March 9, 2018
IDPN 2018 Issue 10
Belarus: Kiryl Kazachok was reportedly executed over four months ago. Kiryl is convicted of murdering his own children; a 17-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. His execution has been reported by his mother, who was informed by officials in recent days that his execution was carried out in October of 2017. Belarus is the only European nation to carry out executions and has been heavily criticized by the European Union and human rights groups.
Iran: On Sunday, March 4, 2018, 26-year-old Masoud Vakili was executed by hanging at Kermanshah Central Prison. He was convicted of murder.
On Monday, March 5, 2018, Rahim (Abubakr) Salimi was executed by hanging at Urmia Central Prison. He was convicted of murder 12 years ago.
Mohammad Salas, who is convicted of driving a bus into three policemen and two members of the volunteer militia during a recent clash between the police and Sufi followers in Tehran, has been sentenced to death. His execution could occur within a few weeks.
Iraq: The nation has arrested hundreds of foreign women allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State, a terrorist group. Recently, they have sentenced 17 Turkish women to death by hanging. Women from other nations have also received death sentences, although the government is facing increased pressure to return these women to their home nations. Several of the nations to whom these women were originally from oppose the death penalty and have abolished it. Human rights groups are calling the trials “unfair” in Iraq.
Japan: Thirty-two-year-old Vayron Jonathan Nakada Ludena has been sentenced to death for the murder of six individuals, including two elementary school girls, during a three-day crime spree in 2015. Attorneys for Vayron were arguing that he was not mentally competent to take responsibility for his actions. During the crime spree, Vayron broke into three private homes, murdered individuals in each home, and robbed the houses. Vayron received two mental examines prior to his trial: the first declared him competent to stand trial, the second diagnosed him with schizophrenia, but acknowledged that even individuals with schizophrenia can be aware of the difference, and make appropriate judgements, on what is right and wrong. The court ruled that he was mentally competent to stand trial and convicted him and sentenced him to death.
Saudi Arabia: In the eight months following the appointment of Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince, executions in the nations have doubled. There have been a total of 133 executions carried out in those eight months, as compared to the 67 of the previous eight months. It has also been reported that eight of the 133 executions were that of individuals under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes.
United States of America: The execution of Doyle Lee Hamm was called off in Alabama on February 22, 2018, due not having enough time to locate a vein before the execution warrant expired. Several attempts were made to locate a vein prior to the execution being call off, leaving bruises on Doyle’s body. Doyle and his lawyers are now asking that his death sentence be vacated. They are arguing that Doyle suffered “physical and mental duress” during a process that they described as “physical and psychological torture.” Read more about Doyle’s case here. In 2009, in Ohio, death row inmate Romell Broom also had his execution called off after officials were unable to locate a usable vein. After years of appeals using similar arguments, he has been given a new execution date when the Supreme Court of the United States refused to take up his case.
In 2015, Alfred Dewayne Brown, a death row inmate in Texas, had his case dismissed and his conviction overturned. He was falsely convicted of killing a Houston police officer and a store clerk during a robbery. Throughout his trial and imprisonment, Alfred continued to proclaim his innocence, claiming he was at the home of his girlfriend during the time of the murders and that phone records could prove his innocence. However, officials claimed they had no such record. In 2014, proof of the phone call, which had allegedly been “inadvertently misplaced,” was recovered, prompting Alfred’s conviction being overturned. Now, a newly released e-mail showed that prosecutors were aware of a record of the phone call and did not share that information with the defense, which is in violation of the law. Alfred now wants to be declared “actually innocent,” which would allow him to seek compensation for the years he spent unjustly imprisoned.
Alva Campbell has died while on death row in Ohio. He was 69 years of age and died of natural causes after suffering from a multitude of health problems. Alva was sentenced to death for the murder of 18-year-old Charlies Dials in 1997, during a robbery while escaping police custody. Read more about the crime here. Alva made headlines November when officials called off his execution after they were unable to locate a vein to be used.
An attempt in Utah to repeal the death penalty has failed. The effort was led by Republican Representative Gage Froerer, who recognized that he did not have the support necessary for the bill. Representative Froerer is continuing to hope that Utah will become the first red state to end capital punishment. He remains hopeful that he will succeed within the next decade.
A woman who has refused to testify for the prosecution because it violates her Mennonite faith is currently in prison on charges of contempt of court. Sixty-seven-year-old Greta Lindecrantz is arguing she is against the death penalty due to her Mennonite faith. Greta is being asked to testify at an appeal for Robert Ray, a death row inmate in Colorado whom she worked to defend at his first trial. The appeals hearing is challenging the work done by the team of which Greta was a member.
The Senate in South Carolina has approved, by a vote of 26-12, a bill which would make the electric chair a mandatory back-up method of execution, if lethal injection is not available. The Senate also rejected a measure which would include firing squads as a method of execution. The bill will now move onto the South Carolina House of Representatives. If it is approved there, it will go to Governor Henry McMaster. The last execution in the state occurred in 2011.
A House committee in the state of Washington killed a bill that would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole for aggravated first-degree murder. The bill was approved by the state Senate before going on to the House of Representatives. The bill was supported by the governor, the attorney general, and numerous others. Following the news that the bill had failed, the governor stated that he maintains hopes that, “Washington will join the list of states that are choosing to end the death penalty.”
Sixty-one-year-old Scott Blystone, a former death row inmate in Pennsylvania, has been resentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. Scott was initially sentenced to death for the 1983 murder of 24-year-old Dalton Smithburger, a hitchhiker, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Scott was granted a new sentencing hearing when a federal appeals court ruled that mental health experts should have examined him and testified for him in an attempt to sway the jury to life in prison.