Day: June 1, 2012

Kentucky changing its execution method

June 1, 2012 Source :

Executions in Kentucky could resume later this year after a move Thursday by the state’s Justice Cabinet. The death penalty has been on hold for nearly two years because of questions in part over the injection method used to execute inmates.

Dennis Briscoe has waited a long time for justice since Ralph Baze murdered his father and uncle. The convicted killer has lived on death row for nearly two decades. He’s one of several inmates who has exhausted his appeals and challenged the three-drug injection method as cruel and unusual punishment.

Claims that Kentucky’s three-drug cocktail violates the Eighth Amendment are not new. In 2007 the United States Supreme Court ruled the method constitutional. However that was before other states began using a single-drug system some consider more humane because of problems with the ingredients in the three-drug cocktail.

Debate over the competing methods was a critical factor that led a Franklin Circuit judge to temporarily halt executions across the state. Last month that judge ordered the Department of Corrections to consider a change. Now state officials say they will propose a new system by the end of July. “I’m glad to see a proactive move by the Department of Corrections in order to help fix this situation we have with the death penalty currently,” Briscoe said.

If that new system proposed allows for a single-drug execution, the judge in the case has ruled that any claims of cruel and unusual punishment by inmates will be dismissed. “I’m optimistic now that there’s going to be this recent move, this recent change,” Briscoe said, “However, I’m cautious as well because there could be a whole nother line of arguments.”

Today’s developments could lead to a new system as early as late summer.

TEXAS – 5th Circuit sends death case back to local judge – Anthony Bartee

May 31, 2012 Source :


The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has asked a lower court judge to rule on whether the testing of DNA evidence ordered by the Bexar County district attorney’s office in death row inmate Anthony Bartee‘s case now makes moot Bartee’s claim that the office violated his civil rights.

Bartee, on death row since 1998 for the robbery and shooting death of David Cook, 37, won a stay of execution May 2 just hours before he was set to die by lethal injection.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Fred Biery granted the stay after Bartee’s lawyer, David Dow, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the district attorney’s office, saying they violated Bartee’s rights by not releasing evidence for testing.

The county appealed Biery’s ruling for a stay to the 5th Circuit. However, the county also submitted for testing the evidence Dow sought to have released.

Because of that, the 5th Circuit ruled on Tuesday to send the case back to Biery for the purpose of answering whether the testing makes Bartee’s claim irrelevant.

No information was available on when Biery might rule on the case.

Rico Valdez, with the Bexar County district attorney’s office, said they plan to finish the testing.

No new execution date has been set for Bartee.

TEXAS – Texan gets death penalty in baby sitter slaying – Kimberly Cargill

June 1, 2012 Source :

TYLER, Texas— An East Texas woman has been sentenced to death for the 2010 killing of her mentally challenged baby sitter.

A jury in Tyler on Thursday night decided the penalty for 45-year-old Kimberly Cargill of Whitehouse.

Cargill on May 18 was convicted of capital murder in the death of Cherry Walker.

Walker had faced testifying against Cargill in a child custody dispute. The victim’s burned body was discovered along a road.

Related stories:

Remembering Jack Alderman – the longest serving death row prisoner in the US

May 29, 2012 Source :

Jack Alderman

Sixty-one years ago today, Jack Alderman was born in Savannah, Georgia. On 16 September 2008 he was executed by that same state for a crime he did not commit. By that time, he had spent 33 years on death row, making him the longest serving prisoner awaiting execution in the US.

Based on the testimony of John Arthur Brown – Jack’s neighbour and a known drug addict and alcoholic – Jack was convicted for the murder of his wife Barbara in 1975. Since there was no forensic evidence against him, the District Attorney stated that he “structured the entire case” around Brown’s statement. A few months later, Brown was himself sentenced to death after claiming that he and Jack killed Barbara together. This was later commuted to a life sentence – a result of a deal struck between Brown and the prosecutors – and he was freed after 12 years. Always maintaining his innocence, Jack lost several appeals, and remained on death row until his death five years ago.

During his 33 years on death row, Jack gained the respect of his fellow prisoners, guards, and even the prison administration, for his peacemaking abilities within the prison community. Along with Reprieve, hundreds of individuals, faith-based organizations, and even supporters of capital punishment, advocated for his clemency.

There was a glimmer of hope on the day of his execution – a judge ordered a stay until the State Board of Patrons and Paroled had granted a “meaningful” hearing, where Jack’s legal team and witnesses could have an opportunity to appeal for clemency. Sadly, the Board – the same which offered parole to Brown – denied clemency, and Jack was executed by lethal injection just a few hours later.

Refusing to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit, Jack consistently stated until the end: “I would rather die than lie to save myself.” The horribly unfair nature of this case shows how a system created to do justice may very easily end up killing innocent people.