Army approves death penalty option in trial for accused Fort Hood shooter
July 6th, 2011
11:33 AM ET

Army approves death penalty option in trial for accused Fort Hood shooter

A U.S. Army general Wednesday approved a possible death penalty in the future military trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the American Muslim accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, the Fort Hood commander, formally announced that the charges against Hasan will be tried as capital offenses in a general court-martial. His decision means that if a panel of military officers finds Hasan guilty, they can consider the death penalty as a possible sentence.

Campbell's decision moves the case forward and also eliminates the possibility that Hasan, a psychiatrist, could enter a guilty plea and prevent a costly and lengthy trial.

A court-martial could be months away.

"After a referral of a case to trial by court-martial, a military judge will receive the case and at some future date, set a schedule," said a statement from Fort Hood Wednesday. "The first likely matter for a military judge to schedule in this court-martial is the arraignment of Hasan. No military judge has been named to this case at this time."

A capital court-martial is highly unusual. The last military execution in the United States took place in 1961.

Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in November, 2009. Witnesses at a preliminary hearing identified him as the man who calmly walked through a medical building on the country's largest military base, shooting and frequently reloading his handgun as he shouted "Allah Akbar," which means "God is great" in Arabic.

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July 5th, 2011
01:29 PM ET

Casey Anthony: What she's facing if jury finds her guilty

Jurors reached a verdict Tuesday in the Casey Anthony murder trial in Orlando, according to court officials. Anthony, 25,  is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008. In this high-profile case, there's a lot at stake. For the defendant, the verdict is a matter of life and death.

Anthony is charged with seven counts, including first-degree murder; aggravated manslaughter of a child; aggravated child abuse; and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. As those following the trial across the country anxiously await the jury's verdict, CNN takes a look at all the charges, what a guilty verdict on each charge would mean and what kind of sentence Anthony could be facing if the jury finds for the prosecution.

If you've been captivated by the trial and want to reconsider the evidence, take a look at key points from the defense and prosecution.

And if it's a bit confusing with so many charges and possible sentences, you can always click over to CNN affiliate WESH-TV in Orlando, which has a handy calculator for figuring out possible total sentences depending on whether Anthony is found not guilty or guilty on each of the charges.

Murder charges

Charge: Capital first-degree murder
What it means:
If found guilty, the jury would indicate it believes Anthony planned the murder.
Possible sentence:
Anthony would face death by lethal injection or life in prison without the possibility of parole if recommended by the jury. The judge could overrule this in the sentencing phase but would be required to write an explanation for his disagreement with the jury.

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Filed under: Casey Anthony • Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Justice
July 4th, 2011
11:27 AM ET

Prosecutor: Casey Anthony's life was better without Caylee

Casey Anthony's actions, particularly those in the 31 days after her 2-year-old daughter went missing and before police were notified, speak volumes about her guilt, prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick told jurors in Casey Anthony's capital murder trial Monday.

Burdick reminded the jury that she went through each one of those days in her opening argument as the trial began, asking "Where is Caylee?"

"The question is no longer 'Where is Caylee?' We know where Caylee Marie Anthony is," Burdick said. "The question is no longer 'What happened to Caylee Marie Anthony?' We know what happened to Caylee."

But Casey Anthony's actions and responses "answer for you the only real question left at this stage of the proceedings, and that is who killed Caylee Anthony," Burdick said.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations later in the day on whether Casey Anthony is guilty of first-degree murder and other charges in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

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Filed under: Courts • Death Penalty
Gotta Watch: Judging Casey Anthony case
Casey Anthony is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony, in the summer of 2008.
July 4th, 2011
08:29 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Judging Casey Anthony case

It's the capital murder case that's held our attention this summer. But has the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony intentionally murdered her daughter? The jury is beginning their deliberations today, and now it's your chance to weigh in. You've gotta watch the most pivotal moments from the defense and prosecution and judge for yourself whether Casey Anthony is guilty or innocent.
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Filed under: Casey Anthony • Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Florida • Gotta Watch • Justice
Supreme Court halts Texas execution
The Supreme Court issued a stay of execution hours before Cleve Foster was slated to die by lethal injection.
April 5th, 2011
02:42 PM ET

Supreme Court halts Texas execution

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday morning halting the execution of Texas death row inmate Cleve Foster.

The  justices issued an order granting a stay of execution for Cleve Foster about eight hours before his scheduled lethal injection.

The Gulf War veteran was convicted along with another man of the 2002 murder of  Nyanuer  "Mary" Pal, a Sudanese immigrant he met at a Fort Worth  bar.

Read CNN's full coverage of the Cleve Foster stay of execution
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Filed under: Courts • Death Penalty • Justice • Texas
Supreme Court rejects appeal from Georgia death row inmate
March 28th, 2011
10:19 AM ET

Supreme Court rejects appeal from Georgia death row inmate

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a condemned Georgia inmate's request that  his execution be delayed as he attempts to prove his "actual innocence." The  justices without comment on Monday turned aside separate appeals from Troy Davis, likely setting the stage for the state to set another execution  date.

