Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Upcoming Execution - Richard Strong

Richard Strong

At 6pm tonight in Missouri, 48-year old Richard Strong will be executed by lethal injection at the state's Bonne Terre prison. Convicted of the capital murder of his girlfriend, Eva Washington and her 2-year old daughter, Zaendra Thomas, Richard Strong's only hope now is to be granted clemency by Missouri governor, Jay Nixon. 

There was one small survivor of Richard Strong's vicious attack on that fateful day in October 2000 - Strong's 3-month old daughter with Washington - Alyshia. When police discovered the scene, following a 911 call from Strong himself, they found the bodies of Miss Washington, her daughter and a baby laying on a bed, alive and next to the murder weapon. Fifteen years on, Alyshia Strong - who went to live with her paternal grandmother after her mother's death - has been a strong source of support for her father. Despite her father's actions effectively leaving her an orphan, Alyshia is urging Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to spare her more loss. She believes he has spent the last fifteen years feeling nothing but remorse for his 'split-second' violent actions and that to take his life would result in a double loss for her. 

Zaendra Thomas

Richard Strong's defence team have filed several appeals in the Supreme court in the last few weeks. One claiming Strong suffers from depression and another stating his mental state makes him incapable of understanding his execution. According to Alyshia, one thing Strong is capable of is regret and remorse. She told one source that her father was 'inconsolable' that his actions had resulted in the loss of two precious lives, Apparently, Strong and Miss Washington had had a volatile relationship with both parties being violent towards the other. There was also a long history of mental illness for both parties. Richard Strong said 'something snapped in my head' that day in October 2000 and he has regretted his actions ever since. 

As Strong's execution grows ever closer it remains to be seen whether the Governor will take into account Alyshia Strong's pleas for clemency for her father. As it stands at the time of publication she stands to lose her one remaining 'parent' to the American justice system. 

Ayshia Strong with her father and half-sister.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Upcoming Execution - Lester Leroy Bower, Jr

Lester Leroy Bower, Jr
On June 3rd, 2015 the State of Texas will execute one of death row's longest serving residents,  Lester Leroy Bower, Jr. Bower is no stranger to execution dates, he has had a staggering seven dates stayed or postponed in the past. Racking up a near record of over thirty years as a death row inmate, Bower was convicted of four counts of capital murder. 

On October 8th, 1983 Lester Bower, Jr shot and killed four men, Ronald Mayes, Bob Tate, Jerry Mac Brown and Phillip Good, in an ultralight aircraft hanger outside of Sherman, Texas. Prosecutors said Bower arranged to meet one of the men under the pretence of purchasing a $4000 ultralight the man had advertised for sale. It was further alleged by prosecutors that Bower, who had planned to kill one person, had no choice but to kill the other three men too when they turned up unexpectedly at the hanger. The men's bodies were found by law enforcement on one of the victim's ranches. A subsequent search of Bower's home in Arlington unearthed pieces of an ultralight plane that had been taken from the hanger. 

Evidence used during Bower's trial.
There are many people who believe Leroy Lester Bower, Jr is an innocent man. Before being found guilty of the four execution-style murders Bower had no previous criminal record. He was a well-respected, well-liked salesman who people described as 'mild-mannered' and devoted to his wife and two daughters. The jury at Bower's trial took just two hours to convict him of the murders, the following day they took a further two hours to sentence him to death. This was despite the fact the evidence presented during trial was purely circumstantial. The murder weapon was never found, there were no witnesses or finger print evidence placing Bower at the scene and there was no signed confession. The evidence during trial concentrated on two purchases of fire arms that Bower made in 1982. The ammunition purchased, Fiocchi .22-caliber bullets, was the same as those used in the killings. Among the evidence was a sledgehammer belonging to Bower, which prosecutors alleged he used to smash up evidence of his involvement in the murders. Books, mainly on pistols, gun parts and silencers, were also seized from Bower and used as evidence against him.

