A jury on Wednesday unanimously recommended Richard James Beasley be sentenced to death for killing three men who had answered a Craigslist ad for work on an Ohio cattle farm.
Summit County Judge Lynne Callahan set sentencing for Tuesday.
Lawyers for James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting suspect, took aim against the state's insanity defense laws in court documents made public Friday.
"Colorado's statutory scheme regarding the affirmative defense of insanity, and the introduction of any 'mental condition' evidence at trial or sentencing, is unconstitutional in many individual respects," they wrote in a 60-page motion and brief filed Thursday.
The lawyers said parts of the state's insanity defense laws are unconstitutional.
Among other issues, they cited the requirement that a defendant "cooperate" with examining psychiatrists as a violation of the defendant's privilege against compelled self-incrimination.
Prosecutors have not said whether they will pursue the death penalty against Holmes, who is charged with 166 counts, including murder, attempted murder and other offenses in the July 20 shooting rampage in a movie theater that left 12 people dead and scores injured.
Holmes is awaiting formal arraignment on the charges.
Two days after a last-hour reprieve, it appears condemned Georgia murderer Warren Lee Hill will be spared execution for at least a few more weeks.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 30-day stay of execution for Hill (pictured), whose attorneys say he's mentally disabled.
Georgia had asked the justices to lift the stay, which was granted minutes before Hill had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday night. A federal appeals court in Atlanta halted the execution to give lawyers a month for written arguments on whether Hill should be spared under the federal ban on executions of the mentally disabled.
The state of Georgia Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let the execution of condemned murderer Warren Lee Hill go forward after a last-minute stay that spared him from lethal injection.
Hill was within half an hour of execution Tuesday night when federal and state appeals courts stepped in to halt the procedure, his lawyer said. His lawyers say he's mentally retarded, with an IQ of 70, but state prosecutors say Hill has repeatedly failed to prove that claim in court.
[Updated at 7:21 p.m. ET] A federal appeals court has granted a stay of execution to convicted killer Warren Lee Hill, who was to have been put to death at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a Georgia prison, a staff attorney for the Georgia Resource Center told CNN.
Hill's lawyers had argued that his IQ of 70 meant he should be spared under a 2002 decision that barred the execution of the mentally disabled.
[Updated at 6:54 p.m. ET] The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill, who is slated to be executed at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Jackson, Georgia.
His defenders say he should be spared because he is mentally disabled. Georgia's Supreme Court denied a request for a stay earlier today.
[Updated at 5:02 p.m. ET] The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles said it has denied the request for clemency from Warren Lee Hill. Hill is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday for the 1990 killing of Joseph Handspike.
[Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET] In a 5-to-2 decision, Georgia's Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a stay of execution for convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill.
Hill, 53, is scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m. by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
Hill was convicted of beating fellow inmate Joseph Handspike to death in 1990 with a nail-studded board while already serving a life sentence in the 1985 killing of his girlfriend, Myra Wright.
A Philadelphia judge ruled Friday to stay the execution of Pennsylvania convicted killer Terrance Williams and grant a new penalty phase in the case.
Williams, 46, was scheduled to be executed on October 3. No one disputes that Williams beat Amos Norwood to death with a tire iron in 1984 or that he should be in prison.
But his defense team says information that Norwood had allegedly sexually abused Williams was withheld from the trial, and his life should be spent in a cell.
Philadelphia Judge M. Teresa Sarmina on Friday found "reasonable probability" that the verdict might have been different had allegations of abuse surfaced during the initial case and that the relationship between the two men had been established but not disclosed.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill into law Wednesday that abolishes the death penalty, making his state the 17th in the nation to abandon capital punishment and the fifth in five years to usher in a repeal.
The law is effective immediately, though prospective in nature, meaning that it would not apply to those already sentenced to death. It replaces the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release as the state's highest form of punishment.
"Although it is an historic moment - Connecticut joins 16 other states and the rest of the industrialized world by taking this action - it is a moment for sober reflection, not celebration," Malloy (pictured) said in a statement.
