Here’s the latest in news from America’s death rows:
- In Ohio, the governor commuted a death row inmate’s sentence to life in prison without parole. It is the second time he has commuted a death sentence in three months, and this one is interesting because the guilt of the inmate is not being questioned. However, because of his young age at the time of the crime and his brutal upbringing, which included severe verbal, physical and sexual abuse, the governor said the death penalty was inappropriate for him.
- In North Carolina two men who pled guilty to murder charges to avoid the death penalty were exonerated after a decade in prison. The men had always maintained their innocence, but pled to murder 2 in order out of fear of the death penalty.
- In Florida, an inmate has been sentenced to death for a second time. Rodney Lowe was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of store clerk Donna Burnell. Florida’s Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Lowe should receive a new sentencing trial to decide whether he should serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years or a death sentence. The ruling came after new evidence indicated that Lowe might not have acted alone. Jury selection began two weeks ago on September 12, and defense attorneys tried to introduce evidence of what Lowe’s life after 21 years on death row was like, however a judge ruled that it was not relevant.
- In other Florida news, Manuel Valle, who I’ve written about previously, will be executed on Wednesday, barring any last minute stays from the Supreme Court. He still has an appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, but all other appeals have been denied. Following the highly criticized execution of Troy Davis, Valle’s upcoming execution has been getting more attention and Florida officials are feeling the pressure. According to this article from The Examiner protests are being planned by the ACLU of Florida and other organizations. There has also been an emergency petition filed by a British neurologist who says that using the Danish-made drug scheduled to be used on Wednesday will violate the federal Controlled Substance Act. The federal law prohibits using the drug for non-medicinal purposes however the FDA has declined to enforce the ban when it comes to executions.
- Almost a week after the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia, his funeral has been set for Saturday, October 1st in Savannah. The service is open to the public and the information can be found here, but it has also been scheduled as an international Day of Remembrance to honor Troy’s life.