Death-Penalty News and Developments for the Week of August 12 – 18

Death-Penalty News and Developments for the Week of August 12 – 18

NEWS—August 13: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has denied Dexter Johnson’s petition for writ of certiorari and motion for stay of execution, clearing the way for Texas to execute Johnson on August 14. The court refused to address the merits of the claims filed by Johnson’s lawyers. Johnson, who has diagnoses of brain damage, schizophrenia, and impaired intellectual functioning, was 18 at the time of the offense for which was sentenced to death.

NEWS—August 13: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has denied the clemency petition filed on behalf of death-row prisoner Stephen Michael West. West’s lawyers had argued that he should be spared because of his serious mental illness, which was caused or exacerbated by a relentless childhood history of physical abuse and neglect, and that, while he was present at the murders, his co-defendant was the actual killer.

NEWS—August 13: The Arizona Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction and death sentence of James Clayton Johnson for the 2010 stabbing death of a woman in a Maricopa County massage parlor. The court rejected Johnson’s challenge that Arizona’s death penalty, as administered in Maricopa County, encompasses so many murders that it violates the Eighth Amendment requirement of genuinely narrowing the class of cases than can result in a death sentence.

NEWS—August 12: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has denied a certificate of appealability to Utah death-row prisoner Ronald Lafferty, declining to permit him to appeal a federal district court’s decision that upheld his conviction and death sentence for the murders of two women. Lafferty’s case, which was the subject of the book Under the Banner of Heaven, attracted attention because of the association between the murders and his leadership of an alleged polygamist cult.