Today’s Death Row News, Oct. 22

  • Texas now not only has done away with last meal requests for inmates, but apparently they are feeding them less altogether. In the face of budget concerns, Texas prisons will no longer serve lunch on the weekends. Read more here.
  • South Dakota is altering its lethal injection procedures to allow for a one, two or three drug cocktail in the execution process, instead of the usual three-drug procedure that is usually used. The new system will allow the state to either use sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, the controversial new drug that was used in the Manuel Valle execution recently. Read more about the drugs and the responses to the move here.
  • There’s another name to add to the list of upcoming scheduled executions as Idaho has set a date for what will be only their second execution since 1957 and their first in almost 18 years. Paul Ezra Rhoades, convicted of killing three people in 1988, is slated for execution on November 18 at Idaho Maximum Security Institution, located south of Boise. The Idaho Statesman has an article about the crime and the reactions of the men who worked the case.
  • Another execution has been scheduled in Florida, and the inmate in question, Oba Chandler, is scrambling to file last minute appeals to save his life. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Phillip J. Federico held a hearing yesterday on a motion filed by the defense. TampaBay.com has an article with more details, which states that Chandler’s attorneys contend “Chandler’s constitutional rights were violated because some of the findings made by a judge in sentencing him to death should have been made by a jury instead. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the past that juries, not judges, should have the power to hand out death sentences. This summer a federal judge in Miami declared Florida’s death penalty statute unconstitutional for that very reason, which Harrison said opened the door for his last-ditch appeal.” The judge deferred on ruling until next week. There’s more about the hearing and what’s being argued here.
  • In other Florida news, a Tennessee death row inmate has been indicted in Florida in the 2003 death of Carlos Perez. Henry Lee Jones is already sitting on Tennessee’s death row for the slaying of a Memphis couple, and now Assistant State Attorney Michael Hunt says Florida may also seek the death penalty against Jones in the Perez case. That’s an expensive move when he’s  already facing certain death in another state.
  • There was a guest column published on OregonLive.com about the pressure on jurors in being part of a capital case jury. It’s a unique perspective on the issue and not one that’s often heard. The author writes,

Jurors indicate that a key factor causing them distress is the responsibility to make life-changing and (for death penalty cases) life-ending decisions. Jurors recognize that their verdict and sentencing decision affects not only the defendant, but also the victim and his or her family members.

Read more here: The Weight of ‘Playing God.’

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