Bower admitted to owning a pistol similar to the one used in the murders, however he insists he lost the weapon in 1982. Further evidence during trial suggested that Bower's lost gun could not have been the one used to murder the men because it had a specific kind of firing pin. The distinctive marks you would expect the firing pin to leave on bullet casings were not found. In 1989, a woman called one of Lester Bower's attorneys saying that her ex-boyfriend and three of his friends were the ones responsible for the murders. The killings were the result of a dope deal gone wrong. The witnesses identity and those of the people she implicated are in a court sealed document. This information was dismissed by the prosecution as being nothing more than an attempt to delay punishment on the behalf of the defence team.

Bower in 1983
Bower has received stays in the past to allow certain pieces of evidence to undergo DNA testing, which was not available in 1984. So far, the results have not returned anything to indicate Lester Bower is innocent of the crimes for which he is convicted. Bower appears to have exhausted all possible avenues for appeal and in the last couple of days, a Federal Court appeal filed on his behalf was denied by the 5th Circuit court of appeals. No doubt the families of the four men murdered are looking forward to some sort of closure after 30 years. However, many believe that if Bower's execution goes ahead on June 3rd, it will be a true miscarriage of justice. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

JonBenet Ramsey - Unsolved.

JonBenet Ramsey

JonBenet Ramsey was reported missing by her parents on the morning of December 26th, 1996. The six-year old's body was found eight hours later in the basement of the family home. The subsequent murder hunt would play out over years, with false accusations, lies, defamation lawsuits and suspicion ensuring it was and is one of the most talked about cases in America.

John and Patricia Ramsey lived with their children, Burke and Jonbenet, in an affluent area of Boulder, Colorado. The family had relocated to Boulder in 1991 when John Ramsey became president of a computer systems company. Patricia Ramsey soon began enrolling little JonBenet in beauty pageants. Beautiful little JonBenet proved popular as she went on to win a clutch of titles in several different states. Patricia Ramsey's 'obsession' with JonBenet's pageant career was criticised widely after her murder with many accusing her of sexualising the six-year old. Many believed Mrs Ramsey didn't care that her daughter was potentially fodder for padeophiles, she only cared about her winning. It was also indicated after the murder that Jonbenet had begun to rebel against her 'pagent mother' and that this had angered Patricia Ramsey. 

The ransom note found in the Ramsey home.

On the morning of December 26th, 1996, Patricia Ramsey woke up as normal, going through to the kitchen to begin preparing the family's breakfast. It was on the stairs leading to the kitchen that, according to Mrs Ramsey, she found a ransom note. The note demanded money, $118,000, for the safe return of JonBenet. The note contained very specific instructions, if the Ramsey's wished to see their daughter again they were not to contact the police, FBI, family or anyone. Despite these 'orders', Patricia Ramsey immediately called the police and several of her friends and family members. Law enforcement were quick to respond and completed, what was later to referred to as a, cursory check of the family home. As well as finding nothing unusual or any signs of forced entry, they did not find Jonbenet Ramsey. The ransom note gave a detailed account of what the kidnapper(s) wanted the Ramsey's to do regarding the ransom drop off. John Ramsey didn't mess about about and a family friend collected the full amount from the bank on the Ramsey's behalf that morning. It was while police and the family were waiting for the ransom drop off time to arrive that a Boulder police detective suggested John Ramsey and a friend check over the house again looking out for anything 'unusual'. It was during this search that John Ramsey found little Jonbenet's body in the wine cellar room of the basement. Her body was covered with her favourite blanket and she had duct tape over her mouth and nylon cord tied around her neck. There was also a handmade garrote, used to strangle little Jonbenet, fashioned from the broken handle of a paintbrush attached to the nylon cord.

