img

December 13, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 49

Botswana: The Botswana government has announced that on Monday, December 2, 2019, 44-year-old Mooketsi Kgosibodiba was executed by hanging during the early morning hours at Gaborone Central Prison. Mooketsi was convicted of murdering his employer, Benjamin Makobela on February 2, 2012. The two men lived together and had a strained relationship after Benjamin accused Mooketsi of stealing from him.


Following the nation’s recent execution, human rights groups are calling upon President Mokgweetsi Masisi to abolish capital punishment in the nation. Botswana is one of four countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have recently carried out an execution, the other three being Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan.

 

 

Iran: On December 4, 2019, Somayyeh Shahbazi Jahruyi was executed by hanging in Sepidar Prison of Ahvaz. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that two other women were hanged on the same day.


On Monday, December 9, 2019, five prisoners were executed by hanging at Dizel Abad Prison in Kermanshah in western Iran. All were convicted of murder.


On December 11, 2019, the state-run media reported that 32-year-old Maryam and her husband Mehdi R., had been executed by hanging in the Central Prison of Mashhad.


On December 12, 2019, Manuchehr Iranshahi was executed by hanging at Rajaei Shahr Prison of Karaj.

 

 

Japan: Forty-one-year-old Mitsuru Nakata, a former police officer, has been sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, 38-year-old Yukiko, and their two children, nine-year-old Ryosuke and six-year-old Miyu, at their home in Ogori on June 5, 2017. Mitsuru has not confessed to the crime, nor given a reason for committing the murders. During the trial, prosecutors noted that the couple had a strained relationship.

 

 

Jordan: On Saturday, December 7, 2019, a total of 15 executions were carried out by hanging at Swaqa Prison. Ten of those were convicted on terrorism related charges, and were connected to crimes that resulted in deaths and had links to Islamic militant groups. The other five prisoners were convicted of rape and sexual assault.

 

 

Thailand: The Appeals Court has upheld the death sentences for 43-year-old Wicharn Saenlee and 40-year-old Buramee Barameekuakul. The two men, along with three others - Wicharn’s father, mother, and another female accomplice - were arrested in an undercover drug operation. Wicharn and Buramee both denied the drug charges and were sentenced to death. The other three admitted their guilt and received lesser sentences.

 

 

United States of America: On Monday, December 9, 2019, Daniel Lee was scheduled to be executed by the federal government. His execution was stayed several days prior to his execution, when the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who halted all federal executions scheduled throughout December 2019, and January 2020.  Judge Chutkan issued the stays of execution after arguments that the federal execution protocol is unconstitutional because it violates a 1994 federal statute that says federal executions shall be carried out “in the manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed.” Daniel was sentenced to death for the triple murder of William Mueller, his wife Nancy, and her eight-year-old daughter Sarah Powell, in January 1996, in Russellville, Arkansas.


On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, Travis Runnels was executed by the state of Texas. His execution was carried out at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary, in Huntsville, Texas. Travis was executed for the murder of Stanley A. Wiley, on January 29, 2003, in Amarillo, Texas.


On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, James Hanna was scheduled to be executed by the state of Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to July 16, 2020.  Seventy-year-old James is convicted of the murder of 43-year-old Peter Copas at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in 1997. Ohio has struggled to establish an approved execution protocol, leading to executions frequently being rescheduled, as executions are often scheduled years in advance. Read more about Ohio’s struggles here.


On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, Lezmond Mitchell was scheduled to be executed by the federal government. His execution was stayed by a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The stay was granted due to an appeal arguing that Lezmond’s attorneys were not allowed to question jurors for potential Native American bias. Thirty-eight-year-old Lezmond has been sentenced to death for the murder of 63-year-old Alyce R. Slim and her 9-year-old granddaughter Tiffany Lee, on the Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona on October 28, 2001.


On Friday, December 13, 2019, Wesley Purkey was scheduled to be executed by the federal government. His execution was stayed several days prior to his execution, when the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who halted all federal executions scheduled throughout December 2019, and January 2020.  Judge Chutkan issued the stays of execution after arguments that the federal execution protocol is unconstitutional because it violates a 1994 federal statute that says federal executions shall be carried out “in the manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed.” Sixty-seven-year-old Wesley has been sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of 16-year-old Jennifer Long in January 22, 1998, in Kansas City, Missouri.


