September 1, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 35
Iran: A court has sentenced to death political prisoner Mohammad Ali Taheri. Mohammad is convicted of “founding a cult,” and “spreading corruption on earth.” This is the third time he has stood trials for such charges. Although he previously received prison terms, he was never released after serving, but charged of other crimes.
On Wednesday, August 23, 2017, Seyed Jamal Seye Mousavi was executed by hanging at Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison. Seyed, a Sunni prisoner, was executed for “enmity against god through cooperation with Salafi groups.”
On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, Fardin Hosseini and Massoud Vaizadeh were executed by hanging at Ardabil Central Prison. Both were executed on drug related charges.
Israel: A military court has convicted five family members of failing to stop a terrorist who killed three Israelis in a Halamish settlement last month. The family members were convicted of failing to prevent the attack. The family members of the terrorist knew of the planned attack but did not inform security forces would could have worked to prevent the attack. All three family members were sentenced to various prisons terms of less than one year.
Malaysia: Twenty-eight-year-old Daphne Phang Mei Kei has been spared execution after being deemed mentally unfit. Daphne is convicted of killing her 22-month-year-old daughter, Evan, in 2015. Daphne threw Evan on the floor after become upset with her constant crying for milk. Evan died later that day. Older injuries were also found on the toddler’s body. Daphne has been sent to a psychiatric hospital.
Philippines: Forty-three-year-old Toshihiko Iwama, a Japanese national, has been sentenced to death for murdering 32-year-old Shinsuke Toba in October of 2014, and 42-year-old Tatsuya Nakamura in August/September 2015. Both were murdered in a similar fashion and for money. Toshihiko was a large shareholder in each of the victim’s respective companies. An accomplice of Toshihiko was sentence to life in prison.
Singapore: Beginning on September 1, 2017, a new law will go into effect in the nation which will make it allege to possess radioactive material or any nuclear explosive devices with the intention to cause harm. Any person who violates this law can be convicted of terrorism and face a mandatory death sentence.
United States of America: On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, Steven Long was scheduled to be executed in Texas. His execution was stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after concerns arose regarding Steven’s lethal competency. Steven is convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering 11-year-old Kaitlyn Smith on May 21, 2005. Read more about Steven’s case and his stay of execution here.
Officials in Ohio have announced that their plans to move death row inmates to another prison have been cancelled. This would have been the third move in under a decade. Instead of moving the death row population, Ohio has shifted their population strategies. Ohio is attempting to reduce inmate density and crowding in high security prisons. Instead of moving death row inmates, the state moved other high-security inmates. There has also been an increase in the number of guards at high-security prisons. One death row inmate committed subsided earlier this year due in part to the scheduled move.
Jason McGehee was scheduled to be executed earlier this year in Arkansas. A federal judged halted his execution after the Arkansas Parole Board recommended that Governor Asa Hutchinson grant Jason clemency. Now, Governor Hutchinson has indicated that he will follow the advice of the parole board and commuted Jason’s death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jason is convicted of beating to death 15-year-old Johnny Melbourne, Jr. Read more about Jason’s case here.
John Valerio was convicted and sentenced to death in Nevada in 1988. Nearly three decades later, he has been resented to life in prison. John is convicted of murdering 26-year-old Karen Blackwell in Las Vegas, Nevada in September 1986, by stabbing her at least 45 times. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his sentence, when they determined that the instructions to the jury were not clear enough. During a re-sentencing hearing, John was re-sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
Earlier this year, Aramis Ayala, the Orange-Osceola State Attorney, announced that she would not pursue the death penalty for any case. Her announcement resulted in Florida Governor Rick Scott removing her from 29 cases first-degree murder cases that qualify for the death penalty. Aramis argued that removing her from the cases was illegal. The Florida Supreme Court, however, by a vote of 5-2, ruled that Governor Scott was legally allowed to remove her from the cases. Since the ruling, Aramis has announced that she will create a panel of lawyers that will determine if the death penalty should be sought in first-degree murder cases that occur in her district.
As California works to resume executions in the state, correctional officials have asked that state regulators approve a new execution method. The new regulations would allow death row inmates to be executed using one of two different drugs or the gas chamber. The recent ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 66, ends the requirement that state regulators must approve the execution method, however, until that ruling becomes final, correctional officials will continues to seek their approval. Officials have reported that there are 18 men on death row in the state who have completed their appeals process. California has the largest death row in the nation.