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September 28, 2015

A busy (and diverse) week for execution plans and capital concerns

Over the next three days, three condemned murderers are scheduled to be executed in three different states, and in each case a different pitch is being made to try to halt the execution.  Here are the basics: 

Tuesday, September 29Georgia is scheduled to execute Kelly Gissendaner, who would be the first woman executed by the state in 70 years. She was convicted in February 1997 of conspiring with her lover to kill her husband. (The lover, who took a plea deal and testified against Gissendaner, is serving a life sentence and he will be eligible for parole in 2022.)  The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles announced today it would consider additional pleas for clemency at a hearing the morning of the scheduled executions.

Wednesday, September 30Oklahoma is scheduled to execute Richard Glossip, who was the lead litigant in the challenge to Oklahoma's execution protocol which a divided Supreme Court rejected in Glossip v. Gross.  He was convicted (again) a 2004 retrial of conspiring with a co-worker to kill their boss.  (The co-worker, who took a plea deal and testified against Glossip, is serving an LWOP sentence.)  The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, in a split vote today, declined to halt Glossip's execution after having delayed it earlier this month based principally on renewed claims of Glossip's innocence.

Thursday, Oct 1Virginia is scheduled to execution Alfredo Prieto, who is a foreign national and whose guilt in a number of killings seems to be uncontested. He was first sent to California's death row for the rape/murder of a teenage girl before being transferred and sentenced to death in Virginia five years ago for the 1988 killing of two college students. His lawyers assert he is intellectually disabled and apparently want him sent back to California to have his disability claim considered on the other coast.

For the sake of assessing my ability to prognosticate in the capital arena, I will on Monday predict that at least one, perhaps two, but not all three of these executions will be completed this week. Anyone else care to make predictions about any or all of these cases on the eve of what will surely be a mid-week full of capital conversations and litigation.

September 28, 2015 at 06:55 PM | Permalink


YES September 29: GA is scheduled to execute Kelly Gissendaner
NO September 30: OK is scheduled to execute Richard Glossip
YES October 01: VA is scheduled to execute Alfredo Prieto

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady „ the Nemo Me ☺ Impune Lacessit guy in Oregon ‼ | Sep 29, 2015 5:03:36 AM

The majority said “the legal principle of finality of judgment” trumps Glossip's claims of innocence. Those who can read into the US Constitution that principle, or support it, in the context of the death penalty, are beyond reason. You wouldn't wish or accept it upon yourselves, so don't wish or condone it upon others. That this statement was made in the name of American Justice says it all.

Posted by: peter | Sep 29, 2015 6:40:28 AM

Contra the implication of at least one past comment, apparently the Oklahoma Supreme Court spending a few days on the case now that the USSC basically signed off on the execution with a sense of finality is not the same thing as any petition being enough to stop an execution using a "got to be perfect" standard.

I find this an unsavory business, but prediction-wise, Glossip seems more likely than at least one of the other ones. Now that the governor refused to intervene, the Prieto case seems a long shot too. That leaves Kelly Gissendaner, who recruited a lover [life for testifying] to kill her husband for insurance money etc. Slight odds. Part of this is that killing a spouse for money is not quite the "worse of the worst" sort of crime many people on death row are there for. But, we will see.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 29, 2015 10:18:11 AM

God Joe, are you really harping on SH's "perfection" standard. He was arguing that perfection shouldn't be the standard.

Hmmm. The betrayal involved in killing a spouse for money seems pretty awful. They zapped some woman in Virginia for the same thing.

Prieto is tailor-made for the death penalty. A brutal killer who abused the kindness of America.

The only sad thing about Glossip was the 3-2 decision---they had years to make the case, but can only come up with a weak case so late in the game.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 29, 2015 11:11:22 AM

A single reference in a post following up on the very case referenced does not to me seem to be "harping" on it and the court's action helps show a strawman was raised. "Perfection" is not the standard sought & them taking the case didn't mean merely filing something will stop executions indefinitely. If the anti-death penalty side provides patent strawman, they would be called out. I believe in evenhanded rules there.

Betrayal involving killing a spouse is pretty awful. Thus, the prison time. I'm not sure what sort of first degree murder is not "pretty awful," but the state, prosecutors, juries and judges only provide a limited number of them with death sentences. In the pool of those actually executed, no, she is not "worse of the worst," the standard basically used. The fact "some woman" somewhere (not knowing the exact details) was executed notwithstanding. The arbitrary application of the rules so by some shot by lightening such a person, while those most would deem more heinous are not executed is part of the problem with the application of the death penalty.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 29, 2015 12:19:39 PM

Good grief, Joe. First of all, you can never, on the merits defend a specific stay. So whatever.

But more to the point, your lame assertion about "worst of the worst" and arbitrariness just doesn't get it done. First of all, unless there is some independent proportionality review (which should have long been done), and even then, proclaiming someone not the worst of the worst doesn't entitle them to commutation.

Gissendaner betrayed her own children for some money and sex. She deserves death.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 29, 2015 8:27:27 PM

√ YES September 30:
GA executed Kelly Gissendaner

? NO September 30:
OK is scheduled to execute Richard Glossip

? YES October 01:
VA is scheduled to execute Alfredo Prieto

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady „ the Nemo Me ☺ Impune Lacessit guy in Oregon ‼ | Sep 30, 2015 5:28:13 AM

One down, two to go.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 30, 2015 7:55:06 AM

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