Don Johnson was executed in Tennessee for the 1984 suffocation of his wife, Connie. He initially blamed his wife’s slaying on a work-release inmate. In Alabama, Michael Brandon Samra was put to death for taking part in the killings of four people, including two young girls.
A new Justice Department legal opinion could lead to more executions in the U.S. by easing the availability of drugs used to carry out lethal injections. The opinion says the Food and Drug Administration lacks the authority to regulate drugs or other items used in connection with the death penalty.
California prosecutors are pursuing capital punishment in several major murder cases despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s halt to executions. There were five new death sentences in the state last year, a record low.
A federal lawsuit by death row inmates has renewed a court fight over whether the sedative Arkansas uses for lethal injections causes torturous executions, two years after the state raced to put eight convicted killers to death in 11 days before a previous batch of the drug expired.
The order came too late to execute Christopher Price. The 5-to-4 ruling indicated that the high court’s conservative majority is far less likely to agree to last-minute stay requests from those facing execution.
A letter sent by prosecutors notes that they would reconsider a lesser punishment if the defense provides sufficient reason, which in death-penalty cases typically includes a confession, especially to crimes not yet charged.
The Supreme Court halted the execution of Patrick Murphy of the infamous “Texas Seven” after Murphy claimed that the state was violating his religious rights by not allowing him to have a Buddhist chaplain in the room. The court gave Texas a choice of not allowing any chaplains in the room or permitting chaplains of all religions.