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Execution warrant sought for Nevada death row inmate Zane Floyd


As lawmakers weigh the future of capital punishment in Nevada, Clark County prosecutors plan to seek a warrant of execution for a death row inmate.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, deputies from District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s appellate division could ask a judge to sign the paperwork for Zane Floyd in the coming weeks.

The 45-year-old Floyd was convicted of killing four people and wounding another inside a Las Vegas supermarket in June 1999.

The Review-Journal reports that Floyd’s federal appeals were exhausted last November. However, a bill introduced in the state Assembly would make Nevada the 24th state to abolish the death penalty and the sentences of 70 men on Death Row would be commuted to life in prison. 

Zane Floyd

Texas’ highest criminal court tosses death sentence of Raymond Riles, state’s longest-serving death row inmate


Riles has been deemed mentally incompetent for execution repeatedly in his decades on death row.

April 14, 2021

Raymond Riles has been on Texas’ death row longer than anyone else, first sent there in 1976. Despite several execution dates being set, he has repeatedly been deemed mentally incompetent to be put to death, instead lingering on the row and the prison’s psychiatric units for more than 45 years. At one point, he set himself on fire and was hospitalized for months.

Raymond Riles

On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals tossed his death sentence.

The state court sent his case back to Harris County to again determine his punishment because the jury wasn’t instructed to weigh his mental illness when deciding between a punishment of life in prison or death. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which supported tossing the sentence, did not immediately respond to questions Wednesday as to whether the office would again seek the death penalty. His conviction of capital murder is not changed.

Death penalty data might surprise you


April 13, 2021

For some, an “eye for an eye” is justice. To others, it makes the whole world blind.

Last month, Virginia became the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty, and first to do so in the South — where four times more people are executed than the rest of the U.S. combined. That’s a big change for a state second only to Texas in executions since 1976.

American public opinion is increasingly turning against the death penalty.

A 2020 Gallup Poll found 55 percent of Americans support the death penalty in general, down from a peak of 80 percent in 1994. And for the first time, a majority (60 percent) say life imprisonment without parole is a better punishment for murder than execution.

Seventy percent of nations have ended the practice (although 60 percent of the world’s population live in death penalty nations), according to Amnesty International.

Unlike other issues, this doesn’t fall perfectly along party lines. While Democrats are less likely to support the death penalty over a life sentence, Gallup surveys show the percentage of Republicans who feel the same increased 10 points since 2016. Reasons for opposition are complicated, spanning generational, statistical, and moral grounds.

Fewer executions. According to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 2010 and 2020 death sentences imposed nationwide numbered fewer than half of the decade before. Some states such as California have it on the books, but rarely use it or have a moratorium now.

Generational shift. The death penalty is one of those issues with an age divide. Gallup polls indicate Americans between 18 and 34 support the death penalty at almost half the rate (24 percent) of their older peers (40 percent).

Racial justice. Young adults also tend to be more passionate about racial justice, especially when it’s so final. A 1990 U.S. Government Accountability Office study found defendants of any race who murdered white people were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered Black people.

Recent studies reported in the New York Times and The Monitor Weekly came to similar conclusions. Latinos, Native Americans and the poor are also disproportionately represented on death row. (A long history of race-dissimilar treatment in the justice system for other crimes was echoed in the oft-cited book, “The New Jim Crowe.”)

Debates in the legislature noted of nearly 1,400 people Virginia executed since 1608, it wasn’t until 1997 that a white man was executed for killing a Black man.

What if they’re innocent? Justice is earnest, but fallible. An average of four people on death row each year in the U.S. are exonerated. History has uncovered others who were exonerated too late. You don’t have to be young to feel the heartbreak in that.

Life in prison is cheaper. Because of high costs associated with capital trials and statutory appeals, life incarceration costs states less than execution. Virginia expects to save $4 million per year. Capital trials may also be more taxing on victims’ families, typically lasting up to four times longer than non-capital trials.

After two Idaho death-row inmates were released from prison in one year, Idaho’s bipartisan Joint Legislative Oversight Committee studied cases between 1998 and 2013. Their 2014 report concluded Idaho death penalty trials take an average seven months longer than non-capital murder trials, and appeals took about 50 percent longer.

Of the 251 defendants charged with first-degree murder during that period, 16 percent faced the death penalty and less than 3 percent received it. Of 40 sentenced to death in Idaho since 1977, three have been executed (21 got a new sentence on appeal). The JLOC reported other states had results similar to Idaho’s.

