Today, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a ruling that no one is going to be executed in the State of Kentucky until things are done by the book regarding the lethal injection killing method. The high court set no deadline on when capital punishment might resume in Kentucky, either. Its formal opinion is already published
This week, the New York Times reports that dissents are increasing in federal cases, based in large part upon judicial frustration with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. According to their investigation and research, this single statute has been the basis of 6 -24 dissents per year in federal death penalty…
Today, they filed an appeal with the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court, to try and stop the execution of John Richard Marek. With the Florida Supreme Court ruling that it will not hear…
Around twenty years ago, a cop was gunned down in Savannah and Troy Davis was caught and convicted for the crime. Nineteen years old at the time, he was sentenced to die, and he has watched all this time pass – 1989 to today – from a small, bleak Death Row cell over in Georgia.…
Today, in the final part of our three part series: the record of errors in Florida’s use of lethal injection as a method of execution is discussed. Again, much of the language used here can be seen in any number of defensive motions filed in capital punishment matters across the state today.
Lethal Injection is the Most Commonly Botched Method of Execution
The history of execution by lethal injection in the United States is a miserable one. It has been characterized as the most commonly botched method of execution in the United States. Sims v. State, 754 So. 2d 657, 667, n.19 (Fla. 2000) (quoting the expert testimony of Professor Michael Radelet).
Since 1985, there have been at least twenty-one executions by lethal execution that were botched. Marion J. Borg and Michael Radelet, On Botched Executions in Capital Punishment: Strategies for Abolition 143-168 (Peter Hodgkinson and William Schabas eds., 2001). Lethal injection, meant to be the neat and modern execution method, [has been] plagued with problems, or execution glitches, as they are also referred to in the business. Stephen Trombley, THE EXECUTION PROTOCOL: INSIDE AMERICA’S CAPITAL PUNISHMENT INDUSTRY 14 (1992).
Some of The Horrific Examples of Botched Executions Using Lethal Injection
Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois have reported bungled attempts to dispatch prisoners by lethal injection. These mistakes include blow-outs, improperly inserted catheters (no doubt attributable to the fact that, for ethical reasons, physicians are not involved in the process), and the improper mixture of the lethal solution. Id. A few notable examples follow. 
Stephen Morin, in Texas, lay on the gurney for 45 minutes while technicians punctured him repeatedly in an attempt to find a vein suitable for injection. Denno, supra at 111.
In April, 1998, the needle popped out during Joseph Cannon’s execution, also in Texas. Seeing this, Cannon lay back, closed his eyes, and exclaimed to the witnesses, It’s come undone. Officials then pulled a curtain to block the view of witnesses, reopening it fifteen minutes later when a weeping Cannon made a second final statement and the execution process resumed. Borg & Radelet, supra at 143-168.
In Louisiana, witnesses to the April, 1997, execution of John Ashley Brown saw Brown go into violent convulsions after he was administered the drugs.
In May 1997, Oklahoma inmate Scott Dawn Carpenter shook uncontrollably, emitted guttural sounds and gasped for breath until his body stopped moving. Borg & Radelet, supra at 143- 168.
An attorney who witnessed the June, 2000, execution of Bert Leroy Hunter reported that Hunter had violent convulsions. His head and chest jerked rapidly upward as far as the gurney restraints would allow, and then he fell quickly down upon the gurney. His body convulsed back and forth repeatedly. Id.
Continue Reading In-Depth Look at the Law: Does the Florida Death Penalty by Lethal Injection Violate the Constitution? (Part 3)
Monday, the Supreme Court heard argument in the Bies case (see 04/27/09 post), and the very next day issued its opinion in Cone v. Bell, 555 U.S. ___ (2009), both capital punishment cases where the defendant argued a diminished capacity of some sort. In today’s case, there was an intentional hiding of the ball by the State and a definite due process problem.
Gary Cone was a known drug addict who murdered two people.
