Day: May 18, 2012

OHIO – Abdul Awkal – execution – june 6 2012 – not mentally competent to be executed

Abdul Awkal

UPDATE June 15

CLEVELAND: An Ohio judge has ruled a condemned killer not mentally competent to be executed for the death of his wife and brother-in-law.

The ruling Friday by Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman on Abdul Awkal comes just a week after Gov. John Kasich ordered a last-minute reprieve hours before Awkal was set to die.

Awkal is convicted of killing his estranged wife and brother-in-law in a Cleveland courthouse in 1992 as the couple prepared to divorce.

Awkal’s attorneys had argued during several days of testimony that he is so mentally ill he believes the CIA is orchestrating his execution.

The Ohio Parole Board voted 8-1 last month against recommending mercy. Most members concluded Awkal had planned the shooting and it wasn’t because of a psychotic breakdown.

UPDATE : June 5  2012 Source :

Inmate Moved for Death Penalty to be Carried Out

COLUMBUS  — Ohio prison officials are beginning their preparations to execute a man convicted in the 1992 slayings of his estranged wife and brother-in-law at a courthouse in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County.

If put to death, 53-year-old Abdul Awkal would be the second man Ohio executes since lifting an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty that lasted six months.

Awkal, whose execution is Wednesday, was sentenced to death for shooting Latife Awkal, his spouse from an arranged marriage, and brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz, as the couple was taking up divorce and custody issues.

Awkal’s attorneys asked the state Supreme Court Monday to delay the execution to allow a hearing on Awkal’s mental competency.

The state opposes the delay and Awkal’s earlier requests for clemency were denied.


Source :

Abdul Awkal is on Ohio’s death row and scheduled to be executed on June 26, 2012. His story is unusual. His life prior to being sentenced to death for murder, was complicated, not only by much of his own doing. His circumstances were perhaps more because of his lack of education, lack of knowledge of his own Islamic religion, and limited mastery of the English language.

Awkal was born on March 10, 1959 in Beirut, Lebanon into a Muslim family, the third child of seven siblings. As the article develops, you will see that his crime was committed on January 8, 1992 and he was placed on Ohio’s death row on January 8, 1993.

For those who are familiar with the past several decades in Lebanon, it is easily understood that life was not only difficult, but dangerous as well. Times became hard for the Awkals and the father decided to move his family to America. When they left, Abdul had to stay since he was 20 years old and had to arrange for his own passport. He followed them four years later.

Shortly after coming here he married Latife, having two ceremonies, one under the Islamic law and another under the Laws of the United States. He and Latife later had a baby daughter. His married life was not a smooth one, and according to his own testimony, he was divorced three times (under the Islamic rules but remarried her later). Finally at one point, due to what his brother-in-law called a breach of Islamic law, he was automatically separated from his wife forever and could not raise the child, nor could she wear his name.

He reported that they withdrew his funds from the bank, took his collections which were in a safety deposit box and otherwise isolated themselves from him. They also decided to move back to Lebanon. Needless to say, this did not set well with Awkal and he appealed to the U.S. authorities.

In 1992, it was arranged for them to gather and meet with officials of the Family Conciliation Services at the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court. His brother-in law, Mahmoud, wife Latife and their baby were there. After waiting a considerable time, a disagreement arose and when it was over, he had shot and killed his brother and his wife. He was apprehended at the scene.

He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. He was placed on death row exactly one year after the crime was committed.

On January 29, 2001, Awkal wrote a very lengthy letter of confession to the U.S. District Court Judge Donald C. Nugent. It makes no denial of his killing the pair, but his life and the many exigencies which occurred to him, does create somewhat of a sympathy towards the fellow. It can change one’s opinion from feeling towards him as a cold blooded killer to that of a victim of circumstances. Yet, regardless of how moved one may be by his writing, it must be remembered that it still was not cause for the killing of two people. It is suggested that all who read this article, set aside enough time to read the site containing his confession. But be prepared to spend somewhere between 30 – 60 minutes. It will probably prove to be worth it.


May 23 Source

 A federal judge has rejected claims by two condemned Ohio inmates challenging the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection process.The two are the next inmates scheduled to die in the state, with Abdul Awkal (ab-DUHL’ AW’-kuhl) set for execution June 6 and John Eley (EE’-lee) set to die July 26.