“Pro-life” consistency. Some conservatives oppose capital punishment on religious or moral grounds. Republican legislators in red states such as Wyoming, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Missouri have sponsored legislation to abolish it. Pro-life, they reason, applies to every life, not just the innocent unborn. And as death can’t be undone, life’s too precious (or constitutionally protected) to risk a mistake, they say.

Still, Republican majorities remain strongly in favor. Supporters say the death penalty is a just punishment for murder. And while life in prison can feel like a kind of hell, execution is seen as the only way to ensure the convicted will never kill again.

Is it a deterrent? Logic would presume yes, but states with death penalties don’t have lower crime rates. FBI Uniform Crime Report data culled by Deathpenaltyinfo.org indicate murder rates per population in death penalty states were consistently higher than in non-death penalty states between 1990 (4 percent higher) and 2018 (30 percent higher).

Do victims’ families want it? Numbers aside, closure and healing for victims’ families is high priority. Individual circumstances make it hard to gauge. Some ask prosecutors not to seek the death penalty — including a group of victims’ families who lobbied the Virginia Legislature to abolish it. Yet others vehemently want it, saying it’s the only way they can feel closure.

A 2012 study of 40 families by the universities of Texas and Minnesota found families in life-without-parole cases reported being able to move on sooner than those in the death-sentence cases. The death penalty case families said they felt continually retraumatized by the longer process.

Psychological and sociological research on closure suggests the legal process in general isn’t a reliable source to achieve it either way. It can feel symbolic and reassuring to seek justice, but the law doesn’t allow much room for emotion (Bandes, 2008).

This shifting trend is yet another illustration of American society’s impassioned debate with itself. Maybe we aren’t so “hopelessly divided” as we are experiencing growing pains in a rapidly shifting world.

Copiah County man convicted of capital murder will remain on death row


David Dickerson was convicted for the murder of Paula Hamilton in 2012.

A Copiah County man will remain on death row.

The State Supreme Court denied the appeal of 51-year-old David Dickerson. He was convicted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Paula Hamilton, who was the mother of his daughter.

Mississippi justices reject latest appeal in death row case | WJTV
Dickerson was convicted in 2012 for shooting Paula Hamilton to death and setting her body on fire in Copiah County.
Paula Hamilton

Dickerson shot Hamilton to death and then burned her body. He was convicted of capital murder in 2012.

Dickerson appealed his conviction and death sentence based upon an alleged intellectual disability.

In a mental evaluation, Dickerson was ruled mentally competent to stand trial and doctors said he had no credible symptoms of mental illness according to court documents.

The doctors also said Dickerson was uncooperative and fabricated psychiatric symptoms. His appeal was denied Thursday.

Governor Issues Reprieve For Three Ohio Death Row Inmates


April, 9 2021

Three Ohio death row inmates will not be executed this year as planned.

Governor Mike DeWine has issued a reprieve for Timothy Hoffner, John David Stumpf and Lawrence Landrum. The three were supposed to be executed on different dates this summer and fall.

But DeWine says he’s postponing them due to ongoing problems with getting the supply of drugs used for lethal injections. The three men’s execution dates are reset for the summer and fall of 2024.

TEXAS EXECUTION UPDATE Ramiro Felix Gonzales execution rescheduled


April 12, 2021

Ramiro Felix Gonzales was scheduled to be executed at 6 pm local time, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. His execution has been rescheduled to November 17, 2021.  Thirty-eight-year-old Ramiro is convicted of the murder of 19-year-old Bridget Townsend on January 15, 2001, in Bandera, Texas.  Ramiro has spent the last 14 years on Texas’ death row.

While pregnant with him, Ramiro’s mother allegedly used drugs and then abandoned him after his birth. Ramiro was primarily raised by his grandmother and was allegedly sexually abused by a male relative. He dropped out of school after the seventh grade and was using drugs and alcohol regularly by the age of 12. Prior to his arrest, he worked as a welder and a fence builder.

In 2003, Ramiro Gonzales was in Bandera County jail awaiting transport to a prison, after being convicted of abducting and raping a woman. While waiting, Gonzales asked to speak with Sheriff James MacMillian. Gonzales told the Sheriff that he had information about Bridget Townsend, a teenager who had disappeared two years earlier. Initially, the Sheriff did not believe Gonzales, but when Gonzales offered to take the Sheriff to the location of Bridget’s body, the Sheriff became interested.

Sitting in the passenger seat, Gonzales directed the Sheriff to a ranch where Gonzales lived with his family, but they did not stop at the ranch. They continued driving over jeep trails to a remote cedar-covered hillside. Gonzales, the Sheriff, and a jail administrator exited the vehicle. During the 100 yard walk to Bridgett’s remains, Gonzales described the jewelry she had been wearing, wear she had been standing when he shot her, and where he had put the body. A human skull, along with other bones, were found close to the location where Gonzales claimed to have shot her. The bones had been slightly scattered by wildlife.