It is undisputed that Gary Cone was a Vietnam veteran who returned home to Memphis, Tennessee, and failed to cope well with civilian life. One Saturday morning in 1980, Gary Cone robbed a jewelry store – obviously, not very well – and was promptly pursued by local police in what turned into a high speed chase.
Veering into a residential neighborhood, Cone abandoned his car and shot both a police officer and a Good Samaritan who tried to stop him as Cone fled on foot. On the hunt for another getaway car, Cone tried to carjack someone and when they refused to give them the keys, he tried to shoot them, too, only to find he was out of bullets. By this time, helicopters were flying overhead and the scene was escalating to a frantic pace. (You’ve seen the reality TV shows like COPS, you can visualize these events.)
Somehow that Saturday afternoon, Cone got away. No one could find him. However, early the next morning, Gary Cone was still in the neighborhood – knocking on the door of an elderly couple, Shipley and Cleopatra Todd. He asked to use their phone; Cleo Todd refused and slammed the door on Cone. Cleo called the cops, and still Cone could not be found.
The tragedy occurred later that same day. Cone returned to the Todd home, forced himself into their house, and beat the two senior citizens to death before tearing their house apart. He shaved there, got himself to the Memphis airport, and was busted while robbing a drug store in Pompano Beach, Florida a couple of days later.
Vietnam Vet Cone Asserted an Insanity Defense – He Didn’t Contest His Actions
Vietnam vet Gary Cone was arrested, tried, and convicted of the Todds’ murder. He never challenged evidence that showed he committed these horrific acts. What he asserted as his defense was his mental illness: Cone’s defense team brought forth evidence to show that Cone suffered from chronic amphetamine psychosis, a mental disorder caused by excessive drug abuse.
Experts testified that the drug use began while Cone was serving in Vietnam, where he was using “horrific” quantities of drugs while dealing with the bodies of dead soldiers. The mental illness caused by this drug use created a level of paranoia and a disorder including hallucinations that would keep Cone from understanding or being able to conform to everyday life and the boundaries imposed by Tennessee law.
In sum, the entirety of Cone’s defense was mental illness. He was legally insane when the crimes were committed.
Continue Reading US Supreme Court Finds Prosecution Intentionally Violated Due Process in 20 Yr Old Death Penalty Case
Last week, over in a Chicago courtroom, Nathan Fields stood to hear Circuit Judge Vincent Gardenia find him not guilty of murder. Nathan Fields is 55 years old, and he’s finally been cleared 23 years after he was sentenced to death by a notoriously corrupt Illinois judge.
What happened in Nathan Fields’ case?
The truth has come to light, and it has been shown that the trial court judge in Fields’ initial trial accepted a $10,000 bribe in the case. Judge Tom Mahoney actually took the money to find Fields and his codefendant not guilty, but apparently Mahoney got nervous that he was about to be caught. So, he returned the bribe to its source, went ahead and found both men guilty of a double murder, and sentenced them both to death.
Nathan Fields Spent 7 Years on Death Row and Awaited Retrial for 11 Years
Nathan Fields was granted a new trial in 1998, and he was released pending retrial in 2003 when a fellow Death Row inmate put up his bail. That Death Row inmate who put up the money for Fields to walk free pending full exoneration is a man named Aaron Patterson. He’s still on Death Row.
Patterson’s generosity allowed Fields to be free in Chicago, with his family, after serving seven years on Illinois’ Death Row. Still, it was over ten years before Fields’ case came before another judge and his name was cleared of the murder charge.
What are his plans now?
Nathan Fields plans on taking a vacation with his family – he’s never seen the ocean or the mountains, he’s told reporters. He also plans on opening a construction company with his friend Aaron Patterson – although right now, Aaron Patterson remains behind bars.
Judge Tom Mahoney Fixed Murder Trials for Money
These are all facts that have been established. Judge Mahoney was caught for his evildoing, tried, and found guilty of conspiracy, racketeering, extortion, and obstructing justice in April 1993. Thomas Mahoney spent over 12 years behind bars before he died at the age of 83.
Continue Reading 23 Years After Being Sentenced to Die, 55 Year Old Nathan Fields Finally Exonerated