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NEWS (8/22): The California Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence imposed on Gary Grimes for a 1995 murder after the trial court had improperly prevented the defense from presenting a statement from the actual killer that he had acted alone. The court denied Grimes' claim that the statement also entitled him to a new trial.
NEW RESOURCES (8/19): DPIC has updated our resources on states with and without the death penalty and states with no executions in more than a decade.
BREAKING NEWS (8/19): The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a stay of execution to Jeffery Wood to permit him to litigate his claims that his death sentence was the product of false scientific evidence and the prosecution's presentation of false psychiatric testimony asserting that he was certain to commit future acts of violence violated his right to due process. Wood had been scheduled to be executed on August 24.
NEWS (8/15): The Delaware Attorney General's office has announced that it will not appeal the state supreme court's decision in State v. Rauf declaring Delaware's capital sentencing scheme unconstitutional. State prosecutors say they will fight the retroactive application of the decision to the thirteen death row prisoners currently facing execution.
NEWS (8/15): The California Supreme Court voted unanimously to overturn the death sentence imposed on Sergio Dujuan Nelson for a 1993 murder, ruling that the trial judge had improperly permitted the the jurors to be questioned about their deliberations and removed one of the holdouts from the jury. It was the second time in a week that the court had overturned a death penalty verdict as a result of a judge improperly removing a juror who appeared to be favoring the defense. On 8/11 the court granted a new trial to Craigen Armstrong when the trial judge improperly removed a juror who had appeared to have reached the conclusion that Armstrong was not guilty, saying that the juror was refusing to deliberate.
NEW RESOURCES (8/9): DPIC has updated our state-by-state information pages to include links to a search of our innocence database for each of the 26 states that have had a death row exoneration since 1973.
NEWS (8/11): The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has granted a new trial to James Hardy, sentenced to death in California in 1981, ruling that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present alibi evidence that Hardy was not present at the time of the murder and eyewitness testimony that the prosecution's lead witness may have been the actual shooter. Hardy's death sentence had been overturned in 2007.
NEW RESOURCES (8/5): DPIC has updated our state-by-state information pages to include graphics of each death penalty state's annual death sentences from 1977-2015. The graphics, which previously included data on sentencing between 1994-2012, have been expanded to include death sentences imposed from 1977-1993 and updated to include death sentences imposed in 2013-2015.
NEWS (8/3): A jury in a high-profile Virginia death penalty trial has imposed a life sentence on Russell Brown in the killing of a Virginia state trooper. Brown's lawyers presented the jury with evidence that Brown is seriously mentally ill, including that Brown was psychotic at the time of the killing and had acted under a delusion that God had directed him to kill.
NEWS (8/2): The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that the state's capital sentencing statute is unconstitutional. In the case of Benjamin Rauf v. Delaware, the court held that the statute's sentencing procedures violated the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, as set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court's January decision in Hurst v. Florida. The Delaware court ruled that the statute was unconstitutional because it permitted a judge, rather than the jury, to make the ultimate findings of fact necessary to impose a death sentence, in that it did not require a unanimous jury finding of non-statutory aggravating circumstances that the jury would consider in recommending the death penalty or a unanimous jury finding that aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt.
NEWS (8/2): Louisiana death row exoneree John Thompson has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Justice asking it to investigate what the petition describes as gross violations committed by former Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney James Williams in more than 100 cases he prosecuted between 1980 and 1990. During that time, he sent five men to death row, whose convictions or death sentences were later overturned for prosecutorial misconduct.
DPIC 2015 Year End Report
DPIC Podcast Series: We have begun a new set of podcasts on the death penalty in each state, each with interesting historical facts. The following are now available: Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Check out our podcasts now! Also listen to DPIC's podcasts on death penalty issues.