July 2011

Introduction to “Ohio’s Death Row Confession”:  

I feel as if my whole life had been the companion of pain and suffering.

Surely had a very little happiness in it, which had been dragging me around the world from places of horror and misery, to places of unjust and cruelty.

I was born to a Muslim family in Beirut, Lebanon. I was the third child of seven. We all lived in a two room’s house. Life was uneasy for my father. So he took me out of school before I finish my 4th grade. I started to work with him, for a short while, tell he found me another place to work at. In short, I worked in many different places.

I was 16 years old when the civil war started in 1975. Life there becomes unbearable and was filled with pain and suffering. And because of this , my father started looking for a better place to live in. so, America was his place of choice.

My family went to America 4 years ahead of me. I had to stay behind because I was 20 years old and had to apply for my own immigration visa.

Four years later, my family called me from America. They told me to go down to the American embassy, and to bring with me my passport and fifty American dollar, to pay for the cost of immigration visa and have it stamped on my passport.

Before going to the embassy, I asked my uncle if he knew anyone works inside the embassy, that could help me get inside the building quickly, instead of standing long hours under the heat of the sun. my uncle responded saying, “ Yes, I do know someone works there.” Then he directed me to go to the other side of the building and to knock on the door there. A man will open the door. Tell him that my uncle is going to Italy and will bring back a leather shoes for you. Anyhow, I did what my uncle said me to do. But the man ( I forgot his name) won’t let me in, because the ambassador wasn’t there to stamp my visa. He asked me to come back tomorrow. So, I left the place with anger and frustration, but as soon as I had crossed the street and sat in my car and started to pull out of the parking space by the side of the road, a tremendous explosion went off behind me. It shook up everything in the area. And without any hesitation, I ducked my head down and pushed the pedal to the metal and speed away without knowing where the explosion was. But as soon as I got home, and before I had a chance to sit on the couch, someone was knocking on my door very hard. I opened the door to see what’s going on there. I found my downstairs neighbor at the door saying to me, with fear in her eyes, “Have you seen my husband ? !””Have you seen my husband?!” I respond back saying, “What?!” “Where is your husband?”

She told me that her husband works at the American embassy and someone had just blew it up!!

As soon as I heard her saying this, I could no longer stand up on my own two feet and my face turned yellow. I never knew that her husband work at the embassy.

But a few minutes later, my neighbor came back to tell me that her husband was in East Lebanon with the ambassador. Anyhow, it took me a few days to digest what had just happened to me !! And not to mentioned that God had already saved me from death 12 times like this, and I am always grateful for His mercy and His protection.

I want everyone to know that I am very ashamed in exposing my marital problem and the way that those people had used my religion (Islam) wrongfully to destroy me and to take my child away from me.

My intention in revealing my confession letter to you is to tell the truth about my case and not to disrespect my own religion or any other religions. But if I unintentionally did so, I profoundly apologize for it in advance and I ask the Lord for His forgiveness.

Awkal II

December 25, 2011

Dear friends, family and supporters;

For the last 10 years now, I have been searching for assistance from the outside world,to expose the injustice I have been suffering at the hand of the state of Ohio. However,I believe this search has been restricted by a number of individuals, including, but not limited to my lawyers, prison Administrators, Central Office, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor (Mr. Bill Mason), and the local television media. Because my time is numbered, due to an impending execution date of June 6, 2012, I grew I wish to express my most deepest apologies to anyone that I may have offended by this…Because of my extreme sense of urgency involved in my impending execution date, I feltI also felt it was important to communicate with the victim’s family (Ali Abdul-Aziz andOn January 5, 2011, I sent a kite to Mrs. Thorne asking what steps I need to take to initiate the dialogue? And her reply was as follows:

NO! It is a victim initiation only – You can write an apology letter and send it to me-Mrs. Thorne.

Because I had no one to assist me, my lawyers do not communicate with me, and nor my family Now that I have been blessed with someone willing and able to assist me in posting my confession letter and allowing the world to know what really happened, I am very grateful. In order for me to be fair and impartial, I will post on my website those profane In about a month I plan on posting several items for the world to review and consider. I ask for your patience and understanding. And I truly do appreciate your time and

Respectfully submitted,

Awkal II.


