Slate – The Capital Punishment Cover-Up

Virginia wants to hide “all information relating to the execution process.”

Greensville Correctional Center near Jarratt, Virginia, lethal injection gurney The gurney used for administering lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center near Jarratt, Virginia.
Photo by the Virginia Department of Corrections via Getty Images




A series of botched executions in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona last year raised serious new questions about how death penalty drugs are administered. They have drawn fresh scrutiny from the Supreme Court itself, which agreed last month to assess whether a lethal injection cocktail used in Oklahoma violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. A month ago Ohio announced that officials would stop using one of the drugs in the current protocol, midazolam, after a botched execution involving untested drugs last year. And on Friday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced that the state would postpone all seven scheduled 2015 executions, partly because of questions surrounding the controversial drug cocktail Ohio had been using.



Slate – The Price of Death: Why capital punishment cases are in steep decline, even in Texas.

Randall County, Texas. Randall County, Texas.

Photo courtesy Charles Henry/Flickr

This investigation was reported and written by Maurice Chammah for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

Just before sunrise on a spring morning last year, Larry Maples shot and killed his wife, Heather. He had tracked her to the home of a former boyfriend, a ranch hand named Moses Clemente. Maples shot and wounded Clemente. He then called 911, handed his Colt .45 revolver over to the sheriff’s deputies and confessed.

It was a shocking event for Van Zandt County, a largely agricultural swath of East Texas with roughly 50,000 residents. The local authorities had never sent someone to death row, but Maples—by shooting Clemente along with Heather Maples and thereby aggravating the murder—qualified for the death penalty under state law. It was up to the young district attorney, Chris Martin, to decide whether to seek that punishment.

Martin had been telling reporters he might seek the death penalty, but behind closed doors with the victim’s family and Clemente, the D.A. said he wasn’t sure the case was strong enough to convince a jury that Maples should be executed.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch: Cuccinelli, Earley ask Texas to spare life of mentally ill killer

By FRANK GREEN Richmond Times-Dispatch Richmond.com

Two former Virginia attorneys general are among a dozen conservatives who have signed a letter asking Texas Gov. Rick Perry to spare the life of a mentally ill man set to be executed Wednesday.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Scott Panetti, 56, was sentenced to death for the 1992 slayings of his in-laws in their Fredericksburg, Texas, home, later telling police his alter ego, “Sarge,” was responsible.

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