The death row prisoner has gained international support for his  long-standing claim he did not murder a Savannah police officer more than two  decades ago.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Justice
Ohio man is first executed with lone dose of pentobarbital
Johnnie Baston was convicted of the murder of a Toledo store owner.
March 10th, 2011
12:50 PM ET

Ohio man is first executed with lone dose of pentobarbital

Johnnie Baston on Thursday became the first person in the United States executed with the single-dose drug pentobarbital.

Pentobarbital, a barbiturate that has been used in animal euthanasia and as a mild anesthetic in humans, was used in a U.S. execution for the first time in December, when it was administered as the first drug in a three-drug cocktail used in a lethal injection given to an Oklahoma inmate.

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Ohio
Illinois governor signs death penalty ban
March 9th, 2011
01:40 PM ET

Illinois governor signs death penalty ban

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday that he has signed legislation eliminating the death penalty in his state, more than 10 years after the state halted executions.

"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history," Quinn (pictured), a Democrat, told reporters in making the announcement.

Illinois conducted its last execution in 1999. Then-Gov. George Ryan halted executions in 2000, after a series of death row inmates were exonerated. Quinn said his review had convinced him that it was impossible to administer capital punishment without mistakes, and abolishing it was "the right and just thing."

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Illinois • Justice
Doctor to face death penalty trial in late-term abortions case
Prosecutors say infants were killed with scissors at this Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, clinic.
March 2nd, 2011
01:30 PM ET

Doctor to face death penalty trial in late-term abortions case

Philadelphia prosecutors say they may seek the death penalty against abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with murder after allegedly performing illegal late-term abortions at a dirty facility.

Authorities allege that some of the infants were born viable and alive during the sixth, seventh and eighth months of pregnancy and then were killed with scissors, which were used to cut their spinal cords.

Gosnell, 70, faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of seven babies and a 41-year-old woman.

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Filed under: Abortion • Crime • Death Penalty • Pennsylvania
Death penalty for woman convicted in vigilante killings
February 22nd, 2011
02:37 PM ET

Death penalty for woman convicted in vigilante killings

Jurors in Arizona decided Tuesday on the death penalty as the punishment for anti-illegal immigration activist Shawna Forde (pictured), who was convicted of killing a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter during a vigilante raid, a
court spokeswoman said.

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Filed under: Arizona • Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Justice
Death row inmates sue to stop importation of drug used in executions
February 5th, 2011
10:48 PM ET

Death row inmates sue to stop importation of drug used in executions

Six death row inmates have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from importing a drug used in executions that's no longer available in the United States.

Hospira, the only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental, an anesthetic used as part of the lethal three-drug cocktail, announced last month that it would stop making the product, saying it never intended it to be used to kill people.

But the FDA continues to allow states to import "bulk amounts" of the drug for use in lethal injection without vetting it to ensure it meets regulatory standards, the lawsuit states.

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Filed under: Arizona • California • Death Penalty • Lawsuit • Tennessee
Sole maker of execution drug says it's pulling out of market
States are seeking alternative chemicals for use in lethal injections.
January 21st, 2011
02:37 PM ET

Sole maker of execution drug says it's pulling out of market

The only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental, a chemical used in executions, said today it will stop making the product.

Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, said it never intended for its chemical to be used to kill people. It intended to start making sodium thiopental at a plant in Italy, but Italian authorities required the company to guarantee the chemical would not be used in executions, Hospira said on its website.

Capital punishment is outlawed in Italy and throughout Europe.

"Given the issues surrounding the product, including the government's requirements and challenges bringing the drug back to market, Hospira has decided to exit the market," the statement said.

"We regret that issues outside of our control forced Hospira's decision to exit the market, and that our many hospital customers who use the drug for its well-established medical benefits will not be able to obtain the product from Hospira."

Apart from executions, sodium thiopental is used as an anesthetic for brief surgical procedures and some kinds of hypnosis, according to rxlist.com.

Hospira suspended production of the drug in 2009, and many state prison systems have run out, according to The Wall Street Journal.

As a result, some states have turned to pentobarbital, a drug used by veterinarians to euthanize animals. An inmate in Oklahoma was executed in December with pentobarbital.

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Filed under: Death Penalty • Illinois • Italy • Justice
Illinois legislature votes to abolish death penalty; governor's OK not assured
Illinois could become the next state to eliminate its death row.
January 12th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

Illinois legislature votes to abolish death penalty; governor's OK not assured

Illinois' state Senate voted Tuesday night to abolish the death penalty.

The state House passed the bill last week. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has not said whether he will sign the legislation into law, but while campaigning last year, he said he supported "capital punishment when applied carefully and fairly," the Chicago Tribune reported.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said the death penalty is "a deterrent to violent crime in the most heinous of cases" that should be available, particularly "when we have witnessed outrageous crimes such as the senseless murder of five Chicago police officers this past year," the Tribune reported.

