan and his accomplices Tiffany Ann Cole, Michael James Jackson and Bruce Kent Nixon who had gained access to their home by asking to use the phone. But despite the violent crime, Sigrid has found love with the inmate having struck up a romance after exchanging letters. After falling in love with the double murderer, Sigrid up sticks and moved to Florida where Alan proposed, and the pair have since married in prison. 8Alan proposed to Sigrid after a year of exchanging letters...
    A DEATH row inmate was granted a last-minute stay of execution after the Supreme Court ruled that we could not be killed without his priest by his side. Willie Smith, 52, was convicted of the 1991 killing of a 22-year-old woman in Birmingham, Alabama, after robbing her at gunpoint at an ATM. 2Smith's lawyers argued to the Supreme Court that he cannot be executed without his priest present Smith's lawyers over the decades have challenged his death sentence, arguing he has a below-average mental capacity. As the execution date approached, lawyers challenged the fact Smith's personal chaplain would not be allowed in the death chamber for security reasons. They also protested protocol changes prison authorities adopted because of Covid-19. Smith had asked that his pastor be by his side during his execution, to ease what he called the "transition between the worlds of the living and the dead". A federal court ruled in his favor Wednesday, issuing a temporary stay of execution, but Alabama authorities filed another appeal the following day with the US Supreme Court. And now a majority...
    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would make the electric chair the default execution method for death row inmates in the state. A House subcommittee advanced Thursday legislation that requires death row prisoners to be electrocuted if lethal injection is not available as an option. Currently, death row prisoners who exhaust their court appeals can choose to die by either lethal injection or electrocution. The method defaults to lethal injection if a prisoner does not make a choice. But South Carolina ran out of the drugs needed for lethal injection in 2013 and hasn’t been able to buy more since. Two executions have been paused in the last three months because of the lack of drugs. The state Supreme Court last year delayed the December execution of Richard Bernard Moore, who was convicted for the 1999 killing of a convenience store clerk in Spartanburg County. Earlier this month, the high court also stayed the execution of Brad Sigmon, who was sentenced to death for a 2001 double murder in Greenville. Copyright 2021 The Associated Press....
    A woman who married a man she met while writing to inmates on death row, has revealed they've managed to have a baby together - despite conjugal visits not being permitted at his prison.  Sigrid, 39, who is from France but now lives in Florida, spoke to Truly about the challenges she's faced since beginning a relationship with Alan Wade, 33, who was convicted in 2005 of robbery, kidnapping and first-degree murders of Reggie and Carol Sumner, a retired couple living in Jacksonville, who he buried alive.  Alan and Sigrid met after she began writing to prisoners because she's against the death penalty and have now welcomed a son, although Sigrid has not revealed how she managed to fall pregnant with her husand behind bars at Union Correctional Institution. Even in states that allow conjugal visists, they are banned on death row.   'We don't want to say how my son was conceived. I think it's important that we can sit and explain to my son how he was conceived before someone else does it for us,' she said. 'I like to respond that...
    ISLAMABAD (AP) — In a landmark ruling, Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday commuted the death sentences of two mentally ill prisoners who have spent decades on death row, the first such ruling in this conservative Muslim-majority nation. The decision by the Supreme Court was quickly hailed by Justice Project Pakistan, a rights group that has fought an extensive, years-long legal battle for the two inmates. One of the two prisoners whose sentence was commuted, Kanizan Bibi, has spent 30 years on death row. She was 16 when she was charged with murdering her employer’s wife and five children. The police said she was having an affair with her employer, who was also arrested and later hanged. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2000. The second prisoner on death row whose sentence was commuted, Imad Ali, 55, was convicted of murdering a religious scholar in 2001. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2008. In 2016, Pakistan’s Supreme Court halted the execution of Ali, just days before he was to be hanged. “Because of certain misconceptions, the implications of...
    HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A Texas death row inmate who raped and strangled a 77-year-old woman at her Houston home nearly 27 years ago has died after being diagnosed with COVID-19, his attorney said Tuesday, Feb. 8. Jorge Villanueva, 66, had been receiving treatment for liver cancer when he recently tested positive for the coronavirus, said Jeremy Schepers, one of his lawyers. RELATED: Winter Weather Advisory For Northern North Texas Counties In Effect 10PM Tuesday Jorge Villanueva (credit: TDCJ) Villanueva died Saturday afternoon, Feb. 6. at Hospital Galveston, a medical facility run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said agency spokesman Jeremy Desel. His death is under investigation and an autopsy is being performed, Desel said. While a formal cause of death has not been confirmed, Schepers said in an email that hospital records “indicate that COVID-19 is the presumed, but as of yet unconfirmed, cause of death.” Villanueva, who had been on death row for nearly 25 years, did not have an execution date at the time of his death. Villanueva was convicted of the August 1994 slaying of...
    By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas death row inmate who raped and strangled a 77-year-old woman at her Houston home nearly 27 years ago has died after being diagnosed with COVID-19, his attorney said Tuesday. Jorge Villanueva, 66, had been receiving treatment for liver cancer when he recently tested positive for the coronavirus, said Jeremy Schepers, one of his lawyers. Villanueva died Saturday afternoon at Hospital Galveston, a medical facility run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said agency spokesman Jeremy Desel. His death is under investigation and an autopsy is being performed, Desel said. While a formal cause of death has not been confirmed, Schepers said in an email that hospital records “indicate that COVID-19 is the presumed, but as of yet unconfirmed, cause of death.” Villanueva, who had been on death row for nearly 25 years, did not have an execution date at the time of his death. Villanueva was convicted of the August 1994 slaying of Maria Jova Montiel. Prosecutors said forensic evidence tied Villanueva to the crime. He also gave...
    HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas death row inmate who raped and strangled a 77-year-old woman at her Houston home nearly 27 years ago has died after being diagnosed with COVID-19, his attorney said Tuesday. Jorge Villanueva, 66, had been receiving treatment for liver cancer when he recently tested positive for the coronavirus, said Jeremy Schepers, one of his lawyers. Villanueva died Saturday afternoon at Hospital Galveston, a medical facility run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said agency spokesman Jeremy Desel. His death is under investigation and an autopsy is being performed, Desel said. While a formal cause of death has not been confirmed, Schepers said in an email that hospital records “indicate that COVID-19 is the presumed, but as of yet unconfirmed, cause of death.” Villanueva, who had been on death row for nearly 25 years, did not have an execution date at the time of his death. Villanueva was convicted of the August 1994 slaying of Maria Jova Montiel. Prosecutors said forensic evidence tied Villanueva to the crime. He also gave a...
    More On: death penalty At least 33 death row inmates catch COVID after flurry of executions China executes former bank chief in bribery case Democrats urge President Joe Biden to commute sentences of death row inmates US executes ‘womb raider,’ the first woman put to death since 1953 The interim warden at the troubled Manhattan lockup where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself served as the executioner at five executions carried out by the Bureau of Prisons in recent months, a report said Monday. Warden Eric Williams participated in the five executions when the federal agency resumed killing death row inmates in July during President Trump’s final months in office, the Associated Press reported. Williams detailed his experience during two of the executions in court filings included in court cases related to the agency’s use of the death penalty. In one of the statements, Williams said he was the official to ask inmate Brandon Bernard if he had any statements to make before he was put to death. “I witnessed the execution on December 10, 2020, from...
    A bill that would abolish the death penalty passed the Virginia General Assembly on Friday, positioning the state to outlaw the practice altogether. The bill passed the Virginia House of Delegates on Friday by a 57-41 vote, two days after clearing the state Senate by a 21-17 vote. It now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has vowed to sign it into law. “The practice is fundamentally inequitable. It is inhumane. It is ineffective,” Northam said in a statement on Wednesday. “And we know that in some cases, people on death row have been found innocent.” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) speaks during a news conference on June 4, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images) If signed into law, Virginia would become the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty and the first southern state to end the practice. The first execution in the state was carried out over 400 years ago, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, when the state executed Captain George Kendall on charges of espionage. (RELATED: Justice Department Rushes To...
