NEWS (10/18): A Texas trial court has issued a 90-day stay of execution for Anthony Shore, who had been scheduled to be executed on October 18. See Upcoming Executions.
NEWS (10/18): The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a stay of execution to Clifton Young, to permit litigation of his claim that prosecutors obtained his conviction and death sentence through the use of false or misleading testimony. Young had been scheduled to be executed on October 26. See Upcoming Executions.
NEWS (10/18): The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has upheld the injunction issued by an Alabama federal district court on October 16 granting a stay of execution for Torrey McNabb. McNabb is scheduled to be executed on October 19. The Alabama Attorney General is expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the injunction and McNabb's lawyers have filed a petition for review in the Supreme Court asking it to take up the question of the lower court's ability to issue injunctions to prevent states from interfering with ongoing lethal injection litigation by seeking to execute the litigants. See Upcoming Executions.
NEWS (10/18): Acting on its own initiative, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted reconsideration of its prior decision affirming the death sentence imposed on Carnell Petetan, Jr. The Court will reconsider three claims presented by Petetan in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Moore v. Texas declaring unconstitutional Texas's method of determining whether an individual has Intellectual Disability.
NEWS (10/17): In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has upheld the death sentence imposed on Artez Hammond in Houston County, Alabama. The court held that District Attorney Doug Valeska had unconstitutionally commented on Hammonds's invocation of his Fifth Amendment right not to testify, despite having been previously ordered by the trial court not to do so, but said that Hammonds had not shown that the constitutional violation was prejudicial. Valeska has a long history of prosecutorial misconduct in capital cases, and the court said it was providing the Alabama State Bar with a copy of the opinion "for consideration of Valeska’s conduct."
NEWS (10/16): The U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of two Florida death penalty cases challenging instructions that told the jury their sentencing recommendation was "merely advisory." Over a dissent by Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Breyer and Ginsburg, the Court declined to review petitions filed by Quentin Truehill and Terence Oliver.
NEWS (10/16): The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the Florida Supreme Court's denial of death-row prisoner Tavares Wright's challenge to his death sentence on grounds of Intellectual Disability. The Court reversed and remanded Wright's case, directing the Florida courts to reconsider his intellectual disability claim in light of the constitutional standard set forth in Moore v. Texas. See U.S. Supreme Court, 2017-2018 Term.
NEWS (10/14): Former South Carolina death-row prisoner Steven Barnes has been sentenced to life in prison without parole in Edgefield County. Barnes's conviction and death sentence had been overturned by the South Carolina Supreme Court in 2013 and his retrial took place this month.
NEWS (10/14): A Duval County, Florida jury has unanimously recommended that Randall Deviney be resentenced to death. Deviney's prior death sentence had been overturned under the Florida Constitution and the Sixth Amendment because four of the jurors in his case had voted for life.
NEWS (10/12): Texas has executed Robert Pruett. It was the state's sixth execution this year and the 20th in the U.S. in 2017. See Executions in 2017.
NEWS (10/11): Rickey Dale Newman has been freed after 17 years on death row in Arkansas. He is the 160th person since 1972 to be exonerated after having been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. The Arkansas Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2014, finding that he was tried and sentenced to death while mentally incompetent. With no physical evidence linking Newman to the murder, prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges against him. See Exoneration List.
NEWS (10/10): A three-judge panel of the the United States Court of Appeals has voted 2-1 to reinstate William Kirkpatrick's habeas corpus petition challenging his conviction and death sentence in a 1983 murder. In dissent, Judge Alex Kozinski wrote: "My colleagues err repeatedly but it doesn’t much matter. ... [T]he people of California labor under the delusion that they live in a death penalty state." The state's "phantom death penalty," he wrote, "is a cruel and expensive hoax."
NEWS (10/10): Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has officially commuted the death sentence of Jason McGehee, one of the eight prisoners the state had scheduled for execution in April. The Arkansas Parole Board voted 6-1 on April 5 to recommend clemency and Governor Hutchinson announced his intention to grant clemency on August 25. See Clemency.
NEWS (10/10): The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the Texas courts' denial of death-row prisoner Obie Weathers's challenge to his death sentence on grounds of Intellectual Disability. The Court reversed and remanded Weathers's case, directing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to reconsider his intellectual disability claim in light of Moore v. Texas, which had declared unconstitutional the standard Texas had employed in rejecting claims of Intellectual Disability. See U.S. Supreme Court, 2017-2018 Term.
