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Il governatore del Kentucky Matt Bevin
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin
KENTUCKY (USA): BEFORE LEAVING OFFICE, GOVERNOR MATT BEVIN COMMUTES THE SENTENCES OF TWO DEATH-ROW PRISONERS

December 17, 2019:

In his last series of acts before leaving office, outgoing Governor Matt Bevin has commuted the sentences of two of the state’s longest serving death-row prisoners to life with the possibility of parole.
On Friday, December 6, 2019, Bevin commuted the death sentence of Gregory Wilson, 62, Black, whose trial proceedings had been described as a travesty of justice.
Then on Monday, December 9 — the governor’s last day in office — he commuted Leif Halvorsen’s death sentence in response to a remarkable story of redemption. Because of the age of the cases, both men became eligible for parole. Wilson was convicted in 1988 in the 29 May 1987 rape and murder of Deborah Pooley. A federal judge has described his trial as “one of the worst examples I have ever seen of the unfairness and abysmal lawyering that pervade capital trials.” The court took more than a year to locate counsel to handle the case, after most of the lawyers in Northern Kentucky refused to work for the then-maximum state capital-representation fee of $2,500. Eventually, two lawyers agreed to take the case after the judge put a note on his courthouse door, saying: “PLEASE HELP. DESPERATE. THIS CASE CANNOT BE CONTINUED AGAIN.” One of the lawyers, John Foote, had never tried a felony case. The second, William Hagedorn, volunteered to be lead counsel for free. A semi-retired lawyer, Hagedorn had no office, no staff, no copy machine, and no law books, and listed the phone number of a local bar as his office number. The lawyers failed to interview and subpoena witnesses, investigate evidence collected by police, or contact family members who would have testified on behalf of sparing Wilson’s life. They presented no defense to the murder charges and no mitigating evidence in the penalty-phase of trial. To compound matters, Wilson’s co-defendant, Brenda Humphrey — a former prostitute who testified against him — was having a sexual relationship with another judge in the circuit during the time of the trial. Humphrey, Wilson’s clemency petition pointed out, had “confessed to her sister that she, Brenda, was the one who killed the victim by slitting her throat.” Humphrey — who is white — was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Wilson — who is black —was sentenced to die. Bevin’s statement accompanying the commutation said that “Justice should be served on all sides. It was not.” The fact that the “actual admitted killer is now out of prison and Mr. Wilson is on death row would indicate that Mr. Wilson got the short end of the justice stick,” Bevin said. Wilson had been involved in a “brutal murder,” the Governor wrote, but “to say his legal defense was inadequate would be the understatement of the year.” Wilson’s current lawyer, retired Chief Louisville Metro Public Defender Dan Goyette, praised Bevin for his “courage and sense of justice.” “At long last,” Goyette said, “a shameful travesty of justice has finally been remedied.”
Bevin commuted Halvorsen’s sentence in the waning hours of his service as governor, after reviewing a clemency petition detailing what Halvorsen’s lawyer, David M. Barron, described as a “unique and inspiring story of redemption.” The petition described how, in his 36 years on Kentucky’s death row, Halvorsen went from being a drug addict to a college graduate, completing two college degrees. The petition said that during that time, Halvorsen had raised money for underprivileged children, mentored at-risk youth, and was the only death-row prisoner the warden trusted to be part of a panel of prisoners who spoke with troubled students. Corrections personnel also credited Halvorsen with restoring calm in the prison, likely preventing attacks on corrections personnel and other prisoners. Several of the students to whom Halvorsen had spoken wrote letters in support of his petition. One wrote: “Listening to your story made me realize that if I don’t change something about my life, I could end up somewhere close to where you are now.” Halvorsen had previously written in a magazine story, “my years in prison have been spent reclaiming my life from the ashes of its ruins.” Granting the commutation, Gov. Bevin said, “Leif has a powerful voice that needs to be heard by more people.” Bevin texted Barron at 10:02 p.m., just under two hours before his term expired, to inform him of the commutation. “I’m very pleased and grateful that the governor has recognized Leif Halvorsen’s nearly four decades of efforts to demonstrate remorse, build reconciliation and attempt to use his life situation and story to save other lives and turn other lives around,” Barron said. Halvorsen, now 65, White, was sentenced to death on 5 September 1983 for killing 3 people (Jacqueline Greene, Joe Norman and Joey Durham) during a robbery on 13 January 1983.

(Sources: Lousiville Courier Journal, Lexington Herald Leader, 09/12/2019)

VIETNAM: 6 MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR RAPING, KILLING STUDENT
CHINA: DEATH SENTENCE UPHELD FOR SHANGHAI MAN FOR KILLING STUDENTS
CHINA: DEATH PENALTY UPHELD FOR GANG LEADER IN RAPE CASES
INDIA: 102 DEATH SENTENCES IN 2019
PAKISTAN: DEATH SENTENCE COMMUTED IN BROTHER-IN-LAW’S MURDER CASE
SUDAN: 27 INTELLIGENCE AGENTS SENTENCED TO HANG FOR TEACHER'S KILLING
SAUDI ARABIA: RIYADH CONCERT STABBER SENTENCED TO DEATH
CHINA: ARSONIST EXECUTED OVER FATAL FIRE IN GUANGDONG
BELARUS: LUKASHENKO ON PROSPECTS FOR ABOLISHING DEATH PENALTY
JAPAN: CHINESE MAN HANGED OVER MURDER OF FAMILY OF FOUR
SAUDI ARABIA: FIVE SENTENCED TO DEATH OVER JAMAL KHASHOGGI'S MURDER
PAKISTAN: PROFESSOR SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR BLASPHEMY
ENDED IN OPERA PRISON IN MILAN THE VIII CONGRESS OF ‘HANDS OFF CAIN-SPES CONTRA SPEM’
BELARUS: MAN EXECUTED FOR THE MURDER OF TWO WOMEN
YEMEN: HOUTHI-CONTROLLED COURT SENTENCES 4 TO DEATH FOR ALLEGEDLY SPYING FOR SAUDI ARABIA
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: 5 MEN SENTENCED TO HANG FOR MURDER
PRISON. HANDS OFF CAIN IN CONGRESS IN OPERA IN MILAN
VIII HANDS OFF CAIN CONGRESS - PROGRAM PROPOSAL AND ORDER OF WORKS
PAKISTAN: EX PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF SENTENCED TO DEATH BY SPECIAL COURT FOR HIGH TREASON
PAKISTAN: MAN HANDED 3 DEATH SENTENCES IN CHUNIAN RAPE, MURDER CASE
ZAMBIA: WITCH DOCTOR SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR MURDERING CLIENT
SRI LANKA: DEATH SENTENCE FOR HEROIN PEDDLER
IRAN: WOMAN HANGED WITH HER HUSBAND IN THE PRISON OF MASHHAD
JAPAN: EX-POLICEMAN SENTENCED TO DEATH OVER 2017 MURDER OF WIFE, 2 KIDS
JORDAN: 15 PEOPLE EXECUTED INCLUDING 10 FOR TERRORISM CONVICTIONS
EGYPT: SYMPOSIUM ON THE DEATH PENALTY
SRI LANKA: TWO FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER SENTENCED TO DEATH
SRI LANKA: DRUG TRAFFICKER KALU THUSHARA SENTENCED TO DEATH
TEXAS (USA): TRAVIS TREVINO RUNNELS EXECUTED
MALAYSIA: APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE OF BUSINESSMAN FOR MURDER

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