A judge in New Haven, Connecticut, sentenced a 31-year-old man to death Friday for his role in a deadly home invasion that killed a woman and her two daughters in 2007.
Jurors convicted Joshua Komisarjevsky in October on six capital felony charges. The 12-member jury had recommended death by lethal injection on each of the counts.
The man convicted of being Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death in 2010. Juries convicted the pair on charges that they beat and tied up Dr. William Petit Jr., raped and strangled his wife, molested one of their daughters and set the house on fire before trying to flee.
Petit is the sole survivor of the attack that killed his wife and two daughters.
The U.S. Supreme Court has given an Alabama death row prisoner another chance to appeal his conviction after a mailroom mistake initially left him unable to pursue further claims in court.
Cory Maples' case now goes back to lower courts.
Maples was convicted in the 1995 murder of two companions, Stacy Alan Terry and Barry Dewayne Robinson II, with whom he had been drinking heavily. Court records showed that Maples took a .22-caliber rifle in his Decatur, Alabama, home and shot both men twice in the head, execution-style. He later confessed to police but offered no explanation for the crimes. The defendant was convicted, and the jury recommended the death sentence by a vote of 10-2.
In the hours before Troy Davis was executed in a Jackson, Georgia, prison Wednesday for the murder of a police officer, the hundreds of people who had gathered outside not only protested his sentence, but also talked of bringing about reforms for the future.
During the hot day and into the evening, high-profile activists, college students and others said there was too much doubt over Davis' guilt for an execution (though the prosecutor said he had no doubt). And some expressed hope that the death penalty eventually would be abolished.
In a crowded church across the street from the prison, the head of Amnesty International, Larry Cox, drew raucous applause with a nod to the Christian belief in an afterlife.
"We are not afraid of death, because we know that death can be conquered," he said.
Many spoke about reforming the justice system. Elijah West, a cousin of Davis, spoke of getting a degree in criminal justice so that he could make changes from the inside.
Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, called the death penalty "legalized vengeance" and urged the protesters to oppose it.
Georgia inmate Troy Davis was executed Wednesday night for the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah police officer.
Davis died at 11:08 p.m. ET, according to a prison official. The execution was about four hours later than initially scheduled, because prison officials waited for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Davis' request for a stay.
After 10 p.m. ET, the Supreme Court, in a brief order, rejected Davis' request. His supporters had sought to prevent the execution, saying seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony.
Below are the developments as they happened. Read the full story here.
[Updated at 11:50 p.m.] Jon Lewis of WSB radio, one of the execution witnesses, gave this account of the minutes before Davis' death:
After the warden read the execution order and asked whether Davis had anything to say, Davis – strapped to a gurney – lifted his head up and looked at the witness area's first row, which was where MacPhail's relatives and friends sat.
“(Davis) made a statement in which he said ... 'Despite the situation you're in, (I) was not the one who did it.' He said he was not personally responsible for what happened that night, that he did not have a gun. He said to the family that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother.
"He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth. He asked his family and friends to keep praying, to keep working, to keep the faith. And then he said to the prison staff, the ones he said 'are going to take my life,' ... ‘May God have mercy on your souls,’ and his last words to them (were), 'May God bless your souls.'"
Another witness, reporter Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, also gave quotes from Davis. According to her, Davis said: "The incident that night was not my fault. I did not have gun."
"And that’s when he told his friends to continue the fight and 'look deeper into this case so you can really find the truth,'" Cook said.
Davis also said, according to Cook: "For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls."
Davis said to the MacPhail family, according to Cook: "I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent."
Hours earlier, Davis declined what the prison offered him as a final meal, Cook said.
[Updated at 11:12 p.m.] Davis has been executed, a prison representative has said. The time of death was 11:08 p.m. ET.
[Updated at 10:55 p.m.] Davis' execution is expected to begin between 11:05 to 11:10 p.m. ET, the Georgia Department of Corrections says.
