“The death penalty in the South has roots in lynching,” says University of Virginia law professor and author Brandon Garrett. In a video interview at Salon, Garrett says “there’s a long, ugly history of racial bias in the American death penalty.” Garrett’s latest book is “End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice.” In it, Garrett explains what led to the decline of the death penalty, and how reforms could one day bring it to an end. Read more in this article at Salon.
UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has stayed Marcellus Williams’ execution, and will appoint a board to investigate the DNA evidence that Williams’ attorneys say clears him.
Marcellus Williams is scheduled to be executed this evening in Missouri, but his attorney says Williams’ DNA is not on the murder weapon and is fighting to stop the execution. Williams’ attorney is asking the Supreme Court to halt the execution and consider the new evidence. However, prosecutors say the DNA evidence doesn’t overcome other evidence connecting Williams to the crime. A jury convicted Williams of the stabbing death of 42-year-old newspaper reporter Felicia Gayle, who was stabbed 43 times in her home in August 1998. CNN has details on Williams’ fight to stay alive.
Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala is suing Governor Rick Scott over his removal of her from several first-degree murder cases because she opposes the death penalty. In the federal lawsuit, Ayala says the governor’s action violates her constitutional rights. The cases were reassigned to State Attorney Brad King, who is also a defendant in the lawsuit. Read more on the story in this report at CNN.