February 17, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 07
Iran: On Sunday, February 12, 2017, two prisoners were executed by hanging at Mashhad’s Vakilabad Prison. The two prisoners, who were not named, were both convicted of separate murders in 2007.
On Monday, February 13, 2107, seven unnamed prisoners were executed by hanging at Qom’s Langround Prison. All were executed on drug related charges. A human rights agency has identified one of the executed individuals as Saeed Shokri, who was allegedly denied a retrial and proper appeals.
Also on February 13, three prisoner were executed by hanging at Zabol. Their names and crimes were not reported.
Singapore: In July of 2013, Iskander Rahmat broke into the home of 67-year-old Tan Boon Sin with the intention of stabbing Tan to death and robbing him. During the course of the murder, Tan’s 42-year-old son Chee Heong arrived at the house. Iskander also killed him. Iskander was a police officer at the time, although was facing bankruptcy and dismissal from the police force. Tan and Chee both died from their stab wounds, although Chee managed to escape the house before collapsing in front of Iskander’s escape vehicle. Iskander ran Chee over and dragged his body nearly half a mile before it was dislodged. Iskander has been sentenced to death.
United States of America: Raymond Tibbetts was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, in Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to July 26, 2017. Raymond is convicted of his wife, Judith Sue Crawford, and 67-year-old Fred Hicks on November 6, 1997, inside of Fred’s Cincinnati home, where they all lived. Read more about Raymond, and the ongoing legal problems in Ohio, here.
Ronald Phillips was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, in Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled for May 10, 2017. It is the latest execution date for Ronald, who has had numerous execution dates rescheduled due to ongoing legal challenges to Ohio’s execution protocol. Ronald is convicted of the murdering 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans on January 18, 1993. Read more about Ronald, and the ongoing legal problems in Ohio, here.
In an attempt to comply with the ruling by Magistrate Judge Michael Merz, Ohio has attempted to obtain pentobarbital, which Judge Merz said should be used for lethal injections, instead of the three-drug process proposed by Ohio. Ohio requested pentobarbital from seven states, but none were able to provide the state with drug. Only three of the seven states - Georgia, Missouri, and Texas - currently have supplies of pentobarbital and they will not reveal where they obtained the drug. Judge Merz is opposed to the three-drug process proposed by Ohio because he claims that the first drug, midazolam, has not been proven an effective sedative, however, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled last year that midazolam can be used in executions. Ohio currently has a supply of midazolam and the other two necessary drugs to carry out lethal injections, but cannot, due to Judge Merz’s order. Ohio has appealed to the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Due to Judge Merz’s ruling and the ongoing lawsuit, Ohio has rescheduled many of their executions.
The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, has ruled that prison officials in Missouri are not required to make public the source of the state’s execution drugs. Their ruling overturns the ruling of a lower court. Many news organizations are suing the state, claiming that Missouri is breaking the law by keeping the identities of the suppliers a secret. The Appeals court acknowledges that revealing the identities “could serve as a backdoor means to frustrating the State’s ability to carry out lawful executions by lethal injection.” Many other states have similar laws protecting the identities of those who supply drugs for lethal injections and are facing similar legal problems.
Thirty-nine-year-old Phillip Antwan Davis was sentenced to death in North Caroline in 1997. Phillip has now been re-sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole due to prosecutors unlawfully excluding black jurors from the trial. Phillip originally pled guilty to the 1996 murder of his aunt and her daughter in Asheville, North Carolina. During jury selection for the penalty phase, prosecutors excluded that the only qualified black juror. Prosecutors alleged that she did not take the case seriously because she was wearing a Tweetie Bird t-shirt. Prosecutors also objected to her cross earrings. Currently Buncombe District Attorney Todd Williams agreed with the decision to re-sentence Phillip due to his unfair treatment, but also due to his age at the time of the crime - just 18 - and due to his willingness to plead guilty and accept responsibility.
A bill has been passed in the Alabama House Judiciary Committee which would prevent judges from being able to sentence an inmate to death if the jury had previously recommended life in prison. The bill would also require that all 12 jurors agree to impose the death penalty.
With 50 death penalty cases ready for trial, Florida legislators are scrambling to come up with a law that will pass judicial scrutiny, after their death penalty sentencing process was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Florida Supreme Court later struck down an attempt to fix the sentencing process. The main reason the Florida Supreme Court ruled against the new sentencing process was that it did not require an unanimous jury verdict for the death penalty. Legislators have now passed a bill that would require a jury to unanimously vote for a death sentence.
Vietnam: The nation plans to build five more lethal injection facilities throughout the nation, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Vietnam began carrying out executions by lethal injection in August of 2013, and has executed of 400 inmates since then. The nation will use a three-drug execution process - sodium thiopental (an anesthetic), pancuronium bromide (muscle relaxant), and potassium chloride to stop the heart. There are 22 crimes eligible for the death penalty in the nation, and over 1,100 were sentenced to death in the last five years.