Crime Judge halts scheduled execution of death row inmates in Terre Haute
Utah death-row inmate featured in best-selling book dies
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah death-row inmate who killed his brother's wife and her toddler because of his strong polygamist beliefs in a case made famous by the book "Under the Banner of Heaven" has died of natural causes, prison officials said Monday. Ron Lafferty, 78, died at the state prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper, Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said. The state attorney general's office hadRon Lafferty, 78, died at the state prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper, Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said.
Federal courts have blocked theof four men on death row in the U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute.
The executions would have taken place in December and January.
News of the first federal executions since 2003 came with the announcement in July of a new execution protocol that mirrors those used in states like Texas, Georgia and Missouri. This would replace the three-drug cocktail used in past federal executions with a single drug called pentobarbital.
Supreme Court To Consider Petition In Texas Death Penalty Case
DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a request to consider the death penalty case of Rodney Reed this Friday. Reed is scheduled to be executed November 20 for killing Stacey Stites in Bastrop in 1996.
But an order issued Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan says that four of the five men to be put to death had filed complaints against the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons alleging that the execution protocol is "unlawful and unconstitutional" because it differs from state protocol.
The men on death row:
A 1994 federal statute says federal executions must be carried out “in the manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed,” and the inmates have asked for their executions to be tabled until their claims can be fully litigated.
The impacted inmates committed their crimes in Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Iowa.
Rodney Reed's lawyers file to overturn conviction
Reed is scheduled to be executed on November 20 for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites , but the new witnesses are pointing the finger at Stites's then-fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, who was never charged in the death. Reed was arrested after his DNA was discovered inside Stites' body. In 1998, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. Reed, who is black, maintained his innocence and claimed he was having an affair with Stites.Three witness accounts had been reported on in recent weeks but none had been filed in court until now.
Chutkan wrote that after reviewing the cases, the court found that least one of inmates' claims has a "likelihood of success," and that the harm that the plaintiffs would suffer if the court did not grant relief "far outweighs any potential harm to the Defendants."
"Finally, because the public is not served by short-circuiting legitimate judicial process, and is greatly served by attempting to ensure that the most serious punishment is imposed lawfully, this court finds that it is in the public interest to issue a preliminary injunction," Chutkan wrote.
The four inmates impacted by the ruling are Daniel Lewis Lee, Wesley Ira Purkey, Alfred Bourgeois and Dustin Lee Honken. Their executions were slated for Dec. 9, Dec. 13, Jan. 13 and Jan. 15 respectively.
The Dec. 11 execution of Lezmond Mitchell was halted in a separate October decision so the court can review an ongoing appeal related to possible anti-Native American bias in his case. Mitchell, a member of the Navajo Nation convicted for crimes committed in Arizona, is the only Native American on federal death row.
Court puts hold on Rodney Reed's scheduled execution
With new, compelling evidence in Reed's case, the call to halt his Nov. 20 execution has been building in recent weeks.The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Friday afternoon stopped the scheduled execution of death row inmate and convicted murderer Rodney Reed.
In its opposition of the decision, the Department of Justice has argued that time is of the essence. Chutkan wrote that while the government does have a legitimate interest in the "finality of criminal proceedings," the fact that it took eight years to establish a new execution protocol undermines its arguments regarding the urgency of the executions.
"The public interest is not served by executing individuals before they have had the
opportunity to avail themselves of legitimate procedures to challenge the legality of their
executions," she wrote.
Court documents said the court has consolidated the cases and ordered the plaintiffs
to complete the necessary depositions by Feb. 29, and to amend their complaints by March 31.
Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at 317-444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star:
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