    By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia moved another step closer to ending capital punishment on Friday when the state House joined the Senate in voting to abolish the death penalty. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam supports the legislation, which would make Virginia the 23rd state to stop executing death row inmates. It's a dramatic shift for Virginia, which has put more people to death over its centuries-long history than any other state. The bill advanced on a 57-41 vote, which followed a heated debate in the chamber a day earlier. Democrats favoring abolishment said the death penalty is an archaic punishment in an era when many countries have already moved away from the practice, and too costly to implement, given the litigation involved. They also said it has been applied unfairly, with people of color, the mentally ill and the indigent more likely to end up on death row. “The government should not be in the business of killing human beings. It's immoral, inhumane,” Democratic Del. Marcus Simon said. Republicans raised concerns about justice for the victims...
    A DEATH row inmate has been scheduled to be executed next week after he was convicted of murder almost 30 years ago. The Alabama Supreme Court ruling comes as President Joe Biden, a vocal opposer of the death penalty, begins his first full month in office. 2Willie B. Smith III was sentenced to death at aged 22 for capital murderCredit: Handout Who is Willie B. Smith? Willie B. Smith III, 51, is a state death row inmate currently being held in Holman Prison. At age 22, he was convicted of capital murder and was handed the death sentence by a vote by jurors of ten to two. His execution is scheduled for February 11. Why is he on death row? Smith was one of three people convicted in 1992 for the murder of a Birmingham woman. He was sentenced to death after the abduction, robbery and murder of Sharma Ruth Johnson. The execution style shooting at a cemetery by Smith after Johnson was held in the trunk of her own car, occured after he instructed Angelica Willis, who he lived...
    Virginia legislators appear poised to abolish the death penalty in the coming days, a step that would make it the first Southern state to end the practice of capital punishment. A bill to end capital punishment passed the state Senate on Wednesday by a 21-17 margin. The state House of Delegates is set to take up companion legislation as early as Friday. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) supports an end to the death penalty. “The practice is fundamentally inequitable. It is inhumane. It is ineffective. And we know that in some cases, people on death row have been found innocent,” Northam said after the Senate acted.  Virginia would be the 23rd state to have abolished the death penalty. Colorado legislators did so in 2020. The move to end the death penalty is all the more notable for Virginia’s history as a leading practitioner of executions. More prisoners have been put to death in Virginia than in any other state, said Jackson Sasser, a historian at William & Mary College. The first execution in what eventually became the United States took place in...
    A MAN in Brazil has been arrested for allegedly stabbing his wife to death during a row over their rival football teams, police said. Cops in the footie-mad nation arrested Leonardo Souza Ceschini, 34, in the in the city of Sao Paulo after he allegedly stabbed his wife several times in the early hours of January 31. 5The mum-of-two was an avid football fanCredit: Newsflash 5Erica pictured with her husband, LeonardoCredit: Newsflash The police were called to the couple's house, where they reportedly found mum-of-two Erica Fernandes Ceschini, 34, lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood. An ambulance was called, and Erica was pronounced dead at the scene. Leonardo was taken to hospital under police escort where he is currently recovering from injuries to the abdomen. The police believe the businessman killed his wife during a row over football. Erica supported Palmeiras and was celebrating her team's one-nil victory over Santos in the Copa Libertadores final on January 30. This reportedly angered Leonardo, who supported Palmeiras' arch rivals Corinthians. The rivalry between the two Sao...
    Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Pakistani-British man acquitted of the 2002 gruesome beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl off death row and moved to a so-called government "safe house." Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who has been on death row for 18 years, will be under guard and will not be allowed to leave the safe house, but he will be able to have his wife and children visit him. "It is not complete freedom. It is a step toward freedom," said Sheikh's father, Ahmad Saeed Sheikh, who attended the hearing. PAKISTAN COURT ORDERS MAN ACCUSED IN JOURNALIST DANIEL PEARL'S DEATH FREED The Pakistan government has been scrambling to keep Sheikh in jail since a Supreme Court order last Thursday upheld his acquittal in the Wall Street Journal reporter’s death, triggering outrage by Pearl's family and the U.S. administration. In a final effort to overturn the acquittal, Pakistan's government as well as the Pearl family filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking it to review the decision to exonerate Sheikh of Pearl's murder. The family's lawyer, Faisal Siddiqi, however, said...
    ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Pakistani-British man acquitted of the 2002 gruesome beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl off death row and moved to a so-called government “safe house.” Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who has been on death row for 18 years, will be under guard and will not be allowed to leave the safe house, but he will be able to have his wife and children visit him. “It is not complete freedom. It is a step toward freedom,” said Sheikh’s father, Ahmad Saeed Sheikh, who attended the hearing. The Pakistan government has been scrambling to keep Sheikh in jail since a Supreme Court order last Thursday upheld his acquittal in the death of Pearl, triggering outrage by Pearl’s family and the U.S. administration. In a final effort to overturn the acquittal, Pakistan’s government as well as the Pearl family have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking it to review the decision to exonerate Sheikh of Pearl’s murder. The Pearl family lawyer, Faisal Sheikh, however, has said that such a review has...
    By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Pakistani-British man acquitted of the 2002 gruesome beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl off death row and moved to a so-called government “safe house." Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who has been on death row for 18 years will be under guard and won’t be allowed to leave the safe house, but he will be able to have his wife and children visit him. “It is not complete freedom. It is a step toward freedom," said Sheikh's father, Saeed Sheikh, who attended the hearing. The Pakistan government has been scrambling to keep Sheikh in jail since a Supreme Court order last Thursday upheld his acquittal in the death of Pearl generating expressions of outrage by Pearl's family and the U.S. administration. In a final effort to overturn Sheikh's acquittal, Pakistan government as well as the Pearl family have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to review the decision to exonerate Sheikh of Pearl's murder. The Pearl family lawyer, Faisal Sheikh, earlier said a review has...
    ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Pakistani-British man acquitted of the 2002 gruesome beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl off death row and moved to a so-called government “safe house.” Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who has been on death row for 18 years, will be under guard and will not be allowed to leave the safe house, but he will be able to have his wife and children visit him. “It is not complete freedom. It is a step toward freedom,” said Sheikh’s father, Ahmad Saeed Sheikh, who attended the hearing. The Pakistan government has been scrambling to keep Sheikh in jail since a Supreme Court order last Thursday upheld his acquittal in the death of Pearl, triggering outrage by Pearl’s family and the U.S. administration. In a final effort to overturn the acquittal, Pakistan’s government as well as the Pearl family have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking it to review the decision to exonerate Sheikh of Pearl’s murder. The Pearl family lawyer, Faisal Sheikh, however, has said that such a review has...
    ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Pakistani-British man acquitted of the 2002 gruesome beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl off death row and moved to a so-called government “safe house.” Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who has been on death row for 18 years will be under guard and won’t be allowed to leave the safe house, but he will be able to have his wife and children visit him. “It is not complete freedom. It is a step toward freedom,” said Sheikh’s father, Saeed Sheikh, who attended the hearing. The Pakistan government has been scrambling to keep Sheikh in jail since a Supreme Court order last Thursday upheld his acquittal in the death of Pearl generating expressions of outrage by Pearl’s family and the U.S. administration. In a final effort to overturn Sheikh’s acquittal, Pakistan government as well as the Pearl family have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to review the decision to exonerate Sheikh of Pearl’s murder. The Pearl family lawyer, Faisal Sheikh, earlier said a review has a slim chance...
    ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani court orders man acquitted in beheading of US journalist Daniel Pearl taken off death row, moved to safe house. Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.