Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Not Last meal in 'Bama...

Supreme Court halts execution

Three-time killer David Larry Nelson ate his last meal and came within 2½ hours of death Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted his execution.

The 58-year-old Nelson, a 25-year resident on Alabama's Death Row, was to be executed for the 1978 New Year's Day slaying of Wilson Woodrow Thompson.

Nelson's attorneys filed papers for an appeal to the court early Thursday saying Nelson has collapsed veins and that lethal injection would be so painful it would be "cruel and unusual punishment."

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, nominated by former President Ronald Reagan, referred Nelson's request for a stay to the full court. The court's three-sentence order does not give an explanation for the reprieve, only that it will remain in effect until Nelson's appeal is considered.

If Nelson's appeal is denied, the stay automatically ends.

Prison officials said had the execution proceeded they would have first sought veins in both of Nelson's arms. If that failed, they would have tried veins in the neck and the leg before using a surgical procedure to make an incision cutting through skin tissue, fat and muscle to get directly to the vein.

Nelson on Thursday had already polished off his last meal of a fried bologna sandwich with lettuce and tomato, french fries and a sprite. and was visiting with family and friends when Atlanta lawyer Victoria Smith walked into the room and said, "Give me a hug. You got a stay."


In the 1978 killing, Nelson and his girlfriend, Linda Vice, met Thompson at a Birmingham lounge and went to Thompson's mobile home in Kimberly about 1:30 a.m. Nelson ordered his girlfriend to take off her clothes and then told Thompson he could perform oral sex on her. When he did, court records show, Nelson opened fire. The bullet passed through Thompson's neck and wounded Vice in her upper thigh.

Nelson shot his girlfriend two more times, but she survived.

Just hours before Thompson's slaying, Nelson shot and killed cab driver James Dewey Cash, whom he and Vice had met at a different lounge. Nelson was convicted in that slaying as well and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1971, Nelson was convicted of beating to death 82-year-old Oliver King in a Birmingham parking deck. He spent three years in prison for that killing.

Nelson once told a jury and a judge that he wanted to be executed. But when he was scheduled for execution in 1996, he received a stay because of a physician's statement that he could be a kidney donor for a seriously ill brother. The operation did not take place.

It seems that last Friday was "World Day Against the Death Penalty"

The press release from Amnesty International...

World Day Against the Death Penalty: Amnesty International Calls For Mobilization
Amnesty International calls on communities around the world to participate in the World Day against the Death Penalty, scheduled to take place today.

"Death is not justice. The death penalty violates the very foundation of human value and dignity. It is outrageous that states still carry out executions. No research has shown that it deters criminality more effectively than other punishments -- instead it fuels a culture of violence, is often applied in a discriminatory manner and has no place in a modern society respecting human rights values," said Irene Khan, Amnesty International Secretary General. "The organization is urging people in all countries to sign the on line petition calling on governments to cease executions immediately.

Around the world today activists will mobilize through manifestations, debates and seminars to increase the pressure on governments to abolish the death penalty, and to create awareness about this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

"The world is moving ever closer to getting rid of the death penalty, but much remains to be done," Amnesty International continued.

"Seventy-six countries have now abolished the death penalty for all crimes, and 16 for all but exceptional crimes. A further 20 countries are abolitionist in practice - they no longer carry out executions."

The latest country to join the list was Armenia, which in September ratified Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, an international treaty which abolishes the death penalty in peacetime.

"Despite the clear trend towards abolition, sadly some countries continue to execute prisoners," Amnesty International said. "People are still being legally executed by the state, by lethal injection, hanging, firing squad and even by stoning."

During 2003 to date, 57 people have been executed in the USA. There have been at least 83 executions in Iran and 40 in Saudi Arabia. In 2002 Amnesty International recorded 1,526 executions in 31 countries, 1,060 of which were in China [1].

In the report "West Africa: Time has come to abolish death penalty", published today, Amnesty International describes the situation in 16 West African countries regarding the death penalty. Three of the 16 countries have abolished the death penalty; only four have carried out executions in the past 10 years. Debates in the region and initiatives for criminal law reform are also described in the report.

"It's a good sign that many of the countries in this region haven't carried out any execution in the last 10 years. Now it is time for them all to take the full step and abolish the death both in law and in practice," Amnesty International emphasized.

The World Day against the Death Penalty is being organized by the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, an organization of trade unions, bar associations, local and regional governments and human rights organizations working for the universal abolition of capital punishment. Amnesty International is a member.


Still 83 countries refuse to follow the world trend - including the US, Japan, China, Nigeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan. Some of these countries even use the death penalty against people who were under 18 years old when he or she committed the crime.

In April this year, Scott Hain was executed in the state of Oklahoma, USA, for a crime he committed when he was only 17 years old.

As of September Christopher Padua, Ronald Bragas, Elmer Butal, Ramon Nicodemus, Saturani Panggayong and Roger Pagsibigan -- all of them imprisoned for crimes they committed when they were under 18 -- are waiting for their execution in cell 215 in a prison in the Philippines.

In May this year 15 year old Al-Taher Ahmad Hamdan was sentenced to death in Sudan.

Amnesty International also expresses concerns about the death penalty in Viet Nam where there has been a dramatic increase in executions during 2003. According to official statistics 80 people have been sentenced to death this year.

In China, which in past years has executed more people than any other country, the government has introduced so-called mobile execution vans, in an effort to improve cost-efficiency.

During 2002 Amnesty International recorded that 3,248 people were sentenced to death in 67 countries, and 1,526 men and women were executed in 31 countries. 1,060 executions in China and 113 executions in Iran, but the true number was believed to be much higher in both countries. Seventy-one people were executed in the USA.

Dateline: Iran

NYTimes (reg. req.)
Iranian Woman Faces Execution in Official's Death

TEHRAN, Oct. 4 — An Iranian woman accused of killing a police chief in southern Iran who she said tried to rape her has been convicted and is to be executed, the Shargh newspaper reported Saturday.

The woman, Afsaneh Noroozi, 32, who has been in jail since 1997, said during her trial that she stabbed the chief of police intelligence on the island of Kish in self-defense when he tried to rape her. The police chief, whose name has not been made public, was a friend of Ms. Noroozi's family, and she was at his house as a guest.

Her lawyer cited in her defense an article in Iran's Islamic penal code that allows citizens to take proportionate action to defend "life, honor, chastity, property, or freedom."

The newspaper reported that the final ruling, confirmed by a high-level court in August, was delivered to Ms. Noroozi in prison in the southern city of Bandar Abbas last week. Sentences are usually carried out a few days after the ruling is delivered.

Human rights workers and advocates for women's rights have condemned the ruling, saying that it is a violation of the right of a woman to defend her honor.

Three women who are members of Parliament recently sent a letter to the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, asking him to send the case to a different judge.

The only person who can grant clemency now is Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Amnesty International has recorded 83 executions this year in Iran.


...and is happy to report that family friendly Vegas is on life support and the new Vegas is sin-sational. We half-way expected ole Benny Binion to stroll thru the aisles of the Horseshoe.

But on to the matters at hand....