A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof

“What are you?” a member of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston asked at the trial of the white man who killed eight of her fellow black parishioners and their pastor. “What kind of subhuman miscreant could commit such evil?... What happened to you, Dylann?”
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah spent months in South Carolina searching for an answer to those questions—speaking with Roof’s mother, father, friends, former teachers, and victims’ family members, all in an effort to unlock what went into creating one of the coldest killers of our time.
Sitting beside the church, drinking from a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, he thought he had to go in and shoot them.
They were a small prayer group—a rising-star preacher, an elderly minister, eight women, one young man, and a little girl. But to him, they were a problem. He believed that, as black Americans, they were raping “our women and are taking over our country.” So he took out his Glock handgun and calmly, while their eyes were closed in prayer, ope…

Missouri governor stays execution of Marcellus Williams after attorneys say DNA evidence exonerates him

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) on Tuesday stayed the scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams, just hours before the death-row inmate was set to be put to death for the 1998 killing of a former newspaper reporter.
Williams’s execution prompted scrutiny and a last-ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court from his attorneys, who pointed to new DNA evidence in arguing that Missouri may have been on the verge of executing the wrong person.
Greitens said he would appoint a board to look into the new DNA evidence and other factors before issuing a report about whether or not Williams should be granted clemency.
Williams, 48, was convicted in 2001 of brutally killing Felicia “Lisha” Gayle, who had been a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Gayle was in her home when she was stabbed 43 times with a butcher knife, according to court records.
Williams was scheduled to be executed in 2015 for the high-profile killing, but the state Supreme Court stayed his lethal injection, allowing him …

Missouri prepares for 2nd execution of 2017; requests to halt it still pending

Unless the last-minute requests for a reprieve are granted, a Missouri death-row inmate will be put to death Tuesday evening.
Marcellus Williams, 48, was convicted in the 1998 fatal stabbing of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle at her University City home. In 2003, the state Supreme Court upheld Williams' conviction, saying there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's conclusion.
His initial execution date was set for January 2015, but the state Supreme Court postponed it for DNA testing.
Those tests were submitted to the court again last week as part of a request for a stay of execution. One of Williams' attorney, Kent Gipson, said it showed the DNA on the murder weapon wasn't from Williams. But the court rejected the request; the U.S. Supreme Court hadn't weighed in as of 6 a.m. Tuesday.
At the same time, the Midwest Innocence Project, which seeks to overturn wrongful convictions, has asked Republican Gov. Eric Greitens to step in and …

Texas court halts execution of convicted child killer who claims intellectual disability

A man convicted in the sexual assault and murder of an 11-year-old girl was set to die next Wednesday. But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped his execution amid claims of intellectual disability.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday halted the execution of a convicted child murderer who claims he's intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the state's harshest punishment.
Steven Long, 46, was set to die next Wednesday for the 2005 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in Dallas County. Courts had previously rejected his appeals claiming intellectual disability, but that was before the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Texas' methods for determining intellectual disability for death-sentenced people in March.
With that ruling in mind, Long's lawyer, Thomas Scott Smith, again asked the courts to stay Long's execution earlier this month, presenting evidence that Long's IQ score has regularly been placed in the low 60s. His request was g…

Maldives to restore death penalty after 60-year moratorium

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Despite international pressure the Maldives will reintroduce the death penalty after a 60-year moratorium to try and reduce the rising number of murders and stop drug trafficking, a senior advisor to President Abdulla Yameen said on Tuesday.
The United Nations and Amnesty International have urged the government not to reintroduce the death penalty by hanging, citing concerns whether some inmates facing the death penalty had had fair trials.
"It is to be used as a deterrent," Mohamed Hussain Shareef, a senior advisor to Yameen and head of foreign relations of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) told Reuters in an interview in Colombo.
"At the moment, overwhelmingly the people of Maldives are in support for implementation. It is a difficult decision for any government. But as a government, you have to safeguard the lives of innocent people."
He said there had been more than 50 murders reported in Maldives during the last decade.
The Un…

Manila: Human rights body wants review of all cases of suspects killed in drug ops

