Updated: May 16, 2022

News Brief

Kareem Jackson Receives Fourth Execution Reprieve in Ohio, Execution Date Re-Set for 2025

May 14, 2022

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has issued a reprieve to death-row pris­on­er Kareem Jackson, call­ing off his sched­uled September 15, 2022 exe­cu­tion and set­ting a new December 10, 2025 exe­cu­tion date. In a news release, the governor’s office said that the reprieve had been issued due to ongo­ing prob­lems involv­ing the will­ing­ness of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sup­pli­ers to pro­vide drugs to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), pur­suant to DRC pro­to­col, with­out endan­ger­ing oth­er Ohioans.”

Pharmaceutical com­pa­nies have told DeWine that they will not sell their med­i­cines to the state for use in exe­cu­tions and that if the state diverts drugs sold for ther­a­peu­tic use to car­ry out exe­cu­tions, they may stop sell­ing their med­i­cines to the state. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that such an action could endan­ger the abil­i­ty of thou­sands of Ohioans — such as Medicaid recip­i­ents, state troop­ers, and prison inmates — to get drugs through state programs.”

Jackson was con­vict­ed of two mur­ders and sen­tenced to death in 1997. This is the fourth time Governor DeWine has issued a reprieve of Jackson’s exe­cu­tion and the eighth reprieve of an Ohio exe­cu­tion sched­uled for 2022. On March 7, 2019, DeWine halt­ed Jackson’s exe­cu­tion, then sched­uled for July 10, 2019, and resched­uled it for January 16, 2020. He issued a sec­ond reprieve on October 30, 2019, resched­ul­ing Jackson’s exe­cu­tion for September 16, 2020. That exe­cu­tion was halt­ed on June 5, 2020 and resched­uled for September 152022

Read More »

Florida Death Penalty Lawyer Marty McClain, the Gold Standard’ of Capital Representation, Has Died

Mar 11, 2022

Marty McClain, a Florida cap­i­tal defense lawyer who rep­re­sent­ed the state’s death-row pris­on­ers for more than 30 years, died March 7, 2022 at the age of 67. McClain was a tow­er­ing pres­ence in Florida cap­i­tal lit­i­ga­tion, rep­re­sent­ing more than 300 death-sen­tenced peti­tion­ers in post-con­vic­tion appeals before the Florida Supreme Court. He was respon­si­ble for the exon­er­a­tions of mul­ti­ple inno­cent death-row pris­on­ers, includ­ing Juan Roberto Melendez, and is cred­it­ed with lead­ing efforts to elim­i­nate the elec­tric chair as Florida’s pri­ma­ry exe­cu­tion method. His advo­ca­cy for Terrance Phillips McClain, a Black cap­i­tal defen­dant sen­tenced to death by Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey, who report­ed­ly said Blacks should go back to Africa,” led to Hulsey’s res­ig­na­tion from the bench.

McClain received acco­lades from col­leagues, as well as judges who presided over his cas­es. Former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Pariente told The News Service of Florida, Marty McClain, in my view, set the gold stan­dard for advo­ca­cy for Death Row inmates.” Former Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry called McClain the best I’ve seen.” He was com­pas­sion­ate and he cared about it and he was pre­pared and he was not afraid to push the enve­lope,” Perry said. He was cre­ative and on point as it relates to the law. He’s one of the few attor­neys whose names I remem­ber. I’m telling you the truth. You see them. They come and go. But Marty McClain, he was an icon. He’s a loss to the whole jus­tice sys­tem and the legal system.”

Todd Scher, a fel­low death-penal­ty lawyer, called McClain a pas­sion­ate advo­cate for his clients and for the cause of expos­ing injus­tice and unfair­ness in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.” He wrote, In the world of cap­i­tal lit­i­ga­tion, Marty was and will for­ev­er be a titan, a peer­less mentor.”

Read More »

Tennessee Sets Three Execution Dates for Most-in-Nation 5 Pending Executions in 2022

Mar 05, 2022

The Tennessee Supreme Court has issued death war­rants set­ting exe­cu­tion dates for three pris­on­ers, bring­ing to five — the nation’s‑high — the num­ber of exe­cu­tions pend­ing in the state in 2022. On February 22, 2022, the court set exe­cu­tion dates of August 18 for Byron Black, October 6 for Gary Sutton, and December 8 for Donald Middlebrooks. The court had pre­vi­ous­ly set exe­cu­tion dates of April 21 for Oscar Smith and June 9 for Harold Nichols.

Black has pre­sent­ed evi­dence that he is inel­i­gi­ble for the death penal­ty because of intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty but had been pre­vent­ed from lit­i­gat­ing that issue because of a pro­ce­dur­al defect in Tennessee’s post-con­vic­tion process. The state enact­ed a new law ear­li­er cre­at­ing a legal mech­a­nism to review intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty claims, and Black has a peti­tion pend­ing under that law. Middlebrooks’ lawyers argue that he is severe­ly men­tal­ly ill and incom­pe­tent to be exe­cut­ed. The Tennessee Supreme Court remand­ed his case to the Davidson County (Nashville) tri­al court for a deter­mi­na­tion of his com­pe­ten­cy. To ensure the deter­mi­na­tion of Mr. Middlebrooks’ com­pe­ten­cy to be exe­cut­ed occurs in close prox­im­i­ty to his sched­uled exe­cu­tion date, the court direct­ed Middlebrooks’ coun­sel to file his peti­tion alleg­ing incom­pe­ten­cy to be exe­cut­ed in the tri­al court no soon­er than October 3, 2022, and no lat­er than October 5, 2022.

