by Kent Scheidegger
Michael Graczyk reports for AP:
A Texas man convicted of killing a 38-year-old woman nearly two decades ago while he was on parole for a triple slaying years earlier was executed Thursday evening.
Robert Ladd, 57, received a lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments he was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty.
The court also rejected an appeal in which Ladd’s attorney challenged whether the pentobarbital Texas uses in executions is potent enough to not cause unconstitutional pain and suffering.
There are no dissents noted in the two Supreme Court orders.
Pentobarbital is the way to go.
The Georgia Department of Corrections on Friday set a Jan. 13 execution date for Andrew Howard Brannan, who murdered a 22-year-old Laurens County deputy during a 1998 traffic stop. If Brannan is put to death by lethal injection, he will be second man Georgia has executed in little more than a month; Robert Holsey was executed on Dec. 9 for murdering a Baldwin County deputy. In January 1998, Laurens County deputy Kyle Dinkheller stopped Brannan on Interstate 16 for speeding, driving at 98 mph. All that happened after Brannan was pulled over was captured by a video camera on the deputy’s car.
According to the video shown the jury, Brannan got out of his truck and ignored Dinkheller’s demands that he take his hands out of his pockets. Brannan swore at the deputy and began dancing on the road and yelling, “shoot me.” At one point he yelled he was a “Vietnam combat veteran.” Then Brannan rushed the the deputy and they struggled for a few moments until Brannan ran back to his truck and got a .30 M-1 carbine. He shot Dinkheller nine times, including once at close range. In the trial, Brannan’s attorney said he was insane and asked the jury to find him not guilty. The defense lawyer said Brannan had post traumatic stress disorder and would have flashbacks to his experience Vietnam.
But according to the court-appointed psychiatrist, Brannan was sane.
BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri inmate was put to death early Wednesday for fatally beating a 63-year-old woman with a hammer in 1998, the state’s record 10th lethal injection of 2014 to match Texas for the most executions in the country this year.
Paul Goodwin, 48, sexually assaulted Joan Crotts in St. Louis County, pushed her down a flight of stairs and beat her in the head with a hammer. Goodwin was a former neighbor who felt Crotts played a role in getting him kicked out of a boarding house.
Goodwin’s execution began at 1:17 a.m., more than an hour after it was scheduled, and he was pronounced dead at 1:25 a.m.
Efforts to spare Goodwin’s life centered on his low IQ and claims that executing him would violate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the death penalty for the mentally disabled. Attorney Jennifer Herndon said Goodwin had an IQ of 73, and some tests suggested it was even lower.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A federal judge in Connecticut has rejected the arguments of a home invasion killer on death row who complained that the food he is being served in prison is not kosher. Steven Hayes, convicted of killing a mother and two daughters, sued the Department of Correction in August, alleging the preparation practices for kosher meals in the kitchen at the state’s highest-security prison do not conform to Jewish dietary laws.
Hayes describes himself in the lawsuit as an Orthodox Jew and says he’s been requesting a kosher diet since May 2013. He says he has suffered “almost two years of emotional injury from having to choose between following God and starving or choosing sin to survive.”
Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky were sentenced to die for the 2007 murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, at the family’s home in Cheshire. The victims were tied up, two of them were sexually assaulted and their bodies were found after the home was set on fire. Hawke-Petit’s husband, Dr. William Petit, was severely beaten, but survived.
LOUISVILLE, KY. — Scott Nelson was 17 when he died. Donata Nelson has seen 30 years pass without the man who killed her son being led into an execution chamber. On Sept. 30, the day after the 30th anniversary of when Nelson and a friend were bound, gagged and shot in the back of the head, a federal judge struck down some of Victor Taylor’s appeals on his two death sentences for murder, kidnapping and robbery, and sodomy. But with new legal obstacles emerging, including a national debate over lethal injection drugs, Donata Nelson, 72, doesn’t hold out much hope for a resolution. “It gets tough,” she said, her voice breaking up. “After all these years, it doesn’t seem to ease up.”
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Ten years after banning the use of firing squads in state executions, Utah lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a proposal to allow the practice again to avoid problems with lethal-injection drugs. The proposal from Republican Rep. Paul Ray of Clearfield would call for a firing squad if the state cannot obtain the lethal injection drugs 30 days before the scheduled execution. Utah dropped firing squads out of concern about the media attention, but Ray said it’s the most humane way to execute someone because the inmate dies instantly.
‘We have to have an option,’ Ray told reporters on Wednesday. ‘If we go hanging, if we go to the guillotine, or we go to the firing squad, electric chair, you’re still going to have the same circus atmosphere behind it. So is it really going to matter?’After a 20-minute discussion, an interim panel of Utah lawmakers approved the idea on a 9-2 vote Wednesday. The proposal still needs to go through the full legislative process once lawmakers convene for their annual session in January.
One of two men convicted of killing a South Dakota State Penitentiary guard will be executed the week of May 3-9, 2015.
Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the warrant of execution for Rodney Scott Berget has been issued by Second Circuit Court Judge Bradley Zell. The penitentiary’s warden will set the time and day. Law requires he announce to the public the scheduled day and hour within 48 hours of the execution.
Berget and another prisoner, Eric Robert, attacked penitentiary guard Ronald Johnson during an April 2011 escape attempt. Johnson was alone in an area where inmates work on projects such as upholstery and signs. Robert donned Johnson’s uniform and tried to move a large box with Berget inside toward the prison gate. They were caught before leaving the prison.
Robert was executed in 2012. A third inmate, Michael Nordman, was sentenced to life in prison for providing plastic wrap and a pipe used in the slaying of Johnson, which happened on his 63rd birthday.
At the execution will be the attorney general, the trial judge, the state’s attorney and county sheriff, representatives of the victims, at least one member of the news media, and a number of reputable adult citizens to be determined by the warden.
A 29-year-old man was sentenced to death Monday for a 2009 double-murder inside a Las Vegas apartment.
After a lengthy and emotional penalty hearing, a Clark County jury took just a few hours to sentence Ralph “Macky” Jeremias to capital punishment for the execution-style shootings of Paul Stephens and Brian Hudson.
Last week, the same jury found Jeremias guilty of two counts of first-degree murder along with robbery and burglary charges.
After a clerk read the sentence, Jeremias turned toward his mother, stepfather and grandmother seated in the courtroom gallery.
“I love you mom,” he said, as his family members wept.
Prosecutors said Jeremias used a 9 mm handgun to shoot and kill the two men execution-style. Jeremias had purchased marijuana from Stephens in the past and coveted money and laptops in their apartment.
From the witness stand, Jeremias said he went to the apartment complex with friends Carlos Zapata and Ivan Rios to buy marijuana and found the victims already dead.
Both Rios and Zapata told investigators that Jeremias went inside alone with a gun and shot each victim multiple times.
About a year after their arrests, Zapata made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, one count of robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. In exchange, he agreed to testify at Jeremias’ trial.
Texas (AP) — A Texas woman convicted of the starvation and torture death of her girlfriend’s 9-year-old son a decade ago was executed Wednesday evening.
Lisa Coleman, 38, received a lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal to spare her.
She was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m. CDT, 12 minutes after Texas Department of Criminal officials began administering a lethal dose of pentobarbital.
Coleman became the ninth convicted killer and second woman to receive lethal injection in Texas this year. Nationally, she’s the 15th woman executed since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed the death penalty to resume. During that same time, nearly 1,400 men have been put to death. Coleman was condemned for the death of Davontae Williams, whose emaciated body was found in July 2004 at the North Texas apartment Coleman shared with his mother, Marcella Williams.
Paramedics who found him dead said they were shocked to learn his age. He weighed 36 pounds, about half that of a normal 9-year-old. A pediatrician later would testify that he had more than 250 distinct injuries, including burns from cigarettes or cigars and scars from ligatures, and that a lack of food made him stop growing.
“There was not an inch on his body that not been bruised or scarred or injured,” said Dixie Bersano, one of Coleman’s trial prosecutors. Women are a much smaller proportion of death row than of the general population, but we don’t hear the same wailing and gnashing of teeth that we do with racial “disproportion.” It’s perfectly obvious to everyone that women per capita commit fewer murders overall and far fewer murders deserving the death penalty than men, and therefore comparison with the general population is irrelevant. Why are so many people blind to the same truth on the racial angle?
“Accused killer wants jury to hear execution details” Not a bad idea – but only if the jury is also told of the last hours and minuted of this killer’s Grandmother who was murdered by this seemingly self-centered killer who will do anything to avoid being held responsible for her awful and brutal deeds. Many survivors of homicide victims think killers like this thug should be executed the same way they murdered their victims. What do you think about that?
An accused killer, battling the possibility of death by lethal injection, believes the jury asked to condemn her should be told exactly how she will die; and that the drugs injected into her veins might cause her to writhe and gasp like two men executed earlier this year. Ellen Crawley, awaiting trial on accusations that she killed her own grandmother, pointed to the two troubled executions in Ohio and Oklahoma that reignited the national debate over lethal injection.
Her attorneys, Jon Heck and Ryan Vantrease, think a jury would spare her if they understood the uncertainty surrounding Kentucky executions, a system they describe as “unconstitutional and broken.” “I like to think we live in a civilized society, where we would not tolerate our citizens being tortured by the state,” Heck said. Crawley’s request is the first of its kind in the state, filed in the wake of the two botched executions that have become a rallying cry for those who see capital punishment as inhumane. At a hearing Thursday, Heck and Vantrease are expected to ask Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Charles Cunningham to allow them to hold a subsequent hearing with testimony about what drugs are used in lethal injections, and the specifics of how those drugs shut down the human body.
The drugs used for decades to kill American prisoners are no longer available, as pharmaceutical companies have refused to supply drugs for lethal injections. States, including Kentucky, have turned to unregulated compounding pharmacies or untested drug combinations, sparking an explosion of lawsuits challenging whether experimental executions violate the constitutional protection from cruel and unusual punishment.