capital punishment

November 10, 2021

Nurse receives death sentence for killing four patients

In Texas, a former nurse received a death sentence for killing four patients recovering from heart surgery by injecting air into their arteries, causing fatal brain damage.

During the trial’s sentencing phase, prosecutors said that William Davis harmed at least 22 patients by injecting air into their arterial lines or venous systems.

Prosecutors played a recording of a jailhouse phone conversation in which Davis tells his ex-wife that he didn’t mean to kill the patients; he had just wanted to prolong the ICU stays of the patients so he could work overtime.

“Even if that were true and that he somehow was trying to prolong their illness, for someone to do that — kill their patient and then try again,” said Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman. “You have to be the kind of person who has no empathy, who does not care for another person, who is unconcerned with their well being, who feels no guilt.”

Doctors at Christus Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler were baffled by what went wrong with the patients until they saw CT scans that showed air in their brains. During the trial, prosecutors showed security camera footage wherein Davis entered one of the patient’s rooms. Three minutes later, the patient’s heart monitor alarm went off, and he later died.

“There’s no way this could be accidental,” Putman said. “The evidence is overwhelming. The only conclusion you can come to is someone who would do something like this would have to be cold and callous and unfeeling. He has no love for anyone but himself. What he’s done to these families didn’t faze him at all.”


Texas Nurse Sentenced to Death for Fatally Injecting 4 Heart Patients With Air

November 1, 2021

Oklahoma death row inmate vomits and convulses during execution, sparking outrage

After horrified witnesses to Oklahoma’s first execution in six years described gruesome scenes of the dying inmate convulsing and vomiting during the lethal injections, the state is coming under severe scrutiny.

John Grant, 60, was pronounced dead on Thursday at McAlester State Penitentiary after being injected with doses of midazolam, vecuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. The Department of Corrections said the execution went “in accordance with protocols and without complication.”

However, accounts from eyewitnesses presented a very different version of events. Dan Snyder, an anchor of a local Oklahoma TV station Fox 25, said the process went awry immediately after the first drug was injected into Grant.

“Almost immediately after the drug was administered, Grant began convulsing, so much so that his entire upper back repeatedly lifted off the gurney,” Snyder reported. “As the convulsions continued, Grant then began to vomit. Multiple times over the course of the next few minutes medical staff entered the death chamber to wipe away and remove vomit from the still-breathing Grant.”

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said Grant’s violent reaction was extremely rare. “I’ve never heard of or seen that. That is notable and unusual.”

The botched execution marks another in a long line of such mistakes in Oklahoma. The state had paused its judicial killings since 2015 after a string of botched procedures caused alarm and forced authorities to review their use of lethal injections.


Outcry after Oklahoma prisoner vomits and convulses during execution

October 5, 2021

Missouri governor denies clemency to death row inmate, ignoring requests from lawmakers, pope

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson denied clemency for death row inmate Ernest Johnson, ignoring pleas for mercy from federal lawmakers, thousands of petition signers, and the pope.

Johnson was convicted of killing three convenience store employees during a 1994 robbery. His death by injection is scheduled for 6 pm on Tuesday.

Johnson’s attorney, Jeremy Weis, argued that his execution would violate the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits executing intellectually disabled people. Weis said multiple tests have shown that Johnson has the intellectual capacity of a child. He also was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and in 2008, he lost about 20 percent of his brain tissue to the removal of a benign tumor.

A representative of Pope Francis wrote Parson a letter last week, saying the pope “wishes to place before you the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sacredness of all human life.”

Courts reviewed Johnson’s case a few times. His second death sentence came in 2003 after the US Supreme Court found that executing the mentally ill was unconstitutionally cruel. Then, in 2006, the Missouri Supreme Court tossed out the previous death sentence and sentenced Johnson for a third time.

Weis on Monday requested a stay of execution from the US Supreme Court.


Missouri governor denies clemency to death row inmate

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