Saturday, July 20, 2024
IDPN 2024

International Death Penalty News 2024, Issue 15: China, Iran, Taiwan, Uganda, United States of America, Vietnam

International Death Penalty NewsIn 2021, the age of criminal responsibility was lowered from 14 to 12 for “special cases.” Now, three minors between the age of 12 and 14, will be tried for murdering another child. The three minors are accused of bullying a middle-school classmate for some time before eventually killing the classmate in March 2024. They then buried the victim’s body in a greenhouse. Under Chinese law, if convicted, they could be sentenced to death.

On Friday, April 5, 2024, 30-year-old Hassan Ali Mirzania was executed in Khorramabad Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. Hassan was arrested about four years ago for murdering two brothers with a hunting rifle. Under Iranian law, all killings are considered intentional murder, and mitigating is rarely considered. After conviction, the family of the victims chooses if the inmate will be forgiven, forced to pay diya (blood money), or is sentenced to qisas. State officials and the media have not yet reported his execution.

Members of the Chinese Nationalist Party are calling for an amendment to the Criminal Code, which would give the death penalty or life in prison to anyone convicted of child abuse, which leads to the death of the child. Currently, the law permits a sentence of 5-10 years, depending on the severity of the injuries to the child. The new law would apply to offenses against children six and younger. It also proposes tougher sentences for those convicted of child abuse where the child is not killed.

On Wednesday, April 3, 2024, a constitutional court upheld a law that permits the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” Aggravated homosexuality includes cases of same-sex relations where one person is a minor, or another type of vulnerable person, or when one of the individuals involved has HIV. The law also permits attempted aggravated homosexuality to be punishable by 14 years in prison, and attempted homosexuality is punishable by 10 years in prison.

On Tuesday, April 9, 2024, Missouri executed Brian Dorsey. He was 52 years of age. Brian was convicted of murdering Ben and Sarah Bonnie in New Bloomfield, Missouri on December 23, 2006. The execution was carried out shortly after 6 pm local time.

On Tuesday, April 9, 2024, the Senate in Tennessee approved a bill that would permit the death penalty for those convicted of raping a child. Seven other states have passed similar laws, which challenge a 2008 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States. The 2008 ruling found a Louisiana law that permitted the death penalty for those convicted of raping a child that did not lead to their deaths unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, April 10, 2024, the trial against Chad Daybell began in Idaho. Chad is accused of murdering his wife, Tammy Daybell, and the two youngest children, seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, of his girlfriend. If convicted, Chad could be sentenced to death. The trial is expected to take at least 10 weeks.

A death row inmate in Alabama is seeking to have his execution carried out. Thirty-six-year-old Derrick Dearman, who was convicted of murdering five people, including a pregnant woman, eight years ago, is asking that an execution date be scheduled for him. Dearman is seeking to halt all his appeals. He sent mailed letters to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall, as well as the judges and others involved in the case. Dearman eventually turned himself in to the police and confessed to his crime. He ultimately pled guilty at his trial and was sentenced to death. Alabama is one of a few states to permit execution by nitrogen gas, and is the only state to have carried out an execution using this method, however, Dearman has elected to be executed by lethal injection.

All parties have agreed that favorable evidence was withheld from attorneys for Texas death row inmate Melissa Lucio. Lucio is convicted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Mariah Alvarez, however, Lucio has insisted that she is innocent claiming her daughter died after falling down the steps. The withheld evidence includes a report by Child Protective Services, which included statements by her children insisting that Lucio had never struck her children or behaved abusively. The report also had information detailing the time between Mariah’s fall and her death, which included Lucio’s worry and concern. The report and the police investigation also had differing timelines of when the child was injured. Shortly before Lucio’s scheduled 2022 execution, she received a stay, as it was determined this withheld evidence would likely have affected the outcome of her trial.

In 1996, Richard Allen Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and murdering 12-year-old Polly Klaas in Petaluma, California. Now, Davis is attempting to have his death sentence overturned. His appeal is based on a new law, which went into effect in 2022. The new law invalidates some sentences where individuals were convicted of nonviolent and drug crimes. Prosecutors claim that granting Davis a new penalty trial is outside the intentions of the law. There is currently a moratorium on executions in California, which last carried out an execution in 2006.

Sixty-three-year-old Raul Meza, Jr., is offering to return to prison for 50 years in order to avoid a possible death sentence in Texas. Meza spent about 10 years in prison for murdering a 10-year-old girl before he was released in 1993 for good behavior. He was initially sentenced to 30 years in prison. Now, prosecutors have connected him, through his confession, to two other murders, that of Gloria Lofton in 2019, and that of 80-year-old Jesse Fraga in 2023. Prosecutors also suspect and are investigating 10 other unsolved murders they think may be connected to Meza. Meza has agreed to enter a plea and return to prison in exchange for avoiding trial and a possible death sentence. Families of the victims are asking prosecutors to proceed with the trial and reject the deal.

On Thursday, April 11, 2024, 67-year-old Truong My Lan was sentenced to death by the courts. Lan, the chairwoman of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, was found guilty of embezzlement, bribery, and violations of banking rules. She was arrested in October 2022. Since her arrest, she has denied the charges against her and blamed subordinates for what occurred. The scandal adversely affected about 42,000 individuals. Eight-five other people were also arrested in the scandal. Lan can appeal her sentence.

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