Odell Barnes Jr.

L'association Lutte Pour la Justice (LPJ) a été créée en 1999 pour soutenir Odell Barnes Jr., jeune afro-américain condamné à mort en 1991 à Huntsville (Texas) pour un crime qu'il n'avait pas commis et exécuté le 1er mars 2000 à l'aube de ses 32 ans. En sa mémoire et à sa demande, l'association se consacre à la lutte pour l'abolition de la peine de mort aux Etats-Unis et en particulier au Texas. (voir article "Livre "La machine à tuer" de Colette Berthès en libre accès" ) : https://www.lagbd.org/images/5/50/MATlivre.pdf

mardi 5 octobre 2021

Sherwood Brown Exonerated in Mississippi, 186th Death-Row Exoneration Since 1973

 

Sherwood Brown has been exonerated of the charges that sent him to death row in Mississippi in 1995 for a triple murder he did not commit. On August 24, 2021, DeSoto County Circuit Court Judge Jimmy McClure granted a prosecution motion to dismiss charges against Brown (pictured after his release), who was released later that day after having spent 26 years on the state’s death row or facing the prospects of a capital retrial.

“We are extremely thankful to see Sherwood walk out of prison a free man,” said John R. Lane, a principal at the law firm, Fish & Richardson, which represented Brown pro bono. “After all of this time, we never lost hope, and are gratified justice has finally been served.” Brown also was represented pro bono by co-counsel from the Mississippi Innocence Project and the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Brown was sentenced to death for the murder of 13-year-old Evangela Boyd and received two life sentences for the murders of her mother and grandmother. His convictions and death sentence rested in substantial part on false expert forensic testimony, as well as and the perjured testimony of an jailhouse informant who was a previously convicted felon facing additional, serious charges for car theft, and who claimed that Brown had confessed to the murders. Prosecutors had argued that blood that was found on the sole of one of Brown’s shoes came from the victims and two forensic bitemark analysts falsely claimed that a cut on Brown’s wrist was a bitemark that matched the girl’s bite pattern.

DNA evidence later showed that bloody footprints in and around the murder scene contained only female DNA and the blood spot on Brown’s shoe contained only male DNA. DNA testing on a swab of Boyd’s saliva did not contain Brown’s DNA, refuting the claim that she had bitten Brown. DNA tests on the sexual assault kit collected during the autopsy found no DNA from Brown but showed that Evangelista Boyd’s pubic hair and her bra contained DNA from unidentified males. A forensic scientist from the Mississippi Crime Laboratory found that none of the hair evidence recovered from the clothing and bodies of the victims had any microscopic characteristics similar to Brown’s hair and a crime lab fingerprint analyst found that none of the fingerprints found at the scene belonged to Brown.

Brown is the 100th African-American in the U.S. since 1973 to be exonerated from a wrongful capital conviction and death sentence. According to data maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center, 186 men and women who had been sentenced to death pursuant to wrongful convictions have now been exonerated, seven in Mississippi. Brown is the third former Mississippi death-row prisoner exonerated in the past year. Curtis Flowers was exonerated on September 4, 2020, and Eddie Lee Howard was exonerated January 8, 2021

Junk science — and in particular false bitemark testimony — has contributed to numerous death-row exonerations. Dr. Michael West, a notorious prosecution expert witness whose false bitemark testimony has contributed to at least five wrongful murder convictions, including three wrongful death sentences, provided a letter to the prosecution that “[t]he wound on the left wrist of Sherwood Brown is a human bitemark. It is a bitemark of great severity and is consistant [sic] with the time of the attack. The bitemark pattern is highly consistant [sic] with the dentition of Evanlie [sic] Boyd.”

West ultimately did not testify in Brown’s case because he had a scheduling conflict — he was providing false forensic testimony against another Mississippi death-row exoneree, Kennedy Brewer. However, Dr. Harry Mincer testified “that the [upper] teeth of Evangela Boyd highly probably had made the bitemark on … the left wrist of Sherwood Brown.”

Bitemark-identification claims such as those made by West were the subject of blistering criticism by the National Academies of Science in their landmark 2009 report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. In 2011, West subsequently admitted in a deposition in the case of death-row exoneree Eddie Lee Howard that he “no longer believe[s] in bite-mark analysis. I don’t think it should be used in court. I think you should use DNA. Throw bite marks out.”

In 2012, the Mississippi Supreme Court granted Brown’s motion for DNA testing, leading to the evidence that debunked the blood and bitemark cornerstones of the prosecution’s case. In their motion for a new trial, Brown’s lawyers argued that “the two pieces of physical evidence that the state alleged at the 1995 trial, linked petitioner to the crime scene — and upon which the state relied to gain a conviction and sentence in this matter — do not in fact link the petitioner to the crime scene, and are not what the state purported them to be.”

The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned Brown’s conviction and death sentence in October 2017. Despite the exculpatory DNA evidence, Brown remained in custody as prosecutors tried to build another case against him. Over the course of three years, four more laboratories tested the DNA evidence and came back with the same results while Brown remained in county prison facing possible capital retrial. “Every time, there was nothing incriminating Sherwood,” Lane said of the state’s actions. “The state was trying to find something to incriminate Sherwood, but every time they did, it kind of stumped them deeper.”

Finally, after the years of extra DNA testing, the prosecution indicated that it had no intent to reprosecute Brown and moved to dismiss the charges against him.

