Today’s Death Row News, November 27

  • Idaho executes first convicted killer in 17 years: Idaho carried out their first execution in 17 years with the lethal injection of Paul Ezra Rhoades on Friday, Nov. 18. Rhoades was convicted of abducting and murdering two Idaho women in 1987. Rhoades was reportedly “anxious and lucid” in the days leading up to his death and ate a last meal of hot dogs, baked beans and strawberry ice cream.The execution was scheduled to take place at 8 a.m. but was delayed by a motion filed at 3 a.m. Friday morning. However, the motion was denied and the execution was carried out at 9:05 a.m. In his final statement, Rhoades took responsibility for one of the murders, but claimed there were more people involved in the other crimes. Read more about the execution and last statement here:
  • Two exonerated death row inmates tie the knot: Most married couples will tell you that the things they hold in common helped cement their relationships. For Sonia Jacobs, 64, and Peter Pringle, 73, married in New York last Sunday, common ground was the decade and a half each had served on death row before their convictions were overturned for the murders that they steadfastly maintained they did not commit.
  • Court upholds tough standard of proof for death-row inmates: A divided federal appeals court on Tuesday let stand Georgia’s tough burden of proof required of death-penalty defendants seeking to prove they are mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ 7-4 decision means Georgia is the only state in the country that sets the highest barrier for defendants raising such claims to escape execution. Dissenting judges said it will lead to mentally disabled inmates being executed. “This utterly one-sided risk of error is all the more intolerable when the individual right at stake is a question of life or death,” Judge Rosemary Barkett wrote in her dissent.
  • Grandfather, 79, dies after nurse gives him execution drug rather than over-the-counter medicine: In a horrifying turn of events, a Miami hospital nurse gave 79-year-old grandfather Richard Smith a drug used in state executions rather than the over-the-counter antacid he was prescribed. Rather than picking up Pepcid, nurse Uvo Ologboride picked up a vial of Pancuronium and injected the former teacher with it instead. Pancuronium is used in lethal injections and is a muscle relaxant. Smith’s heart stopped after he was given the drug and then left alone for 30 minutes. Doctors resuscitated him but he never recovered and died a few weeks later.
  • California Death Row inmate commits suicide: A California death row inmate who was convicted of killing a 9-year-old boy in a park restroom has committed suicide. Prison officials say Brandon Wilson, 33, was found hanging in his cell Thursday morning, Nov. 17 shortly before 7 a.m.
  • Death row inmates’ desire to die renews debate: Serial wife-killer Jerry Stanley wants to die. Imprisoned on death row for the past 28 years, Stanley insists he deserves execution for the cold-blooded killing of his fourth wife in 1980 and for shooting to death his second wife five years earlier in front of their two children.He is one of at least three condemned men on the nation’s death rows volunteering to expedite their sentences. Gary Haugen, an Oregon man convicted of killing his former girlfriend’s mother in 1980, and a fellow inmate in 2003, was ruled competent in September and faced a Dec. 6 death by lethal injection until Gov. John Kitzhaber just days ago banned further executions during his term. The third, Eric Robert, killed a guard at his South Dakota prison in April while serving an 80-year sentence for kidnapping. He has vowed to kill again until his death wish is granted.

    Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida and other states with more frequent executions see more inmates asking their lawyers to drop appeals, said Blume, who believes that more than 10% of the 1,277 executed nationwide since 1977 had lost the will to live by the time they were executed.

  • Lawyer for Ark. death row inmate says failure to toss tweeting juror should require new trial: Attorneys for an Arkansas death row inmate ague that the inmate should have his conviction overturned because a judge failed to dismiss a juror caught tweeting during the trial. Erickson Dimas-Martinez’s attorney told justices the juror was tweeting during her client’s 2010 trial for the slaying of Derrick Jefferson, despite the judge’s instruction to not to post on the Internet or otherwise or communicate with anyone about the case. “He’s paying more attention to his Twittering than the evidence,” said Janice Vaughn with the Arkansas Public Defender Commission.Courts in Arkansas and around the country are grappling with problems caused by jurors using Twitter, Facebook or other online services during trials. In 2009, a Washington County judge dismissed an attempt to overturn a $12.6 million judgment against a building materials company, despite the firm’s complaint that a juror’s Twitter posts showed bias.
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