Three things you need to know today.
Georgia execution: Supporters of death-row inmate Troy Davis have vowed to continue fighting to stave off Wednesday's scheduled execution, despite a decision by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to deny clemency.
"We're calling on anyone who has any power to stop this grave injustice from occurring." Laura Moye, campaign director for Amnesty International USA, said at a news conference.
Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Jackson, Georgia, for the 1989 shooting death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail.
The parole board declined to grant Davis clemency Tuesday following a hearing Monday in which it heard testimony calling into question physical evidence and witness statements that a Chatham County jury relied on in convicting Davis in 1991. In Georgia, only the board - not the governor - has the right to grant clemency.
Since Davis' conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Davis' supporters say the original witnesses were fearful of police and spoke under duress.
One of three men convicted for his involvement in the infamous dragging death of a black man 13 years ago is scheduled to be executed Wednesday.
Texas execution: Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, is scheduled to die by lethal injection in the killing of James Byrd.
Brewer and two other white men chained the 49-year-old black man to the back of a pickup truck and dragged him to death on a country road near Jasper, Texas.
Accomplice John William King also was sentenced to death and is awaiting an appeal. A third man, Shawn Berry, received life in prison.
Obama at U.N.: President Barack Obama will lay out the U.S. view of the "seismic change" seen around the world in the past year, particularly in the Arab world, when he speaks to the United Nations on Wednesday, aides said.
National Security Council strategic communications director Ben Rhodes said the sweeping changes across the region will take up much of Obama's address to the General Assembly on Wednesday morning and "speak to the momentum of democratic change in the world."
"There's been a seismic change in the past year, and I think the discussions today underscore that," he said.
For the Georgia prosecutor who put Troy Davis on trial in 1991 for killing a cop and won a conviction, there were two cases being fought.
"There is the legal case, the case in court, and the public relations case," Spencer Lawton, the former Chatham County prosecutor, said. "We have consistently won the case as it has been presented in court. We have consistently lost the case as it has been presented in the public realm, on TV and elsewhere."
Lawton spoke to CNN about the Davis case, his first interview on the case since Davis' initial trial, after the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for the death-row inmate on Tuesday.
Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail. He is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday at a state prison in Jackson, Georgia.
After he was sentenced to death, Davis' lawyers filed a federal court appeal insisting there was "no physical evidence linking" Davis to MacPhail’s murder. They called the testimony of a ballistics expert that shell casings from another shooting by Davis matched casings found at the murder scene an "unremarkable conclusion" since the murder weapon was not found.
"We believe that we've established substantial doubt in this case," Stephen Marsh, Davis' attorney, said at the time. "And given the level of doubt that exists in this case, we believe that an execution is simply not appropriate."
Thousands of influential dignitaries, including the pope, South Africa's Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter, as well as more than 600,000 people have signed a petition seeking to stop Davis' execution.
Lawton says he believes the outrage over the sentence resulted from a public relations campaign by Davis' supporters, while prosecutors remained silent outside the courtroom.
"It's just been my policy, that I not comment on a pending case - and this case has been pending for two decades," he said. "For two decades, I've maintained my silence. That meant I could never respond.
"So we have been at an extreme disadvantage in the public relations campaign for that reason, because we felt that we were ethically bound to maintain our silence and express our opinions and judgments on the facts in court, which is where we have. And every place we have, we have won."
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole has denied clemency for death-row inmate Troy Davis.
Davis' case gained momentum with the support of Amnesty International, ex-President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among others, calling for clemency to be granted.
However, the Georgia Parole board denied Davis clemency once before. And the board has never changed its mind on any case in the past 33 years.
The high-profile case has again brought the death penalty back into the spotlight. So we're taking a look at the current state of the death penalty, the clemency process and specifically the statistics in Georgia.
Death penalty statistics:
- More than 3,200 inmates in 36 states are awaiting execution. The U.S. government and U.S. military also have approximately 67 people awaiting execution.