Is the Death Penalty Ever Justified?

May 18, 2012 Source :

Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, China, Sudan.

No, this is not a list of countries with records of human rights abuses; nor is it a list of countries with ruthless dictators; nor is it a list of countries the United States has condemned at some point within the past few months.

Actually, it’s an incomplete list. Add the U.S., and you are one step closer to completing a list of countries that kill their own people.

Every country mentioned currently allows its citizens to be sentenced to death. Only China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia execute more people than the U.S. does, and they are all on a list of only 20 nations who performed executions in 2009.

But, to be fair, executions are handed out with a somewhat honorable intention: to deter, and ultimately reduce, crime. It is reasonable, then, to question whether or not that works.

Indeed, the numbers do not add up. There is no evidence suggesting that increasing executions leads to a reduction in crime. In fact, as executions increased in the late ’80s, the number of crime rose along with them. Similarly, both the number of crimes and the number of executions have fallen in the past decade. If anything, the evidence concludes that increasing executions might actually correlate with higher crime.

Regardless, the only thing being accomplished by the death penalty is death itself. A country that brutally murders its citizens seems as far from developed or democratic as it can possibly be. If the United States is the beacon of freedom and justice that it claims to be, it would abolish the death penalty tomorrow.

Not to mention the unintended consequences that come with any policy, and are not easy to undo when it comes to the death penalty. A recent New York Times editorial tells the tale of Carlos DeLuna, an alleged murderer executed by the state of Texas in 1989. According to studies involving the case, DeLuna was likely innocent. It would be foolish to believe that DeLuna’s case is isolated.

At the very least, our system needs to start holding people accountable. The prosecutors in DeLuna’s case reportedly withheld crucial exculpatory evidence that led to his conviction and ultimate death — an unfortunate tactic that is widespread and goes unpunished. Prosecutors who act in such a way are, unquestionably, more guilty of murder than the innocent people they target.

Last August, Governor Rick Perry of Texas lambasted the Syrian government for threatening the safety of its own people. The next month, he received a roaring ovation after bragging about his authorization of 234 executions, the most in history.

Well, Mr. Perry, what’s the difference?

TEXAS – Roberts loses appeal in Lake Livingston Death

May 16, 2012 Source :

HOUSTON (AP) — A man sent to death row for the slaying of an East Texas woman nearly nine years ago has lost a federal court appeal, moving him a step closer to execution.

Forty-one-year-old Donnie Lee Roberts Jr. was condemned for robbing and shooting his girlfriend,Vicki Bowen, at her home on Lake Livingston in Polk County. Evidence showed Roberts, who previously served prison time in Louisiana for armed robbery, traded a gun stolen from the home for cocaine.

Roberts contended his trial judge improperly refused testimony from an expert witness about his alcohol and drug use, that his trial legal help was deficient and that his trial judge refused testimony from one of his relatives during punishment.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Tuesday rejected each of his claims.

FLORIDA – Photos : Evidence from the Trayvon Martin case

Source :

Georges Zimmerman Injuries : see the photos here 

Upcoming – Executions – June 2012

Update : June 20, 2012

Dates are subject to change due to stays and appeals


Henry Curtis Jackson

Mississippi EXECUTED 6:13 P.M

Bobby Hines

06/06/2012 Abdul Awkal Ohio Reprieve 2 weeks
12/06/2012 Jan Michael Brawner Mississippi  Executed  6:18 P.M.
12.06.12  Richard Leavitt Idaho Executed  10:25 A.M
20.06.12 Gary Carl Simmons Mississippi  Executed   6:16 p.m
27/6/2012 Samuel Villegas Lopez Arizona  

IDAHO – Out of appeals; death row inmate learns of execution date-Richard Leavitt

May 17, 2012 Source :

BOISE — On Thursday at around 4:00 p.m., Idaho death row inmate Richard Leavitt was served his official death warrant. He is set to be executed by lethal injection, June 12th. 

In just seven months, Idaho will have two executions. 

53-year-old, Richard Leavitt has been behind bars since 1985 for the murder of an eastern Idaho woman.  Leavitt was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder and mutilation of 31-year-old Danette Elg of Blackfoot. 

A 7th District Court judge signed the death warrant early Thursday; Leavitt was moved to an isolation cell at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution, which is policy.