Bobby James Moore has been resentenced to life in prison in Texas. Bobby was convicted and sentenced to death on July 24,1980, for his part in a grocery store robbery that resulted in the death of 73-year-old James McCarble, on April 25, 1980, in Houston, Texas. Bobby’s resentencing comes after years of appeals arguing that he is too intellectually disabled to be executed and that the way Texas determines intellectual disability is unconstitutional. In November 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reduced Bobby’s sentenced, agreeing that Bobby is intellectually disabled, and therefore ineligible to be executed.


On September 15, 1983, Leif C. Halvorsen was sentenced to death for his part in the murders of 19-year-old Jacqueline Greene, 28-year-old Joe Norman and 23-year-old Joey Durham in Lexington, Kentucky. All three were shot multiple times. Now, Governor Matt Bevin, in one of his last acts before leaving office, commuted Leif’s sentenced of life in prison, with the possibility of parole. Since being in prison, Leif has expressed deep remorse for his actions, renewed his Catholic faith, completed two college degrees, raised money for poor children, helped calm agitated inmates preventing violent attacks from breaking out, and participated in a program that includes speaking to at-risk young people in the hopes of helping them steer clear of bad choices. Several young people have come forward saying Leif’s testimony has helped them make better life choices.


On October 31, 1988, Gregory L. Wilson was sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Deborah Pooley in Kenton County, Kentucky. Now, Governor Matt Bevin, in one of his last acts before leaving office, commuted Gregory’s sentenced of life in prison, with the possibility of immediate parole. Gregory is allegedly a changed man after spending 31 years on death row, having converted to Catholicism. One of the reasons Governor Bevin elected to commute Gregory’s sentence was due to his abysmal legal representation during his initial trial. After attorneys in Northern Kentucky refused to take the case due to the low state fee they would receive, a sign asking for help was posted on the courtroom door. Gregory ended up with a lawyer that had never tried a felony before and a lead lawyer who had no office, no law books, and listed a local tavern’s phone number on his business card. Additionally, Gregory’s female co-defendant, who testified against him, was taken into another judge’s chambers every day of the trial for the two to have sex. Since the trial, Gregory’s co-defendant has claimed she was the actual killer. Gregory had perviously received two convictions for rape, serving 13 years in prison. He had been out of prison for approximately 10 month, when Deborah was killed.


Marcia Gaile Owens, a former death row inmate in Tennessee, was found unresponsive in a friend’s home. She was pronounced dead on November 27, 2019, at 67 years of age. Gaile was sentenced to death on January 15, 1986. She was convicted of hiring a hitman to kill her husband, Ronald Owens. According to Gaile, Ronald was physically and emotionally abusive and would sexually assault her. On July 13, 2010, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen commuted Gaile’s sentence to life in prison, with the possibility of parole, and the following year, Gaile was granted parole.


In the past two presidential elections, the California ballot has also held a question regarding the death penalty in the state. Each time, voters elected to keep capital punishment in state, despite the last execution being carried out since 2006. In 2016, voters in California approved a measure that was meant to speed up appeals in the state and resume executions. That measure has struggled to be implemented, as lawsuits make their ways through the courts. There is unlikely to be similar question on 2020 ballot. In March 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium on execution in the state. California currently has over 730 inmates on death row. In announcing his moratorium, Governor Newsom said that over 20 death row inmates have complete their appeals and could be scheduled to be executed.

 

 

Vietnam: Fifty-three-year-old Nguyen Van Dong has been sentenced to death for stabbing his 50-year-old brother Nguyen Van Hai, 49-year-old sister-in-law Doan Thi Viet, Nguyen Thi Bac (Hai's daughter), Do Thi Hong Nhung (Hai's daughter-in-law) and 14-month-old Nguyen Huyen My (Nhung's daughter). Nhung was the only survivor. Dong had spent years in a dispute with his brother due to Hai’s failure to show up a several anniversaries of their father’s death.


Four Lao men, and one Vietnamese man, have been arrested and could be sentenced to death for trafficking drugs. The men, identified as 64-year-old Nguyen Van Nha, 20-yera-old Souphap Keobounmy, 20-year-old PhouPet Vangd, 19-year-old Sitthiphon Toukt, and 22-year-old Namaumnard Somphavan, were arrested after the police spent several months staking out the drug ring. Vietnam has some of the toughest drug laws in the world, with smugglers often facing the death penalty for their crimes.

For more information regarding financial support, please click here.

Scroll