March 16, 2018

IDPN 2018  Issue 11


Bangladesh:  Thirty-nine men have been sentenced to death for the brutal 2014 murder of a ruling party official, which occurred in broad daylight.  Sixteen other men were acquitted.  Executions are carried out by hanging.  A lawyer for the men has said that they will appeal their sentence.



Botswana: President Ian Khama has announced that the nation has no intention of abolishing the death penalty.  Human rights activists and the European Union have asked the nation to abolish the death penalty.  The president defended the use of the death penalty, saying it was reserved for the most serious crimes and only takes place after a “thorough and exhaustive legal process.”



India:  The Rajasthan State Assembly has passed an amendment which would allow those convicted of raping young girls below the age of 12 to be sentenced to death.  A similar amendment had previously been added for gang rapes.  Rajasthan has become the second state, after Madhya Pradesh, to pass such a bill.


The national government has asked state governments for their opinions on the death penalty in the nation.  Of the 14, out of 29, states who have replied so far, only two support the abolishment of capital punishment. The remainder are in favor of keeping capital punishment.



Iran:  On Sunday, March 11, 2018, Javad Golneyyat was executed by hanging at Khoy Central Prison.  Javad was convicted and sentenced to death on rape charges.  He never confessed to the crime and has insisted upon his innocence.


Iraq: The unnamed sister of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi has been sentenced to death for terrorism, including supporting the Islamic State.  Her husband was also sentenced to death for being a member of the Islamic State terrorist group.  The woman was convicted “distributing money” among the militants while they had overtaken Mosul.



Singapore: Thirty-nine-year-old Billy Agbozo was executed on Friday, March 9, 2018.  Billy, a Ghanaian national, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2016 for trafficking drugs in his luggage during a trip in 2013.  



United States of America: On Thursday, March 15, 2018, Carlton Gary, the “Stocking Strangler,” was executed by the state of Georgia.  He was pronounced dead at 6:38 pm EDT.  Carlton was 67 years of age.  He was executed for the murders of 89-year-old Florence Scheible on October 21, 1977, 69-year-old Martha Thurmond on October 25, 1977, and 74-year-old Kathleen Woodruff on December 28, 1977, all in Columbus, Georgia.  He was also connected to several other sexual assaults and murders.  Read more about Carlton and his case here.


On Thursday, March 15, 2018, Michael Wayne Eggers was executed by the state of Alabama.  He was convicted of the murder of Bennie “Francis” Murray on December 30, 2000, near Jasper, Alabama.  Michael was pronounced dead at 7:49 pm CDT.  He was 50 years of age.  Click here to read more about the case.


Brian J. Dann has died while on death row awaiting execution in Arizona.  He was 55 years of age.  Brian died on March 1, 2018, and the cause of his death is currently under investigation, as all inmate deaths are required to be investigated. He was convicted of murdering Andrew Park, Shelly Park - Andrew’s sister and Brian’s girlfriend, and Eddie Payan - Andrew’s friend, on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1999.


A bill that would allow inmates in Alabama to choose execution by nitrogen gas is out of a panel in the Alabama House of Representatives and is before the entire House.  The Alabama Senate had previously approved the bill.  Mississippi and Oklahoma also allow for executed by nitrogen gas, although neither state has yet used it.  The sponsor of the bill in Alabama notes that the bill is not a debate about the death penalty, but rather giving the state options for continuing to carry out executions, should they be unable to obtain drugs for lethal injection.


Greta Lindecrantz has been in prison in Colorado since February 26, 2018, for refusing to testify for the prosecution during a death penalty appeal for Robert Ray.  Greta has now agreed to testify after she learned that Robert’s legal team believes her testimony would be beneficial to their client.  Greta had been refusing to testify as the death penalty went against her Mennonite faith.  Greta worked as an investigator for the defense during Robert’s original trial, which his current legal team is arguing was ineffective.


The California Supreme Court has unanimously decided to overturn the death sentence of Vicente Benavides Figuero.  The now 68-year-old man was convicted of murdering and sodomizing a toddler over 20 years ago.  Most of the experts who testified against him have since recanted their testimony, and the autopsy results have since been called into question.  Vicente has spent 24 of his 27 years in prison on death row.  It is up to prosecutors to decide if they will retry the case.


Prosecutors in Florida have decided to pursue the death penalty against Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz.  Lawyers for the shooter have indicated that he was willing to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole.  It does not appear that lawyers for Nikolas will contest his guilt, but rather they will focus on mitigating evidence with the hopes of persuading a singe juror to vote against the death penalty.  Florida’s new death sentencing law requires that a jury unanimously agree on the death penalty.


Following the ruling of the Delaware Supreme Court, which ruled that the death penalty sentencing law was unconstitutional, the fate of death row inmates was uncertain.  Now, the final two death row inmates in the state have had their death sentences commuted to life in prison.  The 10 other prior death row inmates have also had their sentences commuted.


In 2015, the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill that would allow for the use of nitrogen gas in executions.  Now, the state has announced that nitrogen gas will be the primary method of execution, whenever executions resume.  The state will have to develop new protocols for execution by nitrogen gas and it is unclear when executions will resume.  The switch to nitrogen gas is a result of drug companies making it increasingly difficult to obtain drugs to use in lethal injections.  Executions in Oklahoma have been on hold for over three years due to complications and nearly using the wrong drugs in previous executions.  There are 17 death row inmates who have completed their appeals.


Kentrell Johnson has had his death sentence overturned by the Florida Supreme Court.  The court ordered that he be sentenced to life in prison.  Kentrell’s conviction of the murder of Vincent Binder, a Florida State University graduate student, was upheld by the court.  Vincent was kidnapped and murder on April 2, 2010.  Prior to the kidnapping, Kentrell had recently escaped from a jail in Louisiana.  The death sentence was overturned because prosecutors had verbally agreed to not seek the death penalty if Kentrell helped locate the body.  He later drew the police a map, which led to the discovery of Vincent’s body.  With no written agreement to not seek the death penalty, a lower court ruled that the death penalty could be sought against Kentrell.  The Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the death penalty should not have been sought against him.