UPDATE: Flawed FBI hair testimony found in 33rd capital case
Philadelphia Magazine reports (4/22) that the FBI's ongoing review of the agency’s use of “microscopic hair comparison analysis” has disclosed that FBI hair analysts provided seriously inaccurate forensic testimony in a sixth capital case in Pennsylvania. Previously, the agency had reported that its hair examiners had presented scientifically unsupportable testimony for the prosecution purporting to "match" the hair of 32 other death-sentenced defendants to hair found at the crime scenes in those case. Of the now 33 death-sentenced cases in which the FBI admittedly provided flawed testimony, 10 have been in Florida; 6 in Pennsylvania; and 5 in Texas.
(Adam Hersh, "FBI: We Gave Flawed Testimony in 6 Pennsylvania Death Row Cases," Philadelphia Magazine, April 22, 2015). See Innocence and Arbitrariness.
Parents of Boy Killed in Marathon Bombing Ask Government to Drop Death Penalty
(photo: Boston Globe)
In a recent statement in the Boston Globe, Bill and Denise Richard, the parents of Martin Richard who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, asked the Justice Department to end its pursuit of a death sentence for the convicted defendant, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Excerpts follow:
The past two years have been the most trying of our lives....But now that the tireless and committed prosecution team has ensured that justice will be served, we urge the Department of Justice to bring the case to a close. We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal.
For us, the story of Marathon Monday 2013 should not be defined by the actions or beliefs of the defendant, but by the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city. We can never replace what was taken from us, but we can continue to get up every morning and fight another day. As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours. The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family.
(Bill & Denise Richard, "To end the anguish, drop the death penalty," Boston Globe (op-ed), April 17, 2015).
Jennifer Lemmerman, the sister of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing, also said Tsarnaev should be sentenced to life in prison.
BREAKING NEWS (4/18) Oklahoma's governor signed legislation allowing use of nitrogen gas for executions if lethal injection is not possible. Two other states have recently passed similar legislation. (Tenn.-electrocution; Utah-firing squad). See Methods of Execution.
(4/16) Nebraska's unicameral legislature preliminarily passed a bill to repeal the death penalty by a vote of 30-13. Additional votes are needed for final passage.
(4/10): Oklahoma's legislature passed a bill allowing use of nitrogen gas as an alternative method of execution; not yet signed by governor. See Methods of Execution.
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.