Jonbenet and her brother, Burke - Christmas '96
Jonbenet Ramsey's autopsy revealed the cause of death to be blunt force trauma causing a fracture to the skull and strangulation. While the medical examiner confirmed that Jonbenet had not been raped, he could not rule out sexual assault. It wasn't long before suspicion fell on the Ramsey family. As well as investigating officers saying that the body being found in the family home was suspicious, it transpired that the paintbrush handle belonged to Patricia Ramsey. Law enforcement and members of the public began to question whether the Ramsey's had killed Jonbenet by accident and used the 'kidnapping' story as a cover up. There was even the suggestion that Patricia Ramsey may have killed Jonbenet because the little girl soiled herself. Suspicion even fell on nine-year old Burke Ramsey after his fingerprints were found on a bowl of pineapple. The autopsy had revealed Jonbenet had eaten pineapple just a couple of hours before she died, although both parents say they never saw her eating any. In the days, months and gradually the years following little JonBenet Ramsey's death, suspicion continued to fall on the family. Although there was no physical evidence suggesting guilt, at that time there was no evidence to suggest the murder had been committed by an unknown assailant. Much was also made of the ransom demand, the money requested by the kidnapper turned out to be the exact amount John Ramsey received as a bonus at work.

Thanks to advancements in DNA technology, in 2003, material extracted from blood found on JonBenet's underwear established a DNA profile. The DNA was found to belong to an unknown male - an indication at last maybe that another individual had been in the Ramsey home. Evidence was also brought to light that in the months leading up to the murder, there had been over 100 burglaries in the area where the Ramsey's lived . It wasn't until 2008 however, that the Ramsey family were completely and officially removed as suspects. Boulder District Attorney, Mary Lacy, wrote a letter to the Ramsey's apologising for the suspicious way they had been dealt with over the years and promising that the search for the real killer(s) would carry on. The following year, 2009, Patricia Ramsey lost her battle with ovarian cancer at the age of 49. 

The cordoned off Ramsey home.
Although the Ramseys were suspects in Jonbenet's murder for years, law enforcement also received huge criticism. The Ramsey family home wasn't treated as a crime scene until AFTER Jonbenet's body had been found. The house should of been secured because of the alleged kidnapping and yet friends and family were allowed to come and go as they pleased. Two of the lead investigators resigned, one because he was unhappy the Ramseys were not prosecuted and the other because of the incompetent police enquiry. In October 2013, court documents sealed since 1999 were opened revealing a Grand Jury HAD indicted the Ramseys for accessory to a crime including murder and child abuse leading to death. The court documents alleged that both parents had purposely acted in a manner that prevented or delayed the arrest of Jonbenet's killer. However, the indictment was never acted on because the documents did not say WHO had actually killed the little girl. 

The Jonbenet Ramsey case still causes debate and arguments today. There is one side who believes an inexperienced criminal got into the Ramsey home intending to kidnap Jonbenet and killed her whilst trying to subdue her. Then there is the other side who believe John, Patricia or even Burke Ramsey are individually or collectively responsible for the murder. Boulder County law enforcement insist the case remains active and there is hope one day the real story of what happened to Jonbenet Ramsey will be revealed. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Happy Birthday Eye 4 n Eye

Thanks for Reading!
Today marks 12 months since I started this blog and I wanted to mark the occasion in a couple of ways. Firstly, I want to open up the blog once more to any budding writers out there who believe they can bring something to the blog by way of a guest post. I have had great success in the past with guest bloggers and I enjoyed reading another person's point of view. If you are interested in writing a post for the Eye 4 N Eye blog you can simply voice your interest in the comments section of this post or contact me privately at lollipopwrites@gmail.com.

Secondly, I am asking readers for any particular cases they would like to see covered on the blog. If you have a favourite case or you are interested in the story behind an upcoming execution please let me know via comments or contact me at the email address above. 

