October 13, 2017

IDPN 2017 Issue 41

India: The Hight Court has upheld the death sentence of 35-year-old Pappu of Kushinagar, who is convicted of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a seven-year-old girl. The High Court was considering an appeal by Pappu to have his death sentence revoked.

The Gujarat High Court has commuted the death sentence of 11 inmates to life in prison. Additionally, the court upheld the life sentences of 20 individuals and commuted the life sentences of 31 other individuals. All were originally sentenced for taking part in a 2002 incident in which passengers were locked in a train car which was then set on fire using petroleum. Fifty-nine-individuals died in the attack at Godhra rail station.



Japan: The death penalty has been sought for 70-year-old Chisako Kakehi, who has been nicknamed the “black widow.” Chisako is accused of murdering her husband, 75-year-old Isao, and two common-law partners, 71-year-old Masanori Honda and 75-year-old Minoru Hioki. The three elderly men were all given drinks laced with cyanide. She also attempted to kill a fourth man, 79-year-od Toshiaki Suehiro. Chisako is believed to have killed them to receive their assets, as she was deep in debt. Chisako has pleaded not guilty and her defense is arguing that she has the onset of dementia.



Malaysia: According to Iran Human Rights, there are over 80 Iranians awaiting their sentences for charges of “involvement in drug trafficking.” Allegedly, most of these Iranians will be sentenced to death and are awaiting their sentences in horrid conditions in solitary confinement. Also allegedly, many of these inmates have been denied fair and legal due process, including the lack of a translator during their cases.



Pakistan: Mubasher Ahmad, Gulam Ahmed, and Ehsan, have been sentenced to death in Sheikhupura on charges of blasphemy (insulting the Prophet Mohammad). The three men are accused of tearing down a religious poster in Bhoiwal. All three men are part of the Ahmadi sect, a sect of Muslims whose faith is rejected by the Pakistani state.



United States of America: On Thursday, October 12, 2017, Texas death row inmate Robert Pruett was executed. He was pronounced dead at 6:46 pm CDT, inside the Walls Unit Execution chamber in Huntsville, Texas. Robert was convicted of the murder of prison guard Daniel Nagle. All appeals were denied ahead of the scheduled execution. Read more about Robert and his case here.

Fernando Belmontes, an inmate on California's death row, has died while awaiting an execution date. He was 56 years of age and had spent the last 36 years of his life on California’s death row. He was one of 16 inmates who had exhausted all of his appeals. California’s executions had been on hold for over a decade due to legal appeals. Officials are currently investigating his cause of death. Fernando was sentenced to death for the murder of 19-year-old Steacy McConnell during a 1981 burglary in San Joaquin County.

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, Rickey Newman, once a death row inmate in Arkansas, was released. Rickey had been sentenced to death for the murder of Marie Cholette. Over the years Rickey has changed his story from insisting his innocence, to confessing on tape, to claiming that his alter-ego killed Marie. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that his confession could not be used against him due to his mental defects. He was released from prison 17 years after he first entered. The charges against him were dropped, allowing his release.

Since 2006, officials in California have been attempting to re-write the state’s execution protocol and eliminate the problems that resulted in executions in the state being placed on hold in 2006. When the families of murder victims sued in an attempt to force the state to carry out the punishment merited by the courts, Governor Jerry Brown agreed to switch the execution drugs from a three-drug process to a single drug. However, the procedures recently drafted by prison officials has been rejected by the Office of Administrative Law for the second time. However, that office may soon be eliminated in the revision process as Proposition 66 removes the requirement for regularly review of a one-drug execution process. Proposition 66 was passed by voters in the 2016 election and parts of it were recently upheld by the California Supreme Court, including the portion relative to this issue. It is likely, however, that whatever the outcome, the issue will be taken to federal courts.

After four years with no capital cases in Indiana, prosecutors have now filed two in the last month. One of the cases involves the murder of a police officer, while the other case involves the murder of a civilian during a burglary. Both cases could possibly avoid trial, and thereby a death sentence, if a plea deal is reached.

Marvin Rice, a former deputy sheriff and state correctional officer in Dent County, Missouri, has been sentenced to death for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Annette Durham. The two were having a custody dispute over their son. Marvin was sentenced to death by Judge Kelly Wayne Parker, however, the jury in the case had voted 11-1 to recommend life in prison. The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled in a Florida case, that a jury had to find the facts necessary to impose a death sentence. Since then, many states have changed their sentencing procedures to align with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Duane Buck was sentenced to death in Texas in 1995. Since then, his case has come under intense scrutiny, with his supports saying his trial was tainted by race. He spent 20 years on death row before his case finally made its way before the Supreme Court of the United States, which overturned his sentence and ordered a new sentencing trial. Duane managed to reach a plea deal prior to his new trial. He pled guilty to two counts of murder and has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In Florida, John Gary Hardwick, Jr., has been resented to life in prison. He was previously sentenced to death. He is convicted of murdering 17-year-old Keith Pullum on December 24, 1984.

Jason McGehee, who was sentenced to be executed earlier this year in Arkansas, has had his death sentence officially commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jason had his sentence commuted by Govern Asa Hutchinson, as was recommend by the Arkansas Parole Board. Read more about Jason’s case here.

Miguel Oyola was sentenced to death in Florida in 2010, for the murder of 35-year-old Michael Lee Gerard in December of 2007. He has now been resentenced to life in prison.

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