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After a week of searching through swampy, bug-swarming river bottoms, law officers hunting death row inmate Martin E. Gurule finally found their man Thursday--dead, beneath a bridge over the Trinity River near Huntsville, with tantalizing hints about how he'd made his way over the prison's two razor-wired security fences. The body of Gurule, 29, was swathed in cardboard and two sets of heavy underwear, according to officials.
April 8, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
It's hard to get executions right. This week, the Supreme Court denied appeals by Louisiana and Missouri death row inmates who argued that they were entitled to know the source of the drugs with which they are to be executed, and that denial of that information compromises their right to due process. It's unclear why the court refused to hear the cases, but the underlying argument remains potent. Another challenge is underway in Oklahoma, where two inmates are seeking stays of execution because state officials have revised protocols on the fly as the lethal drugs they usually use have become more difficult to obtain.
November 3, 2012
From afar, California in a presidential election year is defined by and largely written off because of its color: not golden but deep, Democratic blue. This perception, however, doesn't do justice to the contests taking place in the state. Over the last several months, readers have sent The Times hundreds of letters weighing the 11 initiatives on the Nov. 6 ballot. The discussion has been spirited, especially on Proposition 30 (Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase) and Proposition 34 (which would do away with the death penalty)
March 25, 2014 | By Corina Knoll and Francine Orr
The attorney who oversaw USC law students in their efforts to free 74-year-old Mary Virginia Jones, convicted for her role in a 1981 murder, after 32 years behind bars said the the win came after a difficult road. Jones walked out of Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood around 11 p.m. Monday after Judge William C. Ryan ordered her release  earlier in the day. USC Law School's Post-Conviction Justice Project argued that Jones' abusive boyfriend had forced her at gunpoint to help rob and shoot two drug dealers, one of whom died.
October 23, 2012
Re "Cruel isolation," Opinion, Oct. 18 Shane Bauer shines a rare light on solitary confinement in our prisons, a punishment that for those so incarcerated is truly a fate worse than death. Those who vote for Proposition 34 to end capital punishment, while absolving themselves of complicity in taking a human life, should realize that in many cases sitting on death row will be replaced by such torture. It is because execution is so disturbing that California has mandated extra assurance that the sentence is just, including expensive automatic appeals.
February 23, 2009
Thomas Francis Edwards died a week ago Saturday of natural causes at age 65. That may not sound strange until you consider that Edwards, the convicted killer of a 12-year-old Orange County girl, had been on death row for 22 years. That's right. Two decades later, the state of California still hadn't carried out a sentence imposed in the mid-1980s. And there's nothing unusual about that.
October 3, 2012
Re "300th prisoner freed by DNA testing," Oct. 1 The NFL's replacement referees blow a game-deciding call and it's decried as the unthinkable finally happening. The calamity is front-page news and even commands the attention of the White House. But the news that yet another person on death row has been freed based on DNA evidence, the 18th death row inmate and 300th overall, elicits barely a yawn and is buried inside The Times. The "bad calls" by prosecutors, judges, juries and appellate courts in each of these cases surely merit a little more attention and perhaps a little more analysis of how and why they were made.
May 5, 2011
Last year, California added 28 inmates to the state's death row, eight of whom were sentenced in Los Angeles County. They aren't in much danger of an early demise, however, thanks largely to legal delays, including a decision Tuesday by state officials not to pursue executions in 2011. The seemingly never-ending court battles mean that convicts in capital cases are far more likely to die of natural causes than by lethal injection. But that won't stop them from costing taxpayers an estimated three times more than other inmates.
March 10, 2011
The Supreme Court this week had good news for a Texas death row inmate: He can sue a district attorney who won't give him access to DNA evidence that might clear him. The 6-3 decision, which opens a new avenue of appeal for condemned prisoners, is welcome. But it falls short of what the court should do to make DNA evidence available to every prisoner who requests it. Henry Skinner was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and her two sons in 1993. He says he was in an alcoholic haze during the killings and that his girlfriend's uncle was probably the killer.