I have enjoyed every single blog post I have written in the last 12 months and I have watched my little blog gradually gather a little following. Perhaps most importantly though, I have learned an incredible amount from the different people who have left comments over the last 12 months. One person in particular, who I won't name but she regularly comments, has taught me to look at cases, concepts, ideas, evidence etc from several angles. Her comments and amazing knowledge on certain cases have not only changed my mind completely on the Robert Pruett case (I originally felt he was innocent) but she has also made me question why I, and even IF, I support the death penalty. Although I have learned from her comments, she is not the only one who has brought something to the table or had an impact on my point of view. For this, I thank each and every one of you, regardless of your opinion, who has taken the time to read and/or leave a comment on the blog. 

Here's to the next 12 months, I look forward to new and old readers sharing their opinions, experiences and knowledge on all future posts.

Thank's for reading! 

Happy 1st Birthday, Eye 4 N Eye!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Guy Heinze, Jr - The Unanswered Questions.

Guy Heinze Jr
Just as in the case of Robert Pruett I first became aware of the Guy Heinze Jr case after watching the BBC documentary Life and Death Row (see link below to watch the Heinze episode). The thing that intrigued me most about this case was the fact that one man was allegedly responsible for the brutal beatings of nine people, eight of whom died from their injuries. I have covered this story in more detail in a past blog post. After reading some of the comments left on the post I decided to put together some of the major points, brought up by a specialist consultant for the defence during trial, that would appear to indicate Guy Heinze Jr is not guilty of this crime. Is this man, handed a life without parole sentence in 2013, really guilty of killing his own father and seven members of his extended family?. I will leave you to make note of the points made and ask you draw your own conclusions. I look forward to reading your thoughts in this post's comments section. 

Michael Knox was a sociology and forensic evidence consultant for the Heinze Jr defence team, as well as offer his expert opinion on the crime scene, the crime itself and procedures he also completed partial blood pattern analysis from crime scene photographs. Below are the major points, in my opinion, made during his testimony and cross examination by the prosecution. 

1. Knox questioned why a pair of handmade nun chucks (two pieces of steel piping approx five inches long held together by an S clip) were not collected by law enforcement during the evidence sweep of the house. Law enforcement said the nun chucks, found in some tires next to the family's trailer, were placed there AFTER the crime. Knox found this to be unlikely and went on to say that several injuries on the victims, logged as cockroach bites by the Medical Examiner, could of been caused by these nun chucks. Knox also stated that ALL of the victims had injuries that indicated being beaten by a long, thin weapon (the rifle in evidence) but that there were also injuries consistent with a smaller, blunter and heavier object.

2. The crime scene was a gory blood soaked mess. Knox said there was absolutely no way the perpetrator walked away from the scene without being significantly covered in blood. He also went on to state that it would of taken the killer more than a quick clean up or shower to rid themselves of the blood transfer. Knox said the killer would of had to take a significant length of time scrubbing themselves clean, using a brush. He went on to say that the blood spatter would of gotten into every crevice of the killer's skin. Yet Guy Heinze Jr had a small amount of blood on his hands, his flip flops and a bloody smudge on his shorts/underwear. 

3. Knox questioned why Guy Heinze Jr's car was not tested for blood. He said even IF he had driven away from the scene (tracks in the dirt indicated a vehicle had arrived and left) cleaned up and returned there would of been blood transfer in the vehicle. No matter how much cleaning was done, Luminol would of shown something. Yet this technique was never used by law enforcement. Despite the fact a mobile phone, allegedly covered in one of the victim's blood, was retrieved from the trunk. 

4. Knox acknowledged blood had been found on the bottom of Guy Heinze Jr's flip flops. This transfer will of occurred when he entered the trailer and found the scene said Knox. This is supported, he continued, by the fact that only two of the victim's blood was present on the soles. 

5. Knox pointed out a pile of clothing covered in spots of blood in one of the bathrooms. None of the victims were found in this room and yet the clothes were not taken to be tested. While Knox acknowledged the spots could of dripped from the end of a rifle, he also added the blood could of just as easily been that of the assailant and the clothes should of been taken into evidence. 

