International Death Penalty News 2020, Issue 19: Iran, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, United States of America
May 8, 2020
IDPN 2020 Issue 19
Iran: On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, two prisoners were executed at the central prison in Mashhad, also known as Vakilabad prison. They were not identified by name. They were to be publicly executed, however the men were executed in prison due to the coronavirus epidemic. The two were convicted of “corruption on earth” for the kidnapping and abusing of women.
Thirty-year-old Vahed Rostamzadeh was executed by hanging at Hamadan Central Prison on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Vahed was convicted and sentenced to death on drug related charges. He has been in prison for the last five years.
Mohammad Ali Najafi, the former mayor of Tehran, will not face the death penalty for the murder of his second wife, 35-year-old Mitra Ostad in May 2019. Islamic law allows men to have up to four wives. The family of the victim has received 100 billion rials (approximately $650,000) from Najafi, acquiring the families forgiveness. According to the Islamic criminal code followed in the country, the death penalty can be avoided if the defendant earns the victim’s family forgiveness, usually through a payment of money.
On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, an unnamed man was executed by hanging at a prison in Gonbad Kavus city, in Golestan province. The man was convicted of raping and murdering a four-year-old child in 2015.
Pakistan: Eight men have been released from death row after the Islamabad High Court decided their appeals during the coronavirus lockdown. The appeals have been pending for the last six years. The details of the cases were not released, nor was the reasoning for the death sentences to be overturned. Another death row inmate succeeded in having their sentence reduced to life in prison, while two others had their cases referred back to trial courts for review. During the coronavirus, the Islamabad High Court only considered cases that had been pending for the last six years.
Puerto Rico: Two men, 19-year-old Sean Díaz de León, and 21-year-old Juan Carlos Pagán Bonilla, have been charged with federal hate crimes for the murder of Layla Pelaz, and Serena Angelique Velázquez, both transgender women. Sean has admitted that he wanted to shoot and kill Layla because she told him that she was trans after they had sexual relations. Sean told Juan, who had sexual relations with Serena, that she was transgender, and Sean and Juan agreed to kill the two women when they were driving. They then parked the car under a bridge and set it on fire.
United States of America: On Wednesday, May 8, 2020, Edward Busby, Jr., was scheduled to be executed by the state of Texas. He was granted a 60-day stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, likely due coronavirus pandemic. Forty-seven-year-old Edward is convicted of the kidnapping and murder of 77-year-old Laura Lee Crane on January 30, 2004, in Fort Worth, Texas. His execution has not yet been rescheduled.
On Thursday, April 30, 2020, Jacob Sullivan died while on Pennsylvania’s death row. His cause of death was natural causes. Forty-seven-year-old Jacob was convicted of the rape, murder, and dismemberment of 14-year-old Grace Packer in Quakertown, in 2016. Grace was the daughter of his girlfriend at the time, Sara Packer, who also participated in the murder. She was sentenced to life in prison.
The Ohio Parole Board has recommended by a vote of 6-2, that Governor Mike DeWine commute the death sentence of Gregory Lott to life in prison, without parole. Gregory is convicted of murdering 82-year-old John McGrath during a robbery in his East Cleveland home on July 12, 1986. He was scheduled to be executed in March of this year, however, his execution has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 27, 2021.
It has been announced that prosecutors in Missouri will seek the death penalty against Garland Nelson, who is charged with the murders of brothers Nicholas and Justin Diemel. The brothers were reported missing on July 21, 2019, by their father, when they did not return home from Missouri, where they had gone to collect a $250,000 debt from Nelson. The brothers were shot to death, then their bodies were placed in barrels, burned, and hidden around Nelson’s property. The remains of Nicholas and Justin were found in Missouri and Nebraska.
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