January 16, 2009 | Tiffany Hsu
After several tumultuous years of failed bids and aborted takeovers, notorious rap music label Death Row was plucked off the auction block once more, this time by a Canadian entertainment company that offered $18 million. Toronto-based WIDEawake Entertainment Group submitted the winning bid to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles against competitors Warner Music Group and Conquest Media Group.
March 19, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
A month from now, if all goes according to plan in Oklahoma, two convicted murderers will be executed by lethal injection, and without knowing exactly how the killing cocktail was put together or by whom. Without that knowledge, they could well be denied their basic constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The death penalty, as we've written before, is an indefensible mess of immorality, gamed judicial processes, misapplication based on race and class, and public expense.
March 11, 2014 | By Michael Muskal, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
Glenn Ford, one of the nation's longest-serving prisoners on death row, is scheduled to be freed from a Louisiana prison after he was exonerated of charges that he killed a man in 1983, his lawyers announced. A Louisiana court on Monday ordered that Ford, an African American who served 30 years on death row, be released after new information exonerated the former yard worker of killing a white man. Ford was expected to be released Tuesday. [Updated, 5:53 p.m.:  Ford walked free Tuesday afternoon.
March 5, 2014 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
HOUSTON - Anthony Graves survived 18 years in prison for murders he did not commit, a dozen of those years on death row, where he was twice scheduled for execution. On Wednesday, Graves stood defiant outside a courthouse in a blue pinstripe suit with several state lawmakers and announced that the State Bar of Texas would be investigating his complaint against the prosecutor who convicted him, Charles Sebesta. “Give us justice,” said Graves, 48, of Houston. The announcement was the latest salvo in a legal battle that the two men have been fighting for two decades.
March 1, 2014 | By Kevin Bronson
Not two hours after he performed his passion project in an 88-seat theater on a recent Sunday night, Ross Golan made the rounds at a Grammy after-party hosted by Daft Punk, smiling as Jay Z and Beyoncé glided by and making nice with Madonna and Skrillex and Pharrell Williams. Inhabiting either world would have been inconceivable five years ago to Golan, whose first rock band had failed, whose second was flailing and whose days were spent toiling in his condo. Which was in foreclosure.
February 28, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about a Florida man, Freddie Lee Hall, who faces execution for a 1978 murder. Hall is intellectually incapable of understanding the arguments, but the state of Florida says that it has the right to execute him nevertheless, in a case that spotlights both the barbarity and the absurdity of the death penalty. This page has a long history of opposing capital punishment on the grounds of morality, overwhelming evidence of its misapplication and public expense, among other things.
February 25, 2014 | By Marc J. Tassé
Shortly after his birth in 1945, Freddie Hall's family knew that something was different about him. And later, he was slow to learn, to walk and to talk, and it was challenging for his family to understand his speech. He was raised under difficult circumstances in an impoverished and abusive home, the 16th of 17 children, and showed early signs of serious intellectual and developmental delays. Hall's elementary school teachers also noticed his problems with learning and recommended a special education teacher, as shown in school records dating from the 1950s.
July 1, 2009 | TIM RUTTEN
When Tuesday's hearings in Sacramento on proposed changes in California's method of executing convicted murderers veered into a discussion of why solutions to the state's budget crisis ought to include the abolition of capital punishment, it was another example of how divided our attitude on this issue remains.
June 30, 2009 | Carol J. Williams
Nearly 3 1/2 years into a court-ordered suspension of executions, opponents have embraced a new argument: that Californians can't afford to carry out the death penalty in a constitutional manner.
February 24, 2014 | By Timothy M. Phelps
WASHINGTON - It's unusual for this Supreme Court to overturn a death penalty conviction, more so without dissents from conservatives Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. But Monday all nine justices found a double murder conviction so troubling that without hearing oral arguments they rebuked an Alabama appeals court and sent the case back to consider whether Anthony R. Hinton deserved a new trial. In three restaurant robberies in Birmingham 29 years ago, two restaurant managers were killed and one injured.
February 12, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - Three former California governors are set to announce their endorsement Thursday of a proposed initiative sponsors say would end lengthy death penalty appeals and speed up executions. Former governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis will announce at a news conference the launch of an initiative drive for signatures to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for the November ballot. The measure, if qualified, would ignite the second statewide debate on the death penalty in two years.
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