6. Knox testified that there was evidence to show Chrissy Toler, her boyfriend Joseph West, 30 and her younger sister, Michelle Toler, 15 had changed positions and moved around the room in which they were killed. He even indicated further evidence to suggest that Chrissy Toler had tried to escape the horror through a window. How on earth did Guy Heinze Jr subdue and murder three mobile individuals and a small child (Chrissy's son, Byron 3 was also in the room and badly beaten but survived his injuries) without getting any blood on him? receiving no injuries? and without any of the victims raising the alarm? Who stopped Chrissy Toler from exiting that window, while also beating or at least holding back her boyfriend?

7. Knox testified on the pictures of the room where Russel Toler, Sr was beaten to death. He went on to say that Toler, Sr had put up a huge fight for his life and that there was clear evidence he had been struck while standing/lying in four separate locations of the room. He also testified that the evidence in the picture indicated at one point that Russel Toler, Sr had been struck from both sides of the bed at the same time. This could clearly not be done by one person alone and would indicate there was at least one other assailant.

8. There was blood spatter evidence to indicate that Brenda Toler had a pillow placed over her face while she was being beaten. Evidence also indicated she had furiously fought back and waved her left arm. The arm had a smudged print that indicated it had been held back to prevent her hitting her attacker. So how did one attacker manage to use one hand to hold the pillow over her face, another to hold her arm back and then seemingly a third hand to carry out the brutal beating?

9. Guy Heinze's father, Guy Heinze, Sr, was the only person who was killed in his sleep. Asleep on the floor, cast off spatter indicated he had put up no resistance when being killed. However, all seven of the other victims put up a fierce battle for their lives, leading Knox to testify that the person(s) responsible would not have walked away from the trailer without their own injuries - visible injuries at that. 

10. Knox testified that the blood found on Guy Heinze Jr's shorts was nowhere near enough to indicate he was responsible for the bloody beatings of nine people. He went on to say the blood that was found was smudged, indicating it had to have been transferred from somewhere else, and not cast off spatter. Guy Heinze's shirt, Knox testified, was also clear of blood something that would of been impossible to achieve in the wake of the violent struggle eight people put up in defence of their lives. Knox stated the crime scene was a 'blood bath' and that Guy Heinze had nowhere near the amount of blood on him he would expect to be found on the assailant. Instead, the blood found on Guy Heinze Jr's clothes was more indicative of being as a result of transfer when he entered the trailer and found the bloody scene. 

The Family's Cordoned Off Trailer Home.

Michael Knox was extremely critical of the way law enforcement handled the crime scene and the evidence that was taken. He implied that evidence had been stored together and that the crime scene itself had not been properly sealed off until several officers had been through the home. He also commented on the testimony of one of the witnesses who revealed the family's dog, known for barking at strangers, was tied up on the porch and had not barked to raise the alarm. However, the same witness revealed she had woken up briefly at around 2am on the morning of the murders because of 'dogs barking'. Michael Knox also questioned Guy Heinze Jr's alleged motive - that he had carried out the murders for a bottle of prescription medicine. Knox testified he found it hard to believe that a person would wipe out his entire family in such a brutal manner for the sake of a 'bottle of weak pain pills'. 

Whatever your individual opinion is on the Guy Heinze Jr case, it seems clear to me there are just too many unanswered questions surrounding the murders. How his trial did not end in acquittal is beyond me and I have to admit, the more I read about the case the more I believe Guy Heinze Jr may well be an innocent man. In fact, I believe that law enforcement took the fact he was a drug addict with a unaccountable alibi and developed tunnel vision. They didn't even consider, never mind look for, other suspects because Guy Heinze Jr was their man from the get go. Michael Knox ended his testimony by adding there was no documented case of one individual killing six people, never mind eight. 

Below is the episode of the BBC documentary Life and Death Row entitled Judgement, which covers the Guy Heinze Jr case through trial and the verdict. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

America's Worst 'Botched' Executions.

The electric chair is a secondary execution option in most States.

