June 28, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 25

Iran: On Friday, June 21, 2019, Jamal Haji-Zavareh was executed in Tehran. He was convicted of spying for the United States of America. Prior to his arrest, Jamal worked for the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. His wife was also arrested. Both were tortured. Jamal was sentenced to death , while his wife received a 15 year prison term.


On Wednesday, June 16, 2019, five men were executed by hanging at Karaj’s Rajai-Shahr prison. Three of the men were identified as Ghorban Soleimani, Hanif Motaharinejad and Majid Hassanzadeh, while the other two were not named. Most were executed on murder charges.



Sri Lanka: President Maithripala Sirisena has signed death sentences for four individuals convicted of drug-related offenses, moving to end the moratorium on executions in the nation. Some believe that this move is an effort to boost his selection chances, as he has struggled to fulfill many of the promises made before his election in January 2015. Allegedly, a date has been set for the executions of the four men, however that information has not yet been made public.



United States of America: Curtis Flowers, a death row inmate in Mississippi, was convicted of the murder of four furniture store employees, former coworkers, in 1996, in Winona, Mississippi. Since his arrest, Curtis has had six trials, with the Supreme Court of the Untied States ruling that he now deserves a seventh trial, due to prosecutorial misconduct. The primary issue at the center of Curtis’ appeal is that the prosecutor struck jurors on the basis of race. Over the past two decades, district attorney Doug Evans eliminated 41 or 43 potential black jurors. Additionally, the court found that potential black jurors were questioned differently than potential while jurors. In 1986, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a juror could not be eliminated based on their race. Two of Curtis’ previous trials resulted in hung juries.


Alfred Dewayne Brown spent 10 years on death row in Texas, after being convicted of the murders of 27-years-old Alfredia Jones, a store clerk who had recently returned from maternity leave, and 45-year-old Charles Clark, a police officer who was days away from retirement, during a robbery on April 3, 2003. On June 8, 2015, Alfred was released from prison, after courts had found that prosecutors improperly withheld evidence from the defense, including evidence that supported Alfred’s assertion that he was at his girlfriend’s house at the time of the murders. Since his release, Alfred has attempted to claim compensation for his time unjustly imprisoned. In order to have a chance at compensation, Alfred was required to have a judge declare him “actually innocent,” a move supported by District Attorney Kim Ogg. After receiving the amended judgement, a state comptroller denied Alfred compensation, however Alfred and his attorney plan to appeal before, if necessary going to the Texas Supreme Court.


Genesis Hill has spent the last 27 years on death row in Ohio, after bing convicted of the murder of his infant daughter Domika. Now, he is hopeful for a chance of parole. New evidence suggests that Domika’s death was accidental, and not homicide. After a judge found doubt in Genesis’s conviction, he agreed to a life sentence, with the possibility of parole after 30 years, instead of waiting for a new trial, which could take years. While Genesis has been removed, it is not immediately clear when he will be eligible for parole, as he could possibly receive credit for good behavior during the past 27 years in prison.


Angelo Fears has spent the last 22 years on death row in Ohio. While Angelo will spend the remainder of his life in prison, in will not be on death row. Angelo was convicted of the murder Antwuan Gilliam on March 30, 1997, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The new sentence has been agreed to by Angelo and the family of the victim. Angelo was resented to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a hearing earlier this year.


On June 6, 2019, Shelton Jackson was found unresponsive inside his cell in the prison infirmary in Oklahoma. Shelton was later pronounced dead. He was 46 years of age. Shelton had been sentenced to death for the murder of his girlfriend, Monica Denise Decator, in 1997.


A jury in California has recommend the death penalty for 62-year-old Charles “Chase” Merritt, who was convicted of the murders of his former business associate, Joseph McStay, and Joseph’s wife, 43-year-old Summer, and their two children, 4-year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph, Jr. The murders occurred in San Diego, California, in early 2010. The family remained missing until their skeletal remains were uncovered in 2013. Merritt was identified as the murderer by the murder, which was found alongside the remains. Merritt had previously worked as welder for Joseph. California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, has issued a moratorium on executions in the state, which last carried out an execution in 2006, however prosecutors are still able to request the death penalty at trials.

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