NEWS (10/9): The California Office of Administrative Law has rejected for the second time a lethal injection protocol promulgated by the state's Department of Corrections. The OAL indicated it would announce the reasons for its decision within a week.
NEWS (10/6): Florida Governor Rick Scott has issued a death warrant scheduling the execution Patrick Hannon for November 18.
NEWS (10/6): The Arkansas Parole Board has recommended that the clemency petition filed on behalf of Jack Greene be denied. Lawyers for Greene—who is seriously mental ill and delusional—have asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson to grant clemency despite the board's recommendation. They also have filed a motion asking the courts to declare Greene incompetent to be executed.
NEWS (10/5): Florida has executed Michael Lambrix. It was the second execution in Florida and the 19th in the United States in 2017.
NEWS (10/5): An Alabama federal district court granted a stay of execution to Jeffrey Borden, whom Alabama had scheduled for execution on October 5. The stay came one day after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to lift a previous stay of execution that had been granted by an Alabama federal appeals court. The Alabama Attorney General's office did not appeal the district court stay.
NEWS (10/5): The Nevada Supreme Court has affirmed a trial court ruling denying the state habeas corpus petition filed by Donte Johnson challenging his conviction and death sentence.
UPDATE (10/5): In a plea deal reached with Georgia prosecutors, Steven Murray has agreed to plead guilty to the murder of Father Rene Robert (pictured), a Franciscan priest from the Diocese of St. Augustine, and be sentenced to life without possibility of parole. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty despite a "statement of life" left by Father Rene in which requested that the death penalty not be used "under any circumstances" if he were to be killed. On January 31, Catholic Bishops from Georgia and Florida had traveled to Augusta to meet with prosecutors in an effort to persuade them to drop the capital charges.
NEWS (10/4): The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed a trial court order overturning Hector Medina's death sentence, ruling that his trial counsel's refusal to present any penalty-phase defense constituted ineffective assistance of counsel.
NEWS (10/4): A divided Ohio Supreme Court voted 4-3 to overturn the capital conviction of Joseph L. Thomas, who was sentenced to death by a Lake County jury in 2012. The Court ruled that prosecutors had improperly presented inadmissible and "highly prejudicial" evidence that Thomas owned five knives, none of which was used in the killing.
NEWS (10/4): A Duval County, Florida trial court has overturned the death sentences imposed on Pinkney Carter and ordered that he be given a new sentencing hearing. Carter had been sentenced to death on two counts of murder after his sentencing jury had split on the appropriate sentence. Three jurors voted for life on one count and four voted for life on the second count.
NEWS (10/3): The death warrant that had scheduled Keith Tharpe's execution in Georgia for a week commencing on September 26 has expired. Nearly 3½ hours after his execution was scheduled to begin on September 26, the U.S. Supreme Court granted him a stay of execution to determine whether to review his claim that he was unconstitutionally sentenced to death because a whie juror who sat on his case referred to him with a racial epithet and said he doubted "if black people even have souls."
NEWS (10/2): The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review the cases of two Texas death-row prisoners facing imminent execution dates. The Court denied petitions for writ of certiorari filed by Robert Pruett, who is scheduled to be executed on October 12, and Anthony Shore, whose execution is set for October 18. In its first-Monday-in-October orders, the Court also denied review in a number of other death-penalty cases at various stages of appellate review.
NEW RESOURCES — DPIC Analysis of the Causes of Wrongful Capital Convictions.
An examination of data from the more than 30 death-row exonerations in the past decade shows that most common causes of wrongful convictions in death penalty cases are official misconduct and perjury/false accusation. For more information and analysis, see our updated webpage on the Causes of Wrongful Convictions in Death Penalty Cases.
DPIC has moved. As of June 30, 2017, our new office address is 1701 K Street, NW, Suite 205, Washington, DC 20006. Our web and email addresses and phone contact information remain the same.
DPIC 2016 Year End Report
ANOTHER RECORD DECLINE IN DEATH PENALTY USE
- Full text of the report.*
- VIDEO: "The Death Penalty in the U.S. " (A 2 minute video summary of the Year End Report).
- INFOGRAPHIC: "The Death Penalty in the U.S.".
- DPIC's Press Release.
- 2016 Death Sentences by Name, Race, and County
* DPIC initially reported that 30 new death sentences had been imposed in 2016. Further research revealed that a 31st death sentence, imposed on Vahtiece Kirkman in Florida, was a new death sentence rather than a capital resentencing, and should have been counted.
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.