When the crimes of prisoners condemned to death are taken into account it can be difficult to come up with a valid reason to keep them alive. However, capital punishment in America is meant to be humane, anything different is regarded as cruel and unusual punishment. As well as psychologically damaging anyone involved in the execution process, the threat of expensive law suits and the obvious distress to the families, a botched execution never fails to reinforce the argument for abolishing the death penalty altogether. 

William Kemmler
Convicted of the brutal murder of his common-law wife and sentenced to death, William Kemmler was to be the first person in the world executed by electric chair. On his execution day, August 6th 1890, Kemmler was described as amazingly calm even trying to put the executioner at ease. Before the switch was flipped to start the execution, the warden promised Kemmler 'this won't hurt, Bill' unfortunately he couldn't have been further from the truth. At first the electrocution appeared to be a complete success, Kemmler had taken a huge volt of electricity that made his whole body rigid and appeared to be dead after ten seconds. However, as his body was being checked over by a doctor a cut was noticed on Kemmler's hand. A cut that was bleeding profusely and therefore indicating the prisoner was still very much alive. In a panic, the warden ordered another volt of electricity be administered. Before the switch was thrown for a second time, a groaning William Kemmler began to regain consciousness. As well as groaning, Kemmler spluttered and coughed as fluid ran from his mouth and nose. After what must of seen like an age, the switch was once again flipped and Kemmler was eventually dead. However, the room soon filled with a huge billow of smoke and a sizzling sound. Witnesses testified the room smelled of cooking flesh and burnt hair, an indication that Kemmler had literally burned to death. 

Brian Steckl
If anyone deserved to die a brutal and painful death, few would argue against it for condemned prisoner Brian Steckl. He was convicted of the 1994 murder of 29-year-old Sandra Lee Long, who he set on fire after raping and sexually assaulting her with a screwdriver. Not only did Brian Steckl show little to no remorse for his crimes, he sent taunting letters to the victim's mother during his trial. This included a copy of Sandra Lee Long's autopsy report to which he had added 'Don't cry over burnt flesh, she is gone forever'. Steckl did admit accountability during his trial and urged the jury to punish him properly for his 'despicable' crimes. He was sentenced to death in January 1997. His execution, on November 4th 2005, was far from straight forward. After giving his last statement, the lethal injection began during which time witnesses said audible clicks from the computer in charge of administering the drugs could be heard. This carried on for a full 12 minutes following Steckl's last statement, during which time Brain Steckl remained lucid even making comments to his attending family members. It was deduced the main IV line was blocked and so the secondary line was used. However, for reasons unknown the sedative, the first in a three drug cocktail, was not administered and Steckl began convulsing. The last drug, the heart-stopping potassium chloride, was then administered killing Steckl in a pretty excruciating way. Doctors later said Steckl will have felt like his veins had been set on fire. Some may say this was an apt way for Brain Steckl to die given the way he chose to murder Sandra Lee Long. 

Jimmy Lee Gray
Jimmy Lee Gray was convicted of the kidnapping, rape and murder of three-year-old Deressa Seales in 1976. At the time Gray was out on parole following his conviction for murdering a 16-year old girl in Arizona. Unfortunately, despite the heinous nature of his crimes, Jimmy Lee Gray is remembered most because of the graphic nature of his eventual execution. When Gray's day of execution arrived in September 1983 he was the first person to be executed in Mississippi since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Jimmy Lee Gray was to be executed in the gas chamber. On the day in question Gray was sat in the 'death' chair in the chamber as cyanide crystals were dropped into a dish of distilled water and sulphuric acid. This creates the deadly gas. To the shock of the witnesses Jimmy Lee Gray, as the toxic gas reached his lungs, began to choke and gag. Furthermore, Gray began violently ramming his head against a vertical metal bar positioned directly behind the death chair. The warden allowed this gruesome spectacle to go on for eight minutes before deciding to clear the witness room. Nobody knows for sure how long Gray took to die but the prison reported he had actually died a painless death and was brain dead when he began ramming his skull against the metal post. Many questions were raised following Jimmy Lee Gray's execution, why was he head not restrained? why did he not fall unconscious but instead was allowed to choke for nearly ten minutes? The prison remained tight lipped, although it was revealed much later that the executioner had been drunk during the procedure. The same executioner had been very vocal about how he felt about Gray and his crimes, calling him a 'son of a bitch'. This attitude led some people to believe the executioner purposely botched the execution to ensure Jimmy Lee Gray died in the most painful way possible. 

