Death Penalty

Supreme Court Grants Temporary Stay Of Execution In Georgia

Sep 26, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections

The U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution Tuesday night for a Georgia inmate whose attorneys argue that the 59-year-old black man's death sentence was tainted by a juror's racial bias.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, known as "Bo," was set to be put to death at 7 p.m. EDT at the state prison by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital, but the hour came and went as the justices considered his case. Just before 11 p.m. EDT, the court announced the temporary stay.

Georgia Plans To Execute Man Who Killed Sister-In-Law

Sep 26, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections

A man who killed his sister-in-law 27 years ago is scheduled to die Tuesday as Georgia carries out its second execution of the year.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59 and known as "Bo," is set to be put to death at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. He was convicted of murder and two counts of kidnapping in the September 1990 slaying of Jaquelyn Freeman.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles — the only authority in Georgia with the power to commute a death sentence — declined on Monday to spare his life.

Lawyers Ask Panel To Spare Life Of Inmate Set For Execution

Sep 25, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections

A Georgia prisoner scheduled for execution this week has spent the last 27 years regretting the decisions that led him to kill his sister-in-law as she was on her way to work with his estranged wife, his lawyers said in a clemency application.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59, is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday at the state prison in Jackson for the September 1990 shooting death of Jacquelyn Freeman.

Daniel LaChance

A new book by Emory History Professor Daniel LaChance tackles the changing perception of capital punishment in America. He argues the court trial, the sentencing, and the execution process are all deeply societal events that reflect the public’s relationship with government. Daniel LaChance joins us in studio.

A federal appeals court paved the way on Wednesday for Ohio to resume executions by lifting a lower court's decision to halt the state's lethal injection process.

It was a contentious decision that split the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges in an 8-6 vote.

In the case brought by death row inmates, the judges focused on the effects of the sedative midazolam, one of the three lethal injection drugs used by Ohio.

Georgia Executes Man Who Killed Elderly Neighbor In 1992

May 17, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections

Georgia on Wednesday carried out its first execution this year, putting to death a man convicted of killing his 73-year-old neighbor 25 years ago.

J.W. Ledford's time of death was 1:17 a.m. after an injection of compounded barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson, Warden Eric Sellers told witnesses. Ledford, 45, was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of Dr. Harry Johnston in Murray County.

Georgia Department of Corrections

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has declined to commute the death sentence of J.W. Ledford. His execution is scheduled to be carried out Tuesday, May 16. It will be the first one this year. Georgia has long played a central role in the death penalty debate.

Georgia Department of Corrections via AP

Lawyers for a Georgia inmate scheduled for execution next week are asking the state parole board to spare his life, citing a rough childhood, substance abuse from an early age and his intellectual disability.

J.W. Ledford Jr., 45, is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday. He was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of his neighbor, 73-year-old Dr. Harry Johnston, near his home in Murray County, in northwest Georgia.

Georgia Sets Execution For Man Convicted Of Killing Doctor

Apr 27, 2017
Georgia Department of Corrections via AP

A Georgia death-row inmate convicted of killing a 73-year-old doctor 25 years ago is set for execution next month, the state's attorney general said Wednesday. He would be the first inmate executed in the state this year.

Updated 11:40 p.m. ET

Arkansas executed two inmates on Monday night, the first double execution in the U.S. since 2000.

The second inmate put to death was Marcel Williams. He and the prisoner executed just before him, Jack Jones Jr. — both convicted murderers — had filed last-minute appeals that were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Updated at 2 a.m. ET

Arkansas has carried out its first execution since 2005, just minutes before the expiration of the inmate's death warrant.

Ledell Lee was executed by lethal injection minutes before midnight Friday Central time in Grady, Ark. at the Cummins Unit facility, shortly before the warrant was set to expire.

Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday, NPR member station KUAR Public Radio reports.

Faced with an expiring supply of a controversial sedative, the state of Arkansas plans to execute eight men over 11 days — a pace that is unprecedented in recent U.S. history and that has been criticized by lawyers and former corrections officials.

The state is set to carry out the executions two a day on four days between April 17 and April 27. Multiple lawsuits have been filed over the schedule, citing concerns about the speed. Arkansas' governor and attorney general say the deaths will bring closure to victims' families.

Courtesy of Lauren Knapp

A doctor who kills people intentionally, that’s the subject of a new documentary film called “The Sandman.” Dr. Carlo Musso has been helping the state of Georgia execute inmates by lethal injection since 2003. The film explores his justifications for doing no harm as a physician, and serving as an executioner. We speak with the filmmaker Lauren Knapp.

The Associated Press

Georgia led the nation last year in death row executions. Nine men were put to death by lethal injection in 2016. That’s more executions than any other year since capital punishment was reinstated nationwide 40 years ago.

In 2016, 30 people were sentenced to death in America, and 20 people were executed.

Those numbers are the lowest in decades, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, which collects data on capital punishment in the United States, and advocates against the death penalty.

The 2016 numbers fit with a multi-decade trend. Death sentences and executions have been declining steadily since the mid-1990s.

Georgia Department of Corrections

Update 12/07/2016:

 

 The Supreme Court of Georgia and U.S. Supreme Court denied Sallie’s attorney’s requests for a stay of execution Tuesday. Sallie was executed at 10:05 p.m. Tuesday evening. 

Original Story:

On Tuesday night, Georgia plans to carry out its ninth execution of the year, the most since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976.

 

At the same time, new death sentences are getting rarer and rarer. It’s been more than two years since a Georgia jury handed one down.

 

Getting inside the state’s capital punishment contradiction, means getting inside the cases of the condemned. 

 

Georgia is set to break an unusual record on November 16, 2016 with the planned execution of Steven Frederick Spears. Spears is on death row for the 2001 murder of his ex-girlfriend in Dahlonega. And if he's put to death this evening as scheduled, Georgia will top Texas for the most calendar-year executions in 2016.   It turns out Georgia was influential to how modern public opinion of the death penalty was shaped. That's the story told in a forthcoming documentary about the case of Jerome Bowden. Bowden was executed 30 years ago after 10 years on death row for murder.

According to a National Science Foundation report from 2014, Hispanic college students received only 12 percent of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees and African-American students less than 9 percent. To bolster diversity in STEM fields, the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) funds and encourages students of color to enroll in science-related majors. The organization was recently awarded a $4 million grant by the NSF to continue the effort. LSAMP director Angela Birkes Stokes joins us to talk about the program's next steps.

Grant Blankenship / Georgia Public Broadcasting

Should the State of Georgia execute Gregory Paul Lawler as planned on Wednesday, it will mark a milestone in at least two different ways.

 

Lawler was sentenced to death for the 1997 killing of Atlanta police officer John Sowa. His execution will be the seventh in Georgia in 2016. That makes two more than in 2015 and makes Georgia the only state in the nation accelerating the rate of execution year over year. That’s the first milestone.

 

Wiki Commons

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer made a big announcement recently. The company will no longer allow its products to be used for executions. Pfizer was the last FDA approved supplier of lethal injection drugs so now many states including Georgia will have to get their drugs from pharmacies that are loosely regulated. These facilities are called compounding pharmacies. 

We speak with Mercer University College of Pharmacy's Grady Strom about what compounding pharmacies are, how they're regulated, and the ethical debate among pharmacists about providing drugs for lethal injection.