November 18, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 47
China: On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, Jia Jinglong was executed in Shijiazhuang. He was 29 years of age. Jia is convicted of killing the 55-year-old village chief with an adapted nail gun in 2015. Jia was a former farmer who killed the Communist party official after Jia’s home was demolished on the eve of his wedding, causing his fiancee to call off the wedding. Jia never denied the murder, but sought to portray himself as the victim.
Egypt: Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, no longer faces execution. He was sentenced to death for his part in a mass jail break during the 2011 uprising in the nation. A court has ordered that Morsi be retried. Morsi still has three lengthy prison terms to serve.
Iran: On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, six individuals were executed by hanging. One unnamed individual was publicly executed in Chalmeh Sang village near Mashhad in northeastern Iran. The remaining five were executed in Kerman Prison in Southern Iran. Their crimes were not reported.
On Sunday, November 13, 2016, at least nine prisoners were executed by hanging. Three prisoners were executed at Rasht’s Lankan Prison in northern Iran, while six others were executed at Urmia’s Darya Prison in northwester Iran. Two of the individuals executed at Lankan Prison were convicted on drug related charges, while the third was convicted of murder. All three were not named. The six prisoners executed at Darya Prison were identified as Karam Gholizadeh, Mohkoom Ayjak, Aref Esmeili, Nasser Hosseini, Farrokh Abdini, and Javad Asghari. All were convicted on drug related charges.
Six unnamed prisoners were executed in Orumiyeh Prison in northwestern Iran over the weekend (the exact date is unknown). One of the executed individuals was identified as an Army officer. Their crimes were not reported.
Kuwait: In order to more effectively fight crime and terrorism, lawmakers have lowered the juvenile age from 18 years of age to 16 years of age. The new law will take effect starting in January and means that individuals as young as 16 could be sentenced to death. Those under the age of 16 would receive lesser sentences. In preparation for this new law, teenagers are being warned of the dangers of using social media sites and surfing the web.
Nigeria: It has been reported that Otokoto Chief Vincent Duru was executed by hanging. Duru was sentenced to death in 1996 for the brutal murder of a young boy. Duru’s son, Obicheozor, was also arrested and convicted of the crime. Obicheozor has already been executed.
Singapore: Thirty-eight-year-old Nigerian national Chijioke Stephen Obioha was executed on Friday, November 18, 2016, at Changi Prison Complex. He was executed on drug related charges. Chijioke chose not to ask to be considered for re-sentencing, which could have reduced his sentence to life in prison. Thirty-one-year-old Malaysian Devendran Supramaniam was also executed on Friday. He was also executed on drug related charges. Devendran petitioned the president for clemency, but his request was rejected.
Uganda: Pte Philip Igama has been released from death row in the nation. Igama has spent the last 15 years on death row at Luzira Maximum Prison. He had previously been convicted of killing a fellow soldier. Igama was released when a General Court Martial ruled that they did not feel the prosecution had proven their case.
United States of America: On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, Steven Frederick Spears was executed by the state of Georgia. Steven was 54 years of age. He was convicted of the murder of Sherri Holland, a former girlfriend, in Daholnega, Georgia, in August 2001. Steven chose not to appeal his conviction or sentenced. He was pronounced dead at 7:30 pm EST, inside the execution chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. Read more about Steven and his crime here.
In 2007, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes broke into the home of Dr. William Petit in Cheshire, Connecticut. The doctor, his wife, and two daughters were home at the time. William was beaten and left for dead in the basement. He managed to escape to a neighbor’s home and call the police. His wife was raped and strangled to death. His two daughters were sexually assaulted, tied to their beds, and burned alive. The two men responsible for this horrific crime were convicted and sentenced to death. However, when Connecticut recently banned the death penalty, Joshua and Steven had their death sentences reduced to life in prison. Dr. Petit, a Republican, has recently been elected to the state House of Representatives. He has announced that he has no intention of attempting to revitalize the death penalty in the state.
On November 8, 2016, California voters voted to not only retain the death penalty in the state, but also to speed up the appeals process so that inmates would not spend decades on death row before their executions - if their executions even happen. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has filed a lawsuit in protest, claiming that the proposition supported by the majority of voters goes against state law. The lawsuit further explains that the new proposition gives too much power to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation when it comes to developing execution procedures instead of the legislators. California’s last execution occurred in 2006. There are currently 16 inmates, out of approximately 750, who have completed all their appeals. All are over the age of 50 and have spent over a decade on death row.
In 2014, Clayton Lockett was executed by the state of Oklahoma. His execution was lengthy and finding a viable vein for the execution was exceedingly difficult. Eventually, a vein in his groin was used, however the needle was improperly placed. During the administration of the drugs, the needle became dislodged and all the drugs did not enter his bloodstream. (Read more about the execution here.) Following his execution, lawyers for Lockett’s estate sued the state, saying his execution was cruel and unusual punishment. The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the execution does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment. The court cited a decision but the Supreme Court of the United States, which stated that, “Some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution - no matter how humane.”
Trip Pittman, a state senator in Alabama has proposed a bill that would allow the state to carry out executions by firing squad. He is also thinking of including nitrogen gas as an option. Alabama currently carries out executions by lethal injection, although the process has been taken to court, resulting in multiple delays, most recently that of 74-year-old Thomas Arthur. Arthur, along with other inmates have argued that the current lethal injection process contains a high risk of pain during the execution. In a recent lawsuit, Arthur argued that a firing squad would be a more humane method of execution.
The death penalty is unlikely to be brought back in New Mexico after Democrats, who traditionally oppose capital punishment, reclaimed the majority in the House and expanded their majority in the Senate. While the governor of New Mexico is supportive of reinstating the death penalty, such legislation would first need to pass the House and Senate, which it is unlikely to do.
Robert McCloud and Terrance Phillips have been removed from Florida’s death row, as ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. They have both been resentenced to life in prison. Robert was convicted for his part in a 2009 double murder. The Court ruled that since it was determined that Robert was not the shooter, and since his co-defendants received lesser sentences, he should not be executed. Terrance was also convicted of a 2009 double murder (unrelated to the one for which Robert was convicted). Terrance’s sentence was reduced because his was 18 at the time of the crime and borderline intellectually disabled.