- As of September 18, 2011 – 1,267 people have been executed in the U.S. since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated.
- Capital punishment is legal in 34 states.
- The legal methods of capital punishment are lethal injection and the electric chair.
- 35 states use lethal injection. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009; however, two prisoners remain on death row and will be executed by lethal injection.
Editor's note: Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst, offered his immediate reaction Tuesday to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole's decision to deny clemency to death row inmate Troy Davis.
The creativity of defense attorneys aside, convicted police killer Troy Davis appears "out of options," Toobin said.
Davis' attorneys pleaded with the board, telling it that seven of nine witnesses who testified against their client had recanted or changed their testimony. The board also heard the defense assert that witnesses have come forward to say someone else was responsible for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.
But the board, which also denied clemency to Davis in 2008, was not swayed.
"This has been an extraordinary legal saga since the murder in 1989, and two years ago the United States Supreme Court did something it almost never does – instructed a District Court in Georgia to take another look at the case, hold a hearing," Toobin said.
A Savannah judge did just that, Toobin said, and issued a 170-page opinion saying that, despite the recanted testimony, "there is no substantial doubt cast on the verdict as far as this judge could tell." In short, Toobin said, the judge sided with the jury that originally found Davis guilty.
"I know lawyers can be very creative, but I think Troy Davis is really out of options. ... I never can underestimate the creativity of lawyers, but certainly, based on what I can see, based on my familiarity with the law, I think he will be executed (Wednesday)."
Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.
Davis is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday at a state prison in Jackson, Georgia.
"Monday September 19, 2011, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles met to consider a clemency request from attorneys representing condemned inmate Troy Anthony Davis. After considering the request, the Board has voted to deny clemency," the board said in a statement Tuesday morning.
The five-member parole board votes in a secret ballot.
Davis has gained international support for his long-standing claim that he did not kill MacPhail. International figures including Pope Benedict XVI, Desmond Tutu, and former President Jimmy Carter, entertainers such as Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte, and the Indigo Girls, and others have joined with Amnesty International, the NAACP and other groups in supporting Davis' efforts to be exonerated.
He has been scheduled to die three times before, most recently in October 2008, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay two hours before he was to be executed.
Since Davis' conviction in 1991, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. There also have been questions about the physical evidence - and, according to some, the lack thereof - linking Davis to the killing.
Tacoma school strike: Classes are suspended again Friday in Tacoma, Washington, after teachers voted to continue their strike, in defiance of a a court order to stop.
Rich Wood, the spokesman for the Tacoma teachers union, said teachers voted Thursday to continue their strike despite a judge's Wednesday order. At a union meeting Thursday afternoon, 1,478 teachers voted to keep striking, Wood said, adding that 107 voted "no" or abstained. He said teachers were concerned about how Judge Bryan Chushcoff would react to their defying his order.
The Tacoma School District did not return a call seeking comment, but a message posted on the district's website said school for 28,000 students would be suspended again Friday, as it has been all week.
Rally to stop execution: The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network plans to hold a candlelight vigil Friday for convicted cop killer Troy Davis at Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Sharpton will speak at the rally at 7 p.m. ET.
Davis, 42, is set to be executed at 7 p.m. Wednesday by lethal injection next week for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.
But since his 1991 conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman.
Supporters Thursday delivered a massive petition containing more than 663,000 signatures in support of clemency for Davis to Georgia officials.
They're worried that won't be enough, as all legal appeals have been exhausted and only Gov. Nathan Deal or the state Pardon and Parole Board can call off Wednesday's execution. The board denied clemency in 2008.
Bill for Anthony: Casey Anthony owes authorities just under $98,000 for the costs of investigating the disappearance of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008, a Florida judge ruled Thursday.
The decision means prosecutors are set to recoup less than one-fifth of the more than $516,000 that they had sought. The state had argued that if it were not for the 25-year-old Orlando woman's lies, investigators wouldn't have had to expend the time and money to find her daughter's body.
