A new book by Margaret Edds, an award-winning editorial writer with the Virginian-Pilot, explores the wrongful conviction of former Virginia death row inmate Earl Washington. "An Expendable Man: The Near-Execution of Earl Washington, Jr." provides detailed analysis of the state's prosecution of Washington, a mentally retarded man who spent almost 18 years in prison - nearly 10 of those on death row - for a murder he did not commit.
Michael Lee McCormick has been on Tennessee's death row for 17 years, but a recent court decision throwing out the remaining evidence against him could result in his freedom. Judge Doug Meyer ruled that tapes containing conversations between McCormick and an undercover police officer who had befriended him were inadmissible due to "police misconduct." Meyer noted that McCormick, who is an alcoholic, had continually denied his involvement in the crime "until the authorities made him dependent upon them for his alcohol.
A Tennessee jury took only 2 hours to convict and another hour to sentence Richard Taylor to death. Taylor suffers from mental illness and defended himself. The trial took place 19 years after Taylor's original 1984 death sentence, which was set aside because he had inadequate representation and his complex mental-health history had not been fully investigated.
Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi was allowed to plead guilty to 10 murders, drug trafficking, racketeering and extortion, as federal prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against him in exchange for his cooperation with ongoing crime investigations. Under the terms of the agreement, Flemmi - who has also admitted to murders in Florida and Oklahoma - will serve a life without parole sentence in a secure unit reserved for cooperating inmates. Among the murders committed by Flemmi were the murder of his girlfriend and the daughter of another girlfriend.
Kenyan government officials are working to abolish the nation's death penalty and replace the punishment with life in prison. The recommendation is currently under review by Kenya's constitutional review conference, a body comprised of members of parliament, professional bodies and religious and civic leaders. Kenya has not had an execution since 1987, but 2,618 people remain on the nation's death row.