These are just three cases I chose randomly, there have actually been many 'botched' executions during the life span of the death penalty in America. Of course, some people will argue there is no such thing as a 'botched' execution. The aim is to kill a convicted criminal, therefore it is merely a case of job done. However, this attitude would then make the system as barbaric as the criminals it is executing. Regardless of the brutality of their crimes, and all murder is brutal, the constitution states a condemned prisoner has the right to die in a humane way. 

So what is your opinion? Do you think 'botched' executions are just part of the process?, after all human error is a fact of life! Or do you believe the executions that go wrong just highlight every thing that is wrong with this antiquated form of 'punishment'?

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Is it Possible to Leave Death Row Alive

A death chamber gurney

According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) for every ten individuals who have been executed since 1976, one person has been set free. These, to me, are pretty shocking statistics and make me think how many innocent people have actually been wrongly executed. Below are several cases of people who have managed to be walk away from death row. 

McCollum and Brown
Leon Brown and Henry Lee McCollum 

These mentally-retarded half brothers were coerced into confessing to the murder and rape of an 11-year-old girl in 1983. Both received the death sentence, although Leon Brown later had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Henry Lee McCollum spent thirty years on death row before DNA evidence linked the murder to another man - who was in prison for a similar crime. In 2014, Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown were completely exonerated and released. Before it was found that McCollum was actually innocent, a Supreme Court judge referred to McCollum's 'crime' as the worse of the worse and the reason North Carolina still needed the death penalty. 

Anthony Graves

Anthony Graves

Anthony Graves was sentenced to death in 1994 for allegedly being an accomplice to the murders of Bobbie Davis, her daughter, Nicole and her four grandchildren. There was absolute no physical evidence found to tie Graves to the scene of the crime. In fact, his whole trial relied on the testimony of the 'other man', Robert Carter. In 2000, Carter - who had also been sentenced to death for the murders - confessed all before he was executed. He admitted he had lied about Anthony Graves' involvement. It took another six years before Graves would get a retrial when it was revealed prosecutors during the original trial had deliberately withheld evidence that was favourable to the defence. There was also evidence to show that the prosecution had used false testimony from witnesses. After 18-years in prison, 16 of which had been spent in solitrary confinement - Anthony Graves was released from prison. Today, he plays an active role in helping others potentially locked up for crimes they did not commit. He travels the country sharing his story, as well as serving on the advisory board of the TCADP. 

Randy Steidl

Randy Steidl

Convicted of the brutal murders of a newly-wed couple in 1986, Randy Steidl was sentenced to death. After spending 17-years in prison, 12 of those on death row, Steidl was exonerated of the crime and released. This was due to evidence of police misconduct and fabrication of evidence/testimony. A retrial revealed there was NO evidence to link Randy Steidl to the murders and his release was ordered. Randy Steidl has been an important voice in the movement to abolish the death penalty. He certainly played an important role in the effort to repeal the death penalty in Illionois in 2011. 

These are not all the cases, just the ones that stood out to me. Surely, the fact that there is a high number of exonerations is the sign of a flawed system. Spending any amount of time in prison when you are innocent is wrong, however there is no coming back for someone who is wrongfully executed. So what do you think? are you of the opinion that just one life lost to a 'mistake' is enough to abolish the death penalty? Or do you believe that, while mistakes will be made, it is necessary for the 'greater good'?