death penalty

Montgomery County Sheriff's Department

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal of a Virginia death row inmate who killed two people during an escape.

William Morva's attorney argued before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in March that he was improperly denied a chance to show that he wouldn't do it again if spared the death penalty.

But a three-judge panel of the court rejected his claims Thursday and affirmed the lower court's ruling.

creative commons

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments on the constitutionality of the state's death penalty.
The court has asked the attorney general's office and state public defender's office to prepare for arguments June 15.

The court agreed in January to answer questions from Delaware's Superior Court to determine whether the state's death penalty law meets constitutional muster. Meanwhile, all death penalty trials in Delaware are on hold.

creative commons

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's attorney general says he doesn't believe a proposal to allow the state to obtain lethal injection drugs from anonymous compounding pharmacies would violate federal law.

Republican Del. Jackson Miller had asked Attorney General Mark Herring for an opinion before lawmakers reconvene Wednesday to consider Gov. Terry McAuliffe's proposal.

In his opinion released late Tuesday, Herring rejected the argument that federal law allows pharmacies to compound drugs only with a valid prescription.

amnestyusa.org

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A coalition of several hundred religious leaders is urging Virginia lawmakers to reject a proposal to conceal the identities of pharmacies supplying drugs to be used in executions.

Several representatives of the interfaith coalition are scheduled to discuss their objections at a news conference Monday at the General Assembly Building in Richmond.

Lethal injection drugs have been hard to obtain in Virginia and other states. That situation prompted Del. Jackson Miller to propose allowing Virginia to use the electric chair if drugs aren't available.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Religious leaders are urging Gov. Terry McAuliffe to veto a bill that would allow the state to force condemned inmates to die in the electric chair.

Three hundred faith leaders from Virginia and across the county said in a statement Thursday that the electric chair is a "barbarous relic" that kills inmates with "unspeakable cruelty." They say they have a "moral responsibility" to preserve all lives, even those whose actions they "deplore."

amnestyusa.org

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Virginia death row inmate is taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court after his execution was stayed by a federal appeals court.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily halted Ivan Teleguz's execution, pending review of his petition by the nation's highest court. Teleguz was set to be executed on April 13.

Teleguz was convicted in 2006 of hiring another man to kill his former girlfriend. Since then, two key prosecution witnesses have recanted.

amnestyusa.org

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Prosecutors are arguing to the Delaware Supreme Court that the state's capital punishment process is constitutional, despite two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that raise questions about the state's law.

Attorneys from the Delaware Department of Justice earlier this week filed a 44-page brief refuting arguments made by public defenders that Delaware's statute is unconstitutional because judges, not juries, have the final say in imposing a death sentence.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court has allowed the American Civil Liberties Union and Harvard University academics to weigh in as it prepares to answer questions regarding the constitutionality of Delaware's death penalty statute.

The justices on Tuesday agreed to accept friend-of-the-court briefs from ACLU-Delaware and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A bill that would force condemned inmates to die by the electric chair if the state can't find lethal injection drugs is one step closer to final approval in Virginia.

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 9-5 to endorse the bill Wednesday, sending it to the full Republican-controlled Senate. The bill sailed through the GOP-dominated House last month. A spokesman for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, has declined to say whether he would support the bill.

Virginia Department of Corrections

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Virginia lawmaker is joining a chorus of voices across numerous states pushing officials to reveal the source of drugs used in lethal-injection executions.

Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell's measure appears to have little chance, however: A subcommittee that examined the measure Tuesday voted 4-1 against it.

A number of states have passed secrecy laws to stabilize their execution drug supplies. Officials say the laws protect companies that fear retaliation for their association with the death penalty.

creative commons

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A Superior Court judge has halted all trials and penalty hearings in capital murder cases while Delaware's Supreme Court mulls the constitutionality of the state's death penalty law.

The order was issued Monday President Judge Jan Jurden, head of the Superior Court system. Last week, the Supreme Court accepted several questions submitted by a Superior Court judge regarding the roles of judges and juries in Delaware death penalty cases.

amnestyusa.org

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Proponents of a defeated measure to abolish Delaware's death penalty say they'll continue fighting until capital punishment is outlawed.

The legislation failed Thursday in the state House, getting 16 of the 21 votes needed for passage. Twenty-three lawmakers voted against the bill, which cleared the Senate last year by a single vote.

Supporters said they would try to resurrect the measure after a five-week break for budget meetings.

mug shot

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A Delaware judge has overturned the conviction and death sentence of a man found guilty in the shooting deaths of two men in Wilmington 20 years ago.

In a ruling Wednesday, the judge questioned the fundamental legality and fairness of Luis Reyes' trial.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill to abolish Delaware's death penalty.

The bill to be voted on Thursday narrowly cleared the Senate last year, but had been languishing in a House committee until the committee chairman agreed last week to release it.

Judiciary Committee members voted 6-to-5 last May not to send the bill to the full House after it narrowly cleared the Senate on an 11-to-9 vote.

Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has said he would sign the measure if it reaches his desk.

Department of Correction

A videotaped confession in the murder case of freed former death row inmate Jermaine Wright will be allowed to be used by prosecutors in the retrial.

Delaware’s Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that threw out the confession in the 1991 death of Phillip Seifert.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the confession was a key element in the state’s death penalty case when Wright was tried twenty years ago.

The paper reports that this means Wright will be taken into custody to await his trial.

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The final forum yesterday for the Access to Justice Commission Committee heard calls for smarter reforms of the criminal justice system.

