April 6, 2018
IDPN 2018 Issue 14
China: Fifty-three-year-old serial killer Gao Chengyong, dubbed “Jack the Ripper,” has been sentenced to death for murdering 11 female victims between May 1988 and February 2002. The youngest victim was just eight years old. The victims were robbed, raped, and mutilated in northwestern Gansu Province and the neighboring Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Gao has confessed to the crime and does not plan to appeal his sentence. DNA testing linked him to the crimes in August 2016.
Iraq: Six Turkish women have been sentenced to death for being a member of the terrorist group, the Islamic State. A seventh individual has been sentenced to life in prison. The women allege that they entered the country to be with their husbands. They later surrendered to Kurdish fighters after the Islamic State began to fall.
Kuwait: An unidentified Lebanese man and his wife were convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Joanna Demafelis, a Filipino domestic helper. Her body was discovered in the freezer of the couple’s abandoned home. The couple was convicted in absentia.
Mongolia: President Khaltmaa Buttugla wants to allow the death penalty for crimes against children, namely sexual abuse. In 2012, Mongolia issued a moratorium on capital punishment. Now, the president wants to restore capital punishment for child abusers. This is due in part to the large number of child molestation cases reported in the last year. A bill has been submitted before parliament.
Nigeria: Delta State Governor, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has agreed to the commutation of 30 individuals on death row and to the total pardon of five inmates serving various prison terms. Governor Okowa has previously stated that he wants to better the lives of those he governors, including prisoners. To that end, he has established various rehabilitation programs including skill acquisition trainman and other empowerment programs.
Pakistan: Ten terrorists have been sentenced to death for the murder 62 individuals and other heinous crimes. The death sentences have been approved by Pakistan Army chief. The terrorists were identified as Muhammad Ishaq, Muhammad Rafique, Muhammad Arish, Habibur Rehman, Muhammad Fayaz, Ismail Shah, Muhammad Fazal, Hazrat Ali, Muhammad Asim and Habibullah.
Saudi Arabia: An unidentified overseas Filipino worker has been spared the death penalty in Saudi Arabia and returned to the Philippines. The worker was described as an “unwitting drug mule.” The Philippine consulate worked to help return her to the Philippines. She was arrested in 2013, after being found carrying illegal drugs in the luggage she was transporting for a representative of her deployment agency.
Thailand: On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, the Krabi Provincial Court gave death sentences to six men who were convicted of a village massacre which killed seven. Three others were injured in the attack. The massacre occurred over a land dispute. The last execution in the nation occurred over 10 years ago.
United States of America: Norman Grim and Samuel Smithers have each had their convictions and death sentences upheld by the Florida Supreme Court. Norman is convicted of murdering Cynthia Campbell in 1998, while Samuel was convicted of murdering Cristy Cowan and Denise Roach in 1996. They were appealing their sentences due to issues related with the Hurst v. Florida case, which found Florida’s death sentencing procedure unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court later ruled on a related case that stated Florida juries had to unanimously agree on a death sentence. Norman and Samuel were each convicted by unanimous juries and both had their sentences upheld.
Willie Simmons, aka Ecclesiastical Denzel Washington, a former death row inmate in Missouri, has had his death sentence reduced to life in prison after successfully arguing that being forced to breath in second-hand smoke, as an asthmatic, is cruel and unusual punishment. As a result of this ruling, on April 1, 2018 (not an April Fool’s Day prank) all prisons in Missouri became tobacco free, including eliminating chewing tobacco and vaping. Guards and visitors are also required to follow the new rules. Instead of prisons selling tobacco products, they have been, and will continue to sell nicotine patches and offer smoking cessation classes. Opponents argue that this dehumanizes the inmates, however Missouri is not the first state to ban tobacco; Kansas and the federal government has also banned the use of tobacco products in their prisons. Washington, the cause of the change, has been transferred out of state for his protection.
Michael R. Manley and David D. Stevenson are the last two inmates on Delaware’s death row. Their sentences have now been commuted to life in prison. The Delaware Supreme Court found the state’s death penalty unconditional on August 2, 2016. At the time, Delaware’s law was similar to Florida’s law. Unlike Florida, however, Delaware legislatures did not rewrite the state’s death penalty sentencing procedures and all inmates that were on death row have now been removed and resentenced. It has been over 20 years since Delaware last carried out an execution.