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Vietnamese National Scheduled for Execution Despite Board's Unanimous Recommendation for Clemency

Posted: February 18, 2004
Hung Thanh Le, a Vietnamese foreign national, is scheduled for execution on February 26th in Oklahoma. Governor Brad Henry has so far rejected a unanimous recommendation from the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Paroles to reduce Le's death sentence to life in prison. Le's appeal notes that he was not informed of his right to contact the Vietnamese consulate when he was arrested and may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the Vietnam war. Leaders of the Vietnamese-American Community
 

Alan Gell of North Carolina Is Nation's 113th Death Row Exoneree

Posted: February 18, 2004
Alan Gell of North Carolina became the nation's 113th exonerated death row inmate today, February 18, 2004. Gell, who has maintained his innocence since his 1998 conviction, was acquitted of all charges by a jury that deliberated for only two and a half hours at his retrial. In December 2002, a North Carolina judge vacated Gell's murder conviction and ordered a new trial after ruling that prosecutors withheld important evidence that might have helped exonerate Gell at his first trial. Among the evidence not revealed was a secretly taped 1995 telephone conversation
 

NEW RESOURCES: Death Penalty Study Examines Sentencing Rates, Executions, Race Statistics

Posted: February 16, 2004
The authors of a new study published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (J. Blume, T. Eisenberg, & M. Wells, "Explaining Death Row's Population and Racial Composition," Vol. I, Issue 1, March 2004, at 165) concluded that Texas' reputation as the leading death penalty state in the U.S. is attributable more to its high number of executions and the large number
 

Recent Developments in the Federal Death Penalty

Posted: February 16, 2004
  • Federal prosecutors dropped charges against Darrell Rice shortly before he was to face capital charges for two murders in Shenandoah National Park. New forensic evidence cast doubt on the case against Rice, despite the fact that Attorney General John Ashcroft had made a public announcement of Rice's indictment employing a new law in 2002. (Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2004).
  • A federal judge threw out a jury's (July 2003) verdict of guilt in the capital case of Jay Lentz, accused of murdering his wife.
 

Recent Developments in the Federal Death Penalty

Posted: February 16, 2004
Federal prosecutors dropped charges against Darrell Rice shortly before he was to face capital charges for two murders in Shenandoah National Park.  New forensic evidence cast doubt on the case against Rice, despite the fact that Attorney General John Ashcroft had made a public announcement of Rice's indictment employing a new law in 2002.  (Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2004).
  • A federal judge threw out a jury's (July 2003) verdict of guilt in the capital case of Jay Lentz, accused of murdering his wife. 
 

State Medical Examiner Indicted for Lying; Participated in a Third of Death Row Cases

Posted: February 12, 2004
A Tennessee medical examiner who helped convict about a third of the state's death row inmates has been indicted for faking an attack in which he was strapped with a homemade bomb around his neck. Dr. O'Brian Smith was found in 2002 wrapped head to toe in barbed wire and bound to window bars in his office, an incident investigators first believed was carried out by those who were angry with Smith for helping to convict Philip Workman and other inmates on Tennessee's death row. The indictment against Dr. Smith accuses him
 

Despite Upcoming Supreme Court Argument, Texas Schedules Execution Dates for Four Juvenile Offenders

Posted: February 11, 2004
Texas has scheduled the execution of four juvenile offenders between March and June of 2004 despite the fact that the U. S. Supreme Court has agreed to review whether such executions are constitutional. Arguments in Roper v. Simmons, No. 03-633, a case from Missouri where the state Supreme Court ruled that the execution of those under the age 18 at the time of their crime would be cruel and unusual punishment, are not expected to take place until this coming fall, months after the scheduled executions of Edward Capetillo, Anzel Jones, Efrain Perez, and
 

NEW VOICES: Charlize Theron Criticizes Death Penalty After Her Movie Role

Posted: February 9, 2004
Charlize Theron, who recently won a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of executed Florida death row inmate Aileen Wuornos in the movie "Monster," has stated that making the movie made her more aware of how "ineffective" capital punishment is. Theron, who is opposed to the death penalty, was only 15 when her own mother shot and killed her drunken father after he threatened to kill his wife and daughter. "I don't think condemning people who murder and then killing them necessarily sends out the right message. And I have a huge problem with the way these people are used as political
 

Prosecutors Drop Death Penalty As Victims' Mother Seeks Closure

Posted: February 9, 2004
Prosecutors from Middlesex County, New Jersey, have decided to adhere to the wishes of the victim's family and will not seek the death penalty against Dwayne Carreker of New Brunswick at his retrial. They will instead seek a sentence of life in prison. "The victim's mother has said she is more interested in justice and closure than she is with the death penalty," said First Assistant Prosecutor William Lamb. Lamb noted that his office considered the victim's family's wishes and the result of the first trial against Carreker when deciding whether to proceed with
 

Geography Influences California Death Penalty Policies

Posted: February 9, 2004
A recent investigation of California's death penalty by the Associated Press found that the geographic location of a crime plays a significant role in whether a defendant receives the death penalty. California has the nation's largest death row. A disproportionately high number of inmates are from places such as Kern, Riverside, and Shasta Counties, where prosecutors have voiced strong support for the death penalty and jurors have been more likely to support the sentence. On the other hand, in counties such as San Diego and San Francisco, prosecutors
 

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