During the drive back to the jail, Gonzales gave conflicting stories about the night when Bridget was shot. Initially, Gonzales blamed the Mexican Mafia and Bridget’s boyfriend, Joe Leal, saying they hired him. Then he claimed that he and Joe had agreed to kill Bridget. The conflicting stories continued once they returned to the jail. Finally, Gonzales confessed that all his previous stories were lies and that he was solely responsible for Bridget’s death. This version, for which he gave a signed confession, matched the evidence that was discovered during the investigation.

Joe Leal had been Gonzales’ drug dealer. On January 14, 2001, Gonzales had phoned Joe’s house to obtain more drugs. Bridget answered the phone, saying Joe was at work. Gonzales, knowing Bridget was at the house, decided to drive over and steal some cocaine. Gonzales pushed his way past Bridget after she answered the door. He continued to ignore Bridget while her stole between $150 and $500 in cash.

When Bridget began calling Joe, Gonzales dragged her into a bedroom and tied her up. He asked if Joe had any drugs in the house. When she responded negatively, he took her out to this truck, pausing to turn out the lights so that they would not be spotted. Gonzales drove back to the ranch, stopping to pick up his grandfather’s .243 caliber deer rifle.

Gonzales confessed that he had planned to shoot Bridget so that no one would know he had robbed Joe, nor that he had kidnapped Bridget. Gonzales drove Bridget to the spot where her remains were later found. Gonzales forced Bridget to walk towards the brush as he began loading the rifle. Bridget promised money, drugs, or sex if Gonzales would spare her life. Gonzales unloaded the weapon, and took her back to the truck to assault her; after which, he, again, took her into the brush and shot her.

Gonzales then returned home and interacted with his family as though nothing was wrong. He had returned to the weapon to where he retrieved it and flung the empty shell casing away from the house. Gonzales also denied, multiple times, seeing Bridget that night or visiting Joe’s house.

During Gonzales’ trial, a women who he had kidnapped and raped, testified that she believed she would have been killed if she had not managed to escape.

This is not Ramiro Gonzales’ first scheduled execution date. He has had at least two previous executions dates that were stayed for unknown reasons.  According to the online execution calendar provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Ramiro’s execution date has been rescheduled.  No reason has been provided for the date change.

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Bridget. Please pray for strength for the family of Ramiro. Pleas pray that if Ramiro is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Ramiro will come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.

OHIO – Death penalty stays on table for Bryant


March 21, 2021

Faces trial in murder of 4-year-old boy

A judge denied a defense request that possibility of the death penalty be removed from the aggravated murder charge Kimonie D. Bryant faces in the shooting death of Rowan Sweeney, 4.

Bryant also is charged in the attempted murder of four adults.

Attorneys for Bryant, 24, of Struthers, filed a motion seeking dismissal of the death penalty and made oral arguments during a hearing before Judge Anthony D’Apolito in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Bryant is accused of killing Rowan on Sept. 21, 2020, at the home Rowan shared with his mother and her boyfriend on Perry Street in Struthers. Bryant also is charged in the shootings of Rowan’s mother and three other adults who were there.

D’Apolito has been holding monthly hearings in the case and plans to continue to do so up to the Sept. 13 trial date.

He denied the defense’s request this week.

In their defense filing, attorneys for Bryant noted that this murder is “not a popular case” in that it involves the killing of a 4-year-old, which has prompted “Justice for Rowan” yard signs in Struthers and elsewhere.

“But the job of the lawyers and (judge) is the same in this and every case: to do the job effectively, objectively and without regard to personalities.”

It adds: “If someone else entered the home and did the shooting, as was testified to at the bindover hearing of Brandon Crump, then death would be an unjust penalty.”

Authorities have described Crump, 18, who is charged with aggravated robbery connected to the incidents that resulted in Rowan’s death, as a co-defendant of Bryant. He is not accused of shooting anyone.

Law enforcement officials have not specified how Crump’s alleged robbery is connected to the shootings, but Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains said at the time Bryant was indicted that investigators believe about $5,000 in cash was in the home at the time of the shootings.

After Bryant is accused of fleeing from the home, the cash on the coffee table was gone, Gains said.

Judge Theresa Dellick of Mahoning County Juvenile Court has bound over Crump’s case to adult court, meaning he will be tried as an adult if a grand jury indicts him. Crump was originally charged in juvenile court because he was 17 at the time of Rowan’s death.

