March 18, 2016

IDPN 2016  Issue 12


India: Three men, Nedunchezhian, Ravindran, and Muniappan have had their death sentences reduced to life in prison by the nation’s Supreme Court.  The three men were sentenced to death 16 years ago, when, as college students, they torched a bus, burning to death three female college students: Kokilavani, Gayathri, and Hemalatha.  The deaths occurred during a protest on February 2, 2000.  Several others successfully escaped from the burning bus.  The men successfully argued that the death of the three female students was not pre-meditated.  Instead, it was a spur of the moment decision brought on by the mob frenzy then occurring.  The convicted men did not know the women.


The nation’s Supreme Court has refused to re-examine the constitutional validity of the death penalty in the nation.  Opponents to the death penalty argue that it should be abolished in the nation due to an evolving view of human rights across the globe, many of which now view capital punishment as a violation of human rights.  They also point out that the death penalty is inconsistently applied and can result in the death of an innocent person, which cannot be rectified.


On Thursday, March 17, 2016, the Bombay high court has reduced the death sentence of Mirza Himayat Baig to life in prison.  Mirza has been convicted in the 2010 bombing of a German bakery that killed 17 individuals and injured 58 others, including several foreign nationals.  



Iraq: From March 6 - 13, 2016, at least 20 individual have been executed for a variety of charges, including terrorism.  Several of those executed were from other nations.  Officials have also announced that there are 65-70 other individuals who are ready to be executed, after final approval from judicial authorities.


On Sunday, March 6, 2016, Abdullah Mahmous Sydat was executed in Al-Nasiryah Prison, south of Baghdad.  Abdullah, a Saudi national, was convicted of terrorism after being arrested in 2007.  According to some reports, several other unidentified Iraqi prisoners were executed alongside Abdullah.



Pakistan: On Tuesday, March 15, 2016, Gohar Ali was executed by hanging in Central Jail Sahiwal.  Gohar was convicted of murdering a man during an attempted robbery in 1998.  Hammed Akhtar was scheduled to be executed alongside Gohar, however, Hammed’s execution was postponed when he and the family of the man he killed were able to reach an agreement.



Saudi Arabia:  Hadian al Qahtani became the 72nd individual executed in the kingdom on Sunday, March 13, 2016.  Hadian was executed for the murder of Abdullah Al Qaoud after the two had a dispute.  He was likely executed by beheading.


On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Omar al-Rabie was executed by beheading.  He was convicted of killing fellow Saudi national Ghanem Salem during a dispute between the two men.



United States of America:  Daniel Joseph Blank was scheduled to be executed on Monday, March 14, 2016, in Louisiana.  His execution was stayed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, in part because the state does not have the drugs to carry out the execution.  Daniel is convicted of murdering 41-year-old Victor Rossi, 58-year-old Barbara Bourgeois, 71-year-old Lillian Philippe, 76-year-old Sam Arcuri, 69-year-old Louella Arcuri, and 55-year-old Joan Brock between October 27, 1996, and November 14, 1997.  Click here to read more about Daniel.


Thomas James Meadows was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Pennsylvania.  His execution has been stayed by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Thomas is convicted of murdering James Hayes on March 30, 1984, in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania.  To read more about Thomas, click here.


Ricky Javon Gray was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Virginia.  His execution was stayed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Ricky is convicted of murdering 49-year-old Brian Harvey, his wife 39-year-old Kathryn, and their children, 9-year-old Stella and 4-year-old Ruby on January 1, 2006, in Richmond, Virginia.  Click here to read more about Ricky.


Jeffrey Robert Martin was also scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, March 16, 2016.  Jeffrey’s execution was stayed by the Green County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania.  Jeffrey is convicted of raping and murdering 12-year-old Gabrielle Bechen on June 13, 2006, in Greensboro, Pennsylvania.  To learn more about Jeffrey, click here.


Mark James Asay was scheduled to be executed in Florida on Thursday, March 17, 2016.  His execution was stayed by the Florida Supreme Court, due to Florida’s death penalty sentencing process being found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.  Mark is convicted of murdering Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell on July 18, 1987, in Jacksonville, Florida.  Click here to read more about Mark and his case.


Christopher Lynn Johnson was scheduled to be executed in Pennsylvania on Friday, March 18, 2016.  His execution has been stated by the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.  Christopher is convicted of murdering 31-year-old David L. Grove, a Wildlife Conservation Officer, on November 11, 2010, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  To learn more about Christopher and his case, click here.


Christa Pike, the only female on death row in Tennessee has spent the last 20 years on death row, convicting of torturing and murdering 19-year-old Colleen Slemmer.  A federal court has recently rejected a request to overturn her death sentence, saying Christa does not have grounds for a federal appeal.  Christa has also exhausted all state appeals.


On September 15, 2009, the state of Ohio attempted to executed Romell Broom.  For approximately two hours, the state tried to find a viable vein to use in Romell’s execution.  After 18 attempts to insert a needle, the execution was halted and Romell was returned to cell.  Following that attempt, Romell and his attorneys argued that a second attempt to execute him would violate his 8th Amendment right.  In a 4-3 ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a second attempt would not violate Romell’s rights; Ohio could try again.  Since Romell’s failed execution, Ohio has carried out 21 executions, including the extended execution of Dennis McGuire in 2014, which effectively halted executions in Ohio, until the state created a new execution protocol.  Ohio has executions scheduled out through 2019, although they are currently unable to procure drugs for use in the executions.  Romell has not yet been given a new execution date.


A bill that would shield the names and identities of those who participate in executions in Alabama, including those who supply lethal injection drugs, has overwhelmingly passed in the Alabama House of Representatives.  The Department of Corrections hopes that the passage of the bill will ward off future legal problems to the lethal injection process.  It now proceeds to the Alabama Senate.