Years of appeals followed the murder conviction. Attorneys claimed Leavitt suffered a brain injury which made him unstable at the time of the murder.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his final appeal. The Idaho Attorney General’s office says Leavitt came to the end of his road of appeals.

“It takes a long time for justice to be done in a capital case,” said LaMont Anderson with the Idaho Attorney General’s office. “But at the same time we can’t be too speedy because we do want to make sure that it is justice that is done and that we are doing the right thing in these cases.”

In July of 1984, Elg was found stabbed 15 times and her body was sexually mutilated. Police said the two were acquainted and even days before her murder, Elg reported Leavitt was prowling around her Blackfoot home.

Upon her disappearance, Leavitt expressed concern to police, so much concern; police records indicated he was allowed to enter Elg’s home with police where her body was found.

14 people are now on Idaho’s death row, including Leavitt.

Paul Rhoades was put to death in November of last year, for the 1987 murders of two women. Until that execution, Idaho had not carried out the death penalty since 1994.

The Fallibility of Forensic Evidence Argues Against the Death Penalty

May 12, 2012 Source :

A recent editorial in the Lincoln Journal Star of Nebraska concluded that experience with inaccurate evidence from crime labs shows that the death penalty cannot be trusted in the taking of life.  The paper called for the repeal of the death penalty based on a case in which the state’s CSI director tampered with evidence in a murder case. Recently, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the conviction of former CSI chief David Kofoed for planting evidence in a double murder. Kofoed placed a speck of blood in a car belonging to a suspect, which resulted in two innocent men being held in jail for several months. The editorial said such crime-lab error has also been found elsewhere: “You will be – or should be – appalled at the number of times that crime labs turn out to be providing inaccurate and phony evidence. The problems crop up in New York, San Francisco, Houston and many points in between. Sometimes the problem is sloppiness. Sometimes technicians are manufacturing evidence deliberately. Sometimes the science itself turns out to be untrustworthy.” The editorial cited a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences that criticized some of the science behind crime lab testimony. The report found that, other than DNA technology, “no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source,” and that, “Substantive information and testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses may have contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people.”  The editorial concluded, “The fallibility of the criminal justice system has been demonstrated again and again. Innocent people have been executed in the past and will be in the future,” and thus people should “support repeal of the death penalty.”  Read full editorial below.

Editorial: Too fallible for death penalty

The case of the crooked crime scene investigator in Douglas County provides another glaring example of why the criminal justice system cannot be trusted to apply the death penalty.

Humans not only make honest mistakes, sometimes they plant evidence and lie.

The conviction of former CSI chief David Kofoed for tampering with the evidence in a double murder case was upheld earlier this month by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Kofoed was convicted for planting a speck of blood in a car belonging to a suspect in the case. His bogus evidence resulted in two innocent men being held in jail for several months. Police even wrung a false confession out of one of them.

Fortunately for the two men, the case against them unraveled before they were tried. DNA evidence found on a ring and marijuana pipe found in the home belonged to a pair of Wisconsin teens. They later pleaded guilty to killing a Murdock couple while looking for money during a road trip.

If you think the Kofoed case is one of a kind, think again.

Just do an Internet search for “crime lab scandal.”

You will be — or should be — appalled at the number of times that crime labs turn out to be providing inaccurate and phony evidence.

The problems crop up in New York, San Francisco, Houston and many points in between. Sometimes the problem is sloppiness. Sometimes technicians are manufacturing evidence deliberately. Sometimes the science itself turns out to be untrustworthy.

Even the vaunted crime lab operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has come under criticism on more than one occasion. In 2004 FBI lab technician Jacqueline Blake admitted to submitting false DNA evidence in 100 cases. FBI metallurgist Kathleen Lundy admitted to lying on the witness stand. To her credit, she admitted her testimony was false before the murder trial was over.

A 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences was harshly critical of some of the science behind crime lab testimony, such as using marks on a bullet to determine whether a bullet came from a certain gun. Other than DNA technology, “no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source,” the report stated.

The report concluded: “Substantive information and testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses may have contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people.”

The fallibility of the criminal justice system has been demonstrated again and again. Innocent people have been executed in the past and will be in the future. If you don’t want blood on your hands, support repeal of the death penalty.