News and Updates

Ex-judges, prosecutors backing Va death row inmate

A Virginia death row inmate is getting some high-powered support in his bid for freedom.

By: Associated Press
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thirty-four former judges and prosecutors have filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging a federal appeals court to affirm the reversal of Justin Michael Wolfe's murder-for-hire conviction. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case on May 17.

Wolfe, now 31, was sentenced to death for the 2001 slaying of his marijuana supplier, Daniel Petrole, in Prince William County. U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson threw out Wolfe's conviction last July, saying the prosecution suppressed evidence and knowingly used false testimony from its star witness, shooter Owen Barber.

The Virginia attorney general's office is appealing Jackson's ruling.

Trayvon Martin death: thousands march in town where teenager was shot

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson among the speakers at rally as protesters vow to continue until arrest is made

Credit: David Manning/Reuters
Jesse Jackson, centre right, joins the protest march over the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
By: Associated Press
The Guardian
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thousands of people have joined a march through Sanford, the Florida town where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, vowing to continue their protests until an arrest is made.

Alabama death penalty case far from over

By: The Associated Press
The Daily Comet
Thursday, March 29, 2012

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Though the scheduled Thursday execution of Thomas Douglas Arthur had been halted, the legal battle over the man convicted of a 1982 murder-for-hire is far from over.

U.S. judge bars import of drug used in death penalty

By: Jeremy Pelofsky
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A U.S. judge on Tuesday barred U.S. authorities from importing an anesthesia drug used in carrying out death sentences because the Food and Drug Administration never approved the drug for use in the United States, and he ordered supplies be confiscated.

A group of death row inmates had sued the FDA last year over improperly allowing shipments into the country of sodium thiopental, a sedative used as the first of three drugs administered in carrying out executions.

America had 5th most executions of any nation in 2011, Amnesty International says

By: Associated Press
Austin American-Statesman
Monday, March 26, 2012

The United States was the only Western democracy that executed prisoners last year, even as an increasing number of U.S. states are moving to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International said Monday.

America's 43 executions in 2011 ranked it fifth in the world in capital punishment, the rights group said in its annual review of worldwide death penalty trends, even though U.S. executions were down from 46 a year earlier.

Unlikely Advocates For Teen Killers: Victims' Families

Credit: Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel wait outside the Supreme Court for Tuesday's hearing on whether it is unconstitutional to sentence teenagers to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
By: Laura Sullivan and Lauren Silverman
National Public Radio
Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Supreme Court heard arguments this week about the fate of 2,500 offenders who were sentenced as teenagers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Seventy-nine of them were 13 or 14 when they committed their crimes.

Many prosecutors and family members of victims spoke out about the need to keep the sentences in place.

But in a small building cafeteria, just a few blocks from the Supreme Court, a different group of family members quietly came together. These were the families of teenagers who committed horrible crimes — and sitting next to them were the families of victims.

Raising our voices for Trayvon

A report from New York City on an angry protest--one of many across the country--against the killing of Trayvon Martin.

By: Gary Lapon and Julian Guerrero
Socialist Worker
Thursday, March 22, 2012

THOUSANDS of people gathered in Union Square in New York City March 21 for a "Million Hoodie March" to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, as outrage at his racist murder continues to spread across the country and the world.

Legislative committee approves death penalty repeal

By: Ken Dixon
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

HARTFORD -- The law-writing Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would repeal the state's death penalty and substitute lethal injection with life in prison without the possibility of release.

The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin

Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times
Charles M. Blow
By: Charles M. Blow
New York Times
Friday, March 16, 2012

“He said that Tray was gone.”

That’s how Sybrina Fulton, her voice full of ache, told me she found out that her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, had died. In a wrenching telephone call, the boy’s father, who had taken him to visit a friend, told her that Trayvon had been gunned down in a gated townhouse community in Sanford, Fla., outside Orlando.

“He said, ‘Somebody shot Trayvon and killed him.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Fulton continued in disbelief. “I said ‘How do you know that’s Trayvon?’ And he said because they showed him a picture.”

Police Monitor Brings Unique Perspective To Table In Carter Shooting

Says officers assume the worst about African-Americans

By: Rebekah Skelton
The Austin Villager
Friday, March 16, 2012

Austin Police Monitor Margo Frasier is a middle-aged white woman, who acknowledges that she is not likely to be stopped and searched by police anytime soon. Her adopted daughter, however, is a 19-year-old African-American, and her chances of being stopped are much higher, Frasier said. So when Frasier reviews a case such as the officer-involved fatal shooting of Byron Carter Jr., a young African-American man, she brings a unique perspective to the table.