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/news/sherwood-brown-exonerated-in-mississippi-186th-death-row-exoneration-since-1973

lundi 27 septembre 2021

mardi 28 septembre, à 13h50, sur France 2 sera diffusée l'émission "Ça commence aujourd'hu

 

UNE ÉMISSION A NE PAS MANQUER :

Ce mardi 28 septembre, à 13h50, sur France 2 sera diffusée l'émission "Ça commence aujourd'hui" à laquelle participent Sabine Atlaoui et Nadine Broxton. Celle-ci, membre de notre association LPJ-SAVE est l'épouse d'Eugène BROXTON, que nous soutenons, et qui se bat dans le couloir de la mort du Texas depuis 30 ans, pour faire reconnaître son innocence. Bref, à ne pas manquer !

(Information donnée par A-S. Minne)

John Henry Ramirez (en anglais)

John Henry Ramirez spent hours in a jail cell that sits only a few feet from the room where more people are put to death each year than any other in the United States.

Then, hours after his scheduled execution, the death row inmate was shifted into the epicenter of a case that could drastically change the comfort afforded to people sentenced to die in the state that leads the nation in executions.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Nov. 1 in a case that questions if the state of Texas violates the Free Exercise Clause and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Ramirez claims that the state has prevented his pastor, Dana Moore, from praying aloud with him and placing hands on him as he dies.

This Supreme Court intervention would be unnecessary if Texas officials had allowed a little humanity in an otherwise inhumane process.

The argument now is expected to trigger an unusual delay in state executions and lead to multiple postponements.

The case draws roots to the scheduled execution of Patrick Murphy. At the time, Texas allowed for state-employed chaplains to be with the inmate inside of the chamber. Either a Christian or Muslim chaplain would normally stand at the feet of the inmate, touch his leg and pray as he passed away. Murphy, a practicing Buddhist, wanted a monk to pray with him inside the chamber as he was put to death. He appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a stay.

TDCJ responded by barring all clergy from the death chamber.

However, that ended earlier this year when a change in the agency’s protocol allowed for inmates to select their own spiritual advisor. That advisor was instructed to silently stand in the corner of the room much like a potted plant.

The question before the Supreme Court is simple. Should the state have humanity and allow an inmate to practice their religion up to their death? And where does the right to practice religion end?

“The issue really isn’t about death penalty law,” said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “Eventually all of the prisoners will be executed, unless they have other grounds. This is about rather and to what extent the state is going to be humane. Does it want to carry out executions in a vengeful way, or does it want to extend human decency and behave in a dignified way?”

Texas is one of the last remaining states to execute people. The process should be carried out in the most humane way possible, so long as it doesn’t seriously impact the integrity of the execution process.

Does restricting how someone practices religion change the outcome of the execution process?

No.

Will barring an inmate from practicing their religion fix the wrongs they perpetrated?

No.

If the state insists on clinging to the otherwise inhumane process of executing people convicted of heinous crimes, it should at least ensure the process doesn’t stoop to meet the wrongs it purports to correct. There is a reason this state no longer conducts executions on the public square, by electrocution or within a gas chamber.

We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for stepping in and we hope that this move will force the state to afford both humanity and compassion in the final moments of life for the people it puts to death.

— Herald-Banner

  

samedi 25 septembre 2021

Abolir la peine de mort

 

Abolir la peine de mort 16/09/2021

Arbitraire et imprévisible

Concernant le « Texan bénéficiant d’un report d’exécution suite à sa demande d’apposition des mains de son pasteur » (7 sept.) : ceux d’entre nous qui œuvrent à faire abolir la peine de mort au Texas se réjouissent que l’exécution de John Ramirez ait fait l’objet d’un sursis de la part de la Cour Suprême des Etats-Unis.  Toutefois, nous sommes par ailleurs parfaitement conscients que ces sursis sont souvent provisoires. L’Etat du Texas détient le record national, avec 572 exécutions pratiquées depuis 1977, année du retour de la peine capitale au Texas.

En 1972, la Cour Suprême abolit la peine de mort aux Etats-Unis lorsqu’elle déclare que son application est arbitraire et relève de la loterie.

Cependant, en 1976, elle rétablit cette forme de sanction après qu’un certain nombre d’Etats a modifié sa législation pour réaménager les modes de mise en œuvre de cette peine.

Quarante-cinq ans plus tard, en 2021, les preuves indiquent sans ambiguïté que la peine de mort reste appliquée de manière arbitraire et imprévisible. Ecoper ou non de la peine de mort dépend non seulement du crime, mais aussi du statut économique et de l’origine ethnique de l’accusé, comme du lieu où le crime a été commis.

Plus de 180 personnes envoyées dans le couloir de la mort ont été acquittées et sont sorties de prison depuis le rétablissement de la peine capitale. Et tout porte à croire que nous avons exécuté des personnes qui étaient en réalité innocentes.

Vingt-deux Etats – outre Washington D.C – ont d’ores et déjà aboli la peine demort et trois autres Etats ont déclaré un moratoire sur son application. La tendance mondiale est à l’abolition de la peine capitale. Les Etats-Unis devraient suivre ce mouvement.

David Atwood, Houston.

lundi 20 septembre 2021

19e Journée mondiale contre la peine de mort : les femmes et la peine de la mort, une réalité invisible

 La Journée mondiale est consacrée aux femmes qui risquent d’être condamnées à mort, qui ont été condamnées à mort, qui ont été exécutées, ainsi qu’à celles qui ont été graciées ou reconnues innocentes. Leurs histoires sont des réalités invisibles.

À l’occasion de la 19e Journée mondiale contre la peine de mort, ECPM et ses partenaires vous donnent rendez-vous le 10 octobre à partir de 18h à l’hôtel de ville de Strasbourg. Au programme ? Des lectures de textes sur le thème de la peine de mort, un témoignage et un débat.

Photohttps://worldcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/BROCHURE-WORLD-DAY-2021-FR.pdf