The filing says that when the death penalty was “reinvented” in the 1970s after being “invalidated” in most states in a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision, state legislatures sought to “rake in political capital that executing people yields.”

The filing called Ohio’s death penalty statute “vague and unconstitutional” and asked D’Apolito to remove the death penalty from Bryant’s indictment.

The filing argues that courts that have “rebuffed constitutional challenges to the death penalty have (strayed from) the concept of limited government ordained by the Constitution.”

Ohio’s death-penalty statute fails to genuinely narrow the class of individuals who are eligible for the death penalty, the filing states. “By failing to do so, the statute permits arbitrary and capricious imposition of the death penalty.”

Conviction, death penalty upheld of Oklahoman in beheading


March 18, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of man in the beheading of a co-worker in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.

The court rejected claims that Alton Alexander Nolen, 36, was mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial in addition to improper jury selection, improper photographic evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.

Nolen’s defence attorneys did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

Nolen was convicted and sentenced to death in for the 2014 beheading of 54-year-old Colleen Hufford at Vaughan Foods.

Prosecutors said Nolen killed Hufford and wounded another co-worker after being suspended from his job at the plant for making threatening statements to co-workers.

The suspect in the Atlanta-area shootings could face the death penalty


March 18, 2021

robert aaron long

  • Robert Long, 21, was charged with eight counts of murder by Georgia prosecutors Wednesday.
  • Eight people, six of whom were Asian, were killed at three Atlanta massage parlours on Tuesday.
  • Long said he did it to remove sexual temptation but prosecutors are considering hate crime charges.

The suspect in Tuesday night’s Atlanta-area shootings could meet the threshold for receiving the death penalty under Georgia law.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Robert Aaron Long, 21, with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault after shootings took place at three massage parlors across the city area.

In a press conference on Wednesday, law enforcement officials said that Long admitted to carrying out the attacks. However, he has yet to enter a plea to the charges.

He is due to appear in court Thursday, where he may issue a plea but does not have to.

If Long is ultimately convicted, the charges open him to Georgia’s death penalty. Prosecutors would have to choose whether to pursue it, and so far have not discussed the matter in public.

Robert Long Georgia Shooting
Security footage released by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office in Georgia shows the 21-year-old suspect, Robert Long, getting into a car. Cherokee Sheriff’s Office

Under title 17 of the 2010 Georgia Code, most murders do not qualify for punishment by death.

But if one of 11 criteria are met, then it can be considered. They are listed here by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which also reported that Long could face the death penalty.

Some of the criteria – such as if the offender was on the run from prison, or if the victim was a police officer – appear not to apply. Others are broader, such as if the killings took place during another crime, or using a particularly dangerous weapon.

In Georgia, the death penalty is carried out by lethal injection. As of January, 39 men and one woman were on death row, state Department of Corrections data shows.

Out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night, six were Asian women, meaning prosecutors are deciding whether to charge Long with a hate crime, The Atlanta Journal Constitution and 11Alive reported.

Long told law enforcement that race did not play a part in the attack, saying instead that he was a sex addict and wanted to remove temptation.

“During his interview, he gave no indicators that this was racially motivated,” Frank Reynolds, Cherokee County Sheriff, said Wednesday.

“We asked him that specifically and the answer was no.”

The attack on Tuesday is the latest in a series which indicates attacks on Asian Americans in the US is on the rise.

As of Thursday morning, four of the Atlanta-area victims had been identified: Xiaojie Tan, 49, Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, Paul Andre Michels, 54, and Daoyou Feng, 44.

David Barkley, senior Southeast counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, told the AJC: “We would urge the local prosecutor to bring hate crime charges along with the other charges.”

#JusticeForPervisPayne: Tennessee man on death row was convicted using ‘racial stereotypes’, says Internet


March 17, 2021

Pervis Payne, who has an intellectual disability, has spent 32 years on death row in Tennessee.


                            #JusticeForPervisPayne: Tennessee man on death row was convicted using 'racial stereotypes', says Internet

On TikTok and Twitter, #JusticeForPervis has been trending in an attempt to raise awareness Pervis Payne’s innocence. Payne is scheduled to be executed on April 9 by the state of Tennessee.

Payne has been on death row for 32 years for the murder of Charisse Christopher and her two-year-old daughter in June 1987. Payne, as per the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal organization that is committed to exonerating individuals who it claims have been wrongly convicted, has always maintained his innocence. Payne has consistently said he did not commit this crime and that he was an innocent bystander who happened to be at the crime scene and tried to help.