The Commission on Human Rights on Monday called for a review of all cases where drug suspects ended up dead for supposedly resisting arrest.
“We now call for a solid investigation, no whitewashing of this as much as we are also calling for a review of every single case of ‘nanlaban,'” CHR Commissioner Chito Gascon told ABS-CBN News.
Nanlaban is the Filipino word for “fight back.”
The call comes amid public outrage at the death of 11th grader Kian Delos Santos, who was killed Wednesday in an alleged shootout with law enforcers during the bloodiest week of the government’s anti-narcotics drive.
According to ABS-CBN police data shows that a total of 3,451 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to July 26, 2017. Police have maintained that the suspects resisted arrest and that operatives only exercised self-defense.
The self-defense argument could only be invoked when a case is brought before the court, not in the preliminary investigation, Gascon sa…

Trial of Stockholm academic facing death penalty in Iran begins

The trial of a Stockholm academic who is detained in Iran on what Amnesty International calls 'extremely vague grounds' and could face the death penalty is set to get under way.
Researcher Ahmadreza Djalali has been detained since last April. He was arrested in Tehran for espionage and 'enmity with God' – a crime which in Iran can result in the death penalty – during a visit for a conference last year.
An Iranian citizen, the academic has a permanent residence permit in Sweden, where he conducted research in disaster medicine at the prestigious Karolinska Institute, and lived with his wife and two children. He previously worked at the University of Eastern piedmont in Italy, and the Italian government expressed "extreme concern" for his safety in February.
Human rights organization Amnesty International has urged the authorities to release Djalali or give him a fair and secure trial.
“We hope he will be released. He has been in prison since April last year on…

Indonesia: Woman convicted of blasphemy sentenced to 2 1/2 years behind bars

Siti Aisyah, the owner of an Islamic learning center, has been sentenced to two years and six months in prison for spreading "misguided" Islamic teachings.
Siti was found guilty of violating Article 156 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on blasphemy.
The sentence handed down by the Mataram District Court in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) is lighter than the prosecutor's demand of three years’ imprisonment.
Presiding judge Didiek Jatmiko said Siti had been proven guilty of spreading teachings that contravened Islamic principles, reported.
Didiek said Siti did not admit her fault, insisting that what she taught did not go against the principles of Islam.
Siti, who is the owner Rumah Mengenal Al-Quran (Home to learn Quran), had reportedly taught her followers that the Quran did not oblige Muslims to pray. 
She also reportedly rejected Al-Hadist (Prophet Muhammad's words and attitudes) as a religious guideline.
Source:Jakarta Post, August 21, 2017

Indonesian housewife sen…

Midwest Innocence Project asks Missouri governor to halt Tuesday's execution

A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday's scheduled execution on hold.
The Midwest Innocence Project says new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn't kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.
Williams' attorney, Kent Gipson, asked the state Supreme Court last week to consider two new tests, which he said show that Williams' DNA was not on the knife used in Gayle's death. The court denied the request for a stay of execution.
Midwest Innocence Project Director Tricia Bushnell told St. Louis Public Radio on Sunday that the organization wants Greitens to appoint a board of inquiry to look into the new evidence.
"This is a case that has so many questions in it, and the reality is, Mr. Williams has DNA evidence that says it is not him on the murder weapon, and no one has even let him have a hearing on those results," she said. "It seems i…

Johnson & Johnson unit speaks out at planned death row drug use

Group says it does not condone use of its drugs in lethal injection as Florida eyes move
Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest healthcare company, has hit out at plans by the US state of Florida to execute a prisoner on death row using an experimental lethal injection containing a drug it invented.
Janssen, a division of J&J, discovered etomidate in the 1960s but no longer makes the off-patent medicine, which is manufactured by several drugmakers.
“We do not condone the use of our medicines in lethal injections for capital punishment,” Janssen said in a statement.
It added: “Janssen discovers and develops medical innovations to save and enhance lives. We do not support the use of our medicines for indications that have not been approved by regulatory authorities, such as the US [Food and Drug Administration].”
It is the first time that a drug connected to J&J has been used in a lethal injection and, as such, the company has not spoken out on the topic before.
Florida has …