They searched for five months, eventually finding Caylee's skeletal remains in woods less than a mile from her grandparents' Orlando home.
Orange County Superior Court Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. found Anthony is liable for expenses incurred from July 15, 2008, when Caylee was reported missing, to September 29 of that year, when authorities ended their missing-person case and opened a homicide investigation.
Supporters of convicted cop killer Troy Davis say time is running out.
Unless something dramatic happens, Davis will die by lethal injection next week for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.
Davis, 42, is set to be executed at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and since his 1991 conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman.
Many people fighting for Davis' life are feeling the pressure.
"We honor the life of Officer MacPhail," said Edward DuBose, Georgia state conference president of the NAACP, but he added, "You cannot right a wrong by offering up Troy Davis, who we believe is not the person responsible."
The NAACP joins several groups advocating for Davis, who also counts former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI and singer Harry Belafonte among his defenders.
Clemency sought: The NAACP and Amnesty International on Thursday will deliver petitions with thousands of signatures seeking clemency for convicted killer Troy Davis to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Davis, 42, is set to be executed on September 21 for the murder an off-duty Savannah police officer more than two decades ago.
Since Davis' conviction in 1991, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman.
The rights groups contend there is too much doubt about Davis' conviction to let the execution proceed.
"Troy Davis could very well be innocent," Amnesty International says on its website.
Medal of Honor: Dakota Meyer will receive the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, becoming the first living Marine to get the medal for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Meyer repeatedly ran through enemy fire to recover the bodies of fellow American troops during a firefight in Afghanistan's Kunar province in 2009.
Meyer ultimately saved the lives of 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers, and 23 Afghan soldiers, according to the Medal of Honor account on the Marine website. He also is credited with killing at least eight Taliban insurgents.
Swearing in: The two newest members of Congress, Republicans Mark Amodei of Nevada and Bob Turner of New York, will be sworn in on Thursday, two days after they won special elections in Nevada and New York respectively.
Amodei's election was expected. Republicans have represented Nevada's 2nd congressional district - which covers almost the entire state, except the southern tip and the Las Vegas metropolitan area - since it was created in 1983.
But Turner, a former cable TV executive, defeated Democratic state assemblyman David Weprin 54% to 46% in New York's 9th congressional district, giving the GOP control in a district where Democrats have a 3-to-1 voter advantage.
Paul House left Tennessee's death row nearly four years ago a crippled man. Sure, he was free, but after 13 years of living with multiple sclerosis in prison, he was a gaunt shell of a man, unable to walk or barely talk, scared to go out in public for fear of being harassed.
Now, he’s a different person, says his mother, Joyce House. He has new teeth, and an affinity for Arby’s beef-and-cheddar sandwiches has helped him gain weight. Thanks to treatment and medication, he can communicate with others and play online poker. When it’s not too hot outside, he exercises on parallel bars in his mother's backyard so that one day, he can hopefully transition from a wheelchair to a walker.
Most importantly, he has overcome a fear of public scrutiny that had haunted him since his release in 2008, after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that new DNA evidence could have led a jury to acquit him in the 1985 murder of Carolyn Muncey. House spent 22 years on death row before his release.
"When he first came home, he didn't want to go anywhere. He was so afraid people were going to come up to him and say, 'oh you're a murderer,' " his mother said. "I told him people know you're innocent, I know you're innocent, you know you're innocent. He’d say, 'yeah, but does everyone else know?' "
House was placed under house arrest in 2008 while he awaited retrial. In 2009, a month before his trial, Union County District Attorney Paul Phillips filed a petition to drop all charges, saying DNA evidence presented significant reasonable doubt.
"Took 'em long enough," House said at the time.
His lawyer said he has filed a petition for executive clemency, which would provide for financial compensation. "He’ll never be able to walk, but he still strives to one day reach the walker,” Joyce House said.
"He says, 'whenever I get to where I can walk with the walker, we're going to see Mr. Kissinger,' the lawyer who set him free," she said.
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