Much of the testimony surrounded issues ranging from ending bail and reducing mandatory sentencing to ending the three strikes law and the death penalty.

The Wilmington News Journal reports Carri Seward with the Delaware Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow told the panel that the harm that has been done to the African American community needs to be repaired.

creative commons

BALTIMORE (AP) - U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are issuing an election-year guide stressing a moral imperative to evaluate candidates according to their positions on marriage and abortion.

The bishops adopted the guide called "Faithful Citizenship" at their national assembly Tuesday in Baltimore. The document was approved overwhelmingly in a vote at the event.

The statement was especially watched for how much it reflected the priorities of Pope Francis, who was elected two years ago.

amnestyusa.org

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A law professor says a decline in death sentences in Virginia is at least partly due to more vigorous legal representation during the sentencing phase of capital murder trials.

Brandon Garrett of the University of Virginia released results of his study of Virginia's death penalty Monday.

Virginia Department of Corrections

JARRATT, Va. (AP) - A convicted serial killer who faced the death penalty in two states has become the first inmate to be executed in nearly three years in Virginia.

Alfredo Prieto was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m. Thursday at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.

Virginia has long been among the most prolific death penalty states, but had not put an inmate to death since January 2013 before this week.

Virginia Department of Corrections

A scheduled federal court hearing on a Virginia inmate's challenge of the state's use of lethal injection drugs from Texas has been set for 1 p.m. in Richmond.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga had scheduled a hearing for 2 p.m. Thursday in Alexandria after Alfredo Prieto's attorneys asked the court to halt his execution until officials disclose more information about the drugs they plan to use.

But the hearing was canceled late Wednesday after Trenga approved the state's request to transfer the case to Richmond.

amnestyusa.org

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has denied a last-minute attempt to delay the execution of a convicted serial killer who claims that he's intellectually disabled.

Alfredo Prieto's attorneys had asked McAuliffe to grant a temporary reprieve of his Oct. 1 execution so that the 49-year-old can be transferred to California. His lawyers there hope to argue that Prieto is ineligible for the death penalty because he's intellectually disabled.

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With nearly 60% of the prison population in Delaware consisting of African American inmates, while blacks only make up less than a quarter of the population, a group consisting of Complexities of Color Coalition, the Delaware NAACP and the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware are holding a town hall in Lewes. The meeting will focus on specific policy changes in the criminal justice system ranging from law enforcement and legal penalties to repeal of the death penalty. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush spoke with Dr.

amnestyusa.org

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A group that advocates for people with intellectual disabilities wants Gov. Terry McAuliffe to delay the execution of a man convicted of killing two George Washington students in 1988.

Alfredo Prieto's attorneys have asked McAuliffe to grant a temporary reprieve of his Oct. 1 execution so he can be transferred to California and assessed on whether he's intellectually disabled.

amnestyusa.org

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A bill to abolish Delaware's death penalty has failed to clear a House committee after winning narrow passage in the Senate last month.

After a two-and-a-half hour hearing Wednesday, members of the House Judiciary Committee voted 6-to-5 not to send the bill to the full House.

Supporters of the bill argued that the death penalty is racially unfair, costly, morally wrong, and ineffective as a deterrent to crime. Opponents argued that capital punishment is justified as a form of punishment for first-degree murder.

legis.delaware.gov

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A House committee is set to hold a pivotal hearing on legislation to abolish Delaware's death penalty.

The bill narrowly cleared the Senate last month. The chief House sponsor of the bill, however, concedes that he probably doesn't have enough votes in the judiciary committee to send the bill to the House floor.

Democratic Rep. Sean Lynn of Dover says he plans to take the politically risky option of trying to suspend rules and bring the bill straight to the floor.

repeal project facebook

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has come out in support of an effort to repeal Delaware's death penalty.

Markell said Thursday that if a bill to abolish capital punishment reaches his desk, he would sign it.

In recent years, Markell has refused to say where he stands on the issue.

But Markell said the recent acknowledgment by the FBI that examiners in its microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in more than 250 criminal cases, including death penalty cases, before 2000, helped him reach a decision.

amenstyusa.org

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - For the better part of three decades, Virginia operated one of the busiest execution chambers in the nation. Not anymore.

Statistics compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center show that Virginia has sent only six people to death row in the last nine years after sending 40 over the previous eight years. As a result, the state only has eight inmates awaiting execution - down from a high of 57 in 1995.

amnestyusa.org

A new poll finds that 63 percent of Delawareans still support the death penalty.

The survey was carried out in mid-April by Public Policy Polling of just under 600 Delaware residents.

The company was hired by the Delaware Center for Justice which is seeking to end the death penalty in the First State.

The survey found that 34 percent opposed or were somewhat opposed to capital punishment.

delaware repeal project facebook

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate is set to vote on a bill to abolish Delaware's death penalty.

The legislation, which cleared a Senate committee last week, mirrors a bill that passed the Senate in 2013 by only one vote before dying in a House committee.

The legislation removes execution as a possible punishment for first-degree murder, leaving life in prison without the possibility of parole as the only sentence.

The bill, which faces opposition from the law enforcement community, would not apply to inmates currently on death row.

delaware repeal project - facebook

The repeal of Delaware’s death penalty inched forward this week with a Senate committee approving the legislation that excludes the 15 inmates currently on death row.

Senator Karen Peterson is cosponsor of the measure.

And, the Stanton Democrat along with other supporters of repeal says that capital punishment is not only costly but has been applied in a morally discriminatory fashion.

This is not the first time that repeal has headed to the full Senate for approval.

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