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Illinois • Justice • U.S.
Iran executes man as Israeli spy, hangs opposition group member
December 28th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Iran executes man as Israeli spy, hangs opposition group member

Iran has hanged a man convicted of spying for Israel and also executed another man who was a member of a government opposition group, state-run media reported Tuesday.

The executions took place at Tehran's Evin Prison at dawn Tuesday.

Ali-Akbar Siadat was sentenced to death for working as a spy for Israeli intelligence. The Islamic Republic News Agency said Siadat admitted to transferring information to Israel over several years in exchange for $60,000.

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Filed under: Death Penalty • Espionage • Iran • Israel
Drug shortage leads to condemned man receiving anesthetic for animals
December 16th, 2010
07:50 PM ET

Drug shortage leads to condemned man receiving anesthetic for animals

Oklahoma death row inmate John David Duty was executed Thursday using a drug commonly used to euthanize animals because of a nationwide shortage of the sedative normally employed in Oklahoma's lethal injections.

Pentobarbital is an anesthetizing drug widely used to euthanize dogs, cats and other animals. Duty, who was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. CT, is believed to be the first condemned inmate to be executed using pentobarbital as part of the three-drug cocktail.

Lawyers for Duty, who was sentenced to die for strangling his cellmate with a shoelace, claimed that pentobarbital is risky and unproven in humans.

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Filed under: Death Penalty • Oklahoma
November 8th, 2010
11:40 AM ET

Jury recommends death for Connecticut killer

Steven Hayes, a man convicted of killing three members of a Connecticut family during a home invasion, should receive the death penalty, jurors decided after more than 16 hours of deliberation.

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October 25th, 2010
01:25 PM ET

Prison record of convicted killer reviewed in penalty phase of trial

Stephen Hayes, convicted of killing three members of a Connecticut family, was written up in 24 disciplinary reports during a stretch in state prison, the jury was told as the penalty phase of Hayes' trial resumed Monday morning.

Fred Levesque, former director of offender classification and population management for the state Department of Correction, said the 24 disciplinary reports included one for hoarding medication, a charge to which Hayes voluntarily pleaded guilty.

But when the defense asked Levesque if he had any knowledge of whether Hayes was a threat to the general population, he answered "no."

Hayes, 47, was convicted this month of 16 of the 17 charges against him - including nine counts of murder and capital murder and four counts of kidnapping - in the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley Petit and 11-year-old Michaela Petit.

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Filed under: Connecticut • Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Home invasion • Justice
October 21st, 2010
11:18 AM ET

Prosecutors close Fort Hood case, defense to begin Nov. 15

Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged with killing 13 people in a rampage last year.

[Updated at 11:18 a.m.] The prosecution has completed presenting its case against alleged Fort Hood shooter and Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan.

The investigating officer has recessed the proceedings until November 15th, at which time the defense will have an opportunity to present its case.

[Updated at 10:18 a.m.] The prosecution said it plans to wrap up its case against alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan on Thursday, and Hasan's legal team will present its defense in more than two weeks.

The prosecution has called more than 50 witnesses who have delivered chilling testimony about the shooting rampage that left 13 dead at a Texas military base. Hasan is the subject of an Article 32 hearing, which will determine if there is ample evidence to proceed with a court martial.

The former Army psychiatrist is charged with killing 13 people and wounding dozens more in a November rampage.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Fort Hood • Fort Hood shooting • Justice • Texas
October 19th, 2010
02:33 PM ET

Witness recalls Ft. Hood suspect's 'casual' walk

A witness in the case against Maj. Nidal Hasan recalled Tuesday the sound that the accused Fort Hood shooter made as he walked down the halls of the processing center where he'd opened fire that November day.

Shell casings were wedged in the tread of Hasan's combat boots, making a distinctive "clack, clack" as he walked, said Ted Coukoulis, a civilian nurse, on the sixth day of the alleged shooter's military hearing.

Coukoulis testified in the Article 32 evidentiary hearing that will determine whether the case will proceed to a court martial and the possible death penalty for Hasan.

"It was a casual walk," Coukoulis said, comparing it to how someone would walk through a mall. "He stopped firing and started walking toward where I was - clack, clack, clack."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Courts • Death Penalty • Fort Hood • Fort Hood shooting • Justice • Military • Texas
October 12th, 2010
10:24 PM ET

Tennessee man gets death sentence for mass murder

A Tennessee jury sentenced to death on Tuesday a convicted killer responsible for what has been called the worst mass murder in the history of Memphis.

The jury took less than two hours to sentence Jessie Dotson to death on six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder for the brutal deaths of several relatives, including his brother and toddler nephews.

Dotson had just served 14 years in prison for second-degree murder when he shot his brother, Cecil Dotson, in an early-morning fight in February 2008, according to testimony.

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Tennessee
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