As of March 4, eleven exe­cu­tion dates were pend­ing across the United States in 2022: five in Tennessee, four in Texas, and one each in Missouri and Ohio (click to enlarge graph­ic). Ten pre­vi­ous Ohio death war­rants that sched­uled exe­cu­tions for 2022 have been resched­uled or halt­ed by stays of exe­cu­tion, reprieves, or the death of the pris­on­er and the remain­ing exe­cu­tion date in Ohio is not expect­ed to go forward. 

Read More »

Two Death-Row Prisoners with Innocence Claims Die on Death Row, Two Days Apart.

Feb 26, 2022

Two death-row pris­on­ers who have long assert­ed their inno­cence, one in North Carolina and the oth­er in Alabama, have died of can­cer on their state’s death rows.

Carl Moseley, who was diag­nosed with stage 4 stom­ach can­cer in June 2021, died on February 17, 2022, after spend­ing 30 years on death row in North Carolina for the mur­ders of two women last seen at a Forsythe County dance club and bar. He was 56 years old. Earlier in the day, his lawyer, Christine Mumma of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, the state attor­ney general’s office, and local pros­e­cu­tors had filed a con­sent order for DNA test­ing in his case. Mumma said she would press for posthu­mous tes­ti­mo­ny to ful­fill Moseley’s wish to clear his name.

On February 19, 2022, William Kuenzel (pic­tured, left, with his appeal lawyer, David Kochman) died on Alabama’s death row after what his legal team described as a long bat­tle with can­cer.” He was 60 years old. Kuenzel spent 34 years on death row after being sen­tenced to death in 1988 for the mur­der of a store clerk in a tri­al that last­ed only 14 hours. The evi­dence pre­sent­ed against him con­sist­ed of tes­ti­mo­ny by a co-work­er, Harvey Venn, who impli­cat­ed Kuenzel only after being arrest­ed for the mur­der him­self, and a teenage eye­wit­ness who claimed to have seen Kuenzel and Venn in the store that night. The only phys­i­cal evi­dence of the crime was blood found on Venn’s pants.

Kuenzel had a cor­rob­o­rat­ed ali­bi that put him 25 miles away from the store at the time of the mur­der with no access to a car. His court-appoint­ed coun­sel con­duct­ed min­i­mal fac­tu­al inves­ti­ga­tion in the case. The pros­e­cu­tion with­held from the defense evi­dence that Venn had the same type of gun that was used in the mur­der and had bruis­es con­sis­tent with dam­age done to the victim’s body; that the teenage eye­wit­ness had told the grand jury in the case that she could not iden­ti­fy the men in the store that night; that Venn’s 13-year-old girl­friend told the police and the grand jury that she saw Venn that night and that he was alone; and that when Venn was first arrest­ed, he said that he was with a dif­fer­ent per­son the night of the mur­der, gave a descrip­tion of the man and his name and address, but the police nev­er tried to find the man. No court ever reviewed the evi­dence of Kuenzel’s inno­cence because his lawyers missed a fil­ing dead­line by five months. 

Read More »

Ohio Governor Issues Three More Reprieves, Reschedules Executions for 2025

Feb 19, 2022

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has issued reprieves of three more exe­cu­tions that had been set to occur in 2022, resched­ul­ing them for 2025. In exec­u­tive orders issued February 18, 2022, DeWine halt­ed the exe­cu­tions of Percy Hutton, Douglas Coley, and Cedric Carter, who had been sched­uled to be put to death June 22, July 20, and August 24, 2022, respec­tive­ly. The gov­er­nor resched­uled Hutton’s exe­cu­tion for June 18, 2025, Coley’s for September 24, 2025, and Carter’s for August 272025.

A news release from the gov­er­nor’s office said DeWine issued the reprieves in response to ongo­ing prob­lems involv­ing the will­ing­ness of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sup­pli­ers to pro­vide drugs” for use in exe­cu­tions with­out endan­ger­ing oth­er Ohioans.” Drug man­u­fac­tur­ers had informed the gov­er­nor that they would halt sell­ing med­i­cines to state facil­i­ties if Ohio divert­ed drugs that had been sold for med­ical use and instead used them in executions.

Ohio last car­ried out an exe­cu­tion in July 2018. Of the 68 exe­cu­tion dates set for August 2018 through the end of 2022, 45 have been resched­uled after being halt­ed by reprieves issued by for­mer Governor John Kasich or by Gov. DeWine, 9 have been stayed by the courts, 8 have been with­drawn or oth­er­wise resched­uled, one death sen­tence has been com­mut­ed, and 4 pris­on­ers have died of nat­ur­al caus­es on death row. It is expect­ed that Governor DeWine will issue anoth­er reprieve and resched­ule the pend­ing September 15, 2022 exe­cu­tion date for Kareem Jackson.

Read More »