I was 20 when I was sentenced to death. My life had been on a one-way path to self-destruction for years. I don’t remember too much about my early life, but I think I had a happy childhood, growing up in Philadelphia in a loving family with five siblings. But at age seven I was attacked by a teenage boy from the neighbourhood. He hit me over the head and raped me, leaving me with what I now know is brain damage. I began a downward spiral as a teen, and my parents blamed themselves. I was out of control and became involved in petty crime and drugs. The chaos came to a climax when I stole a car while high. When I got pulled over by the police, we got into a scuffle. The officer pulled out his gun and somehow it discharged. Later, he made up a story and said I tried to kidnap and murder him. It was a stupid thing to do – I realised that as I awaited trial, looking at life in prison. But as I sat alone in the cell, I did something even more stupid. I was given a newspaper and … [Read more...] about What it’s really like to live on death row when you’re an innocent man
Man on death row
AFTER 33 years on death row, the curious case of Kevin Cooper has hit the headlines once again. Who is the inmate convicted of murder, what is he alleged to have done and how long has he been on death row? Here's what we know. Who is Kevin Cooper and what did he do? Born in 1958, Kevin Cooper is a death row inmate currently held in California's San Quentin prison. He was convicted on several burglary offences between 1977 and 1982. In late 1982, Cooper fled to California after escaping from a Pennsylvania psychiatric facility and was subsequently convicted of two burglaries in the Los Angeles area. He began serving a four-year sentence under the alias David Trautman at the California Institution for Men (CIM) in Chino on April 29, 1983, where he was assigned to the minimum security section. On June 2, 1983, Cooper climbed through a hole in the prison fence and walked away from the prison across an open field. Two days later, four people were murdered in a … [Read more...] about What did Kevin Cooper do, how many murders was he convicted of and how long has he been on death row?
A Japanese man who was freed in 2014 after spending 45 years on death row could be sent back to prison after a court overturned the decision to grant him a retrial. Iwao Hakamada was sentenced to hang in 1968 for the murders two years earlier of a company president, his wife and their two children in Shizuoka prefecture, central Japan. A district court in Shizuoka freed him in 2014 and ordered a retrial, saying police may have fabricated evidence, but the Tokyo high court on Monday ruled against it. It said the lower court had overstated the value of DNA evidence that cast doubt on the safety of his conviction, and that there were insufficient grounds to suspect that police had forged evidence. Hakamada, an 82-year-old former professional boxer, told reporters from his home in Shizuoka that his conviction had always been unsafe. “It is all lies,” he said, according to Kyodo news. His 85-year-old sister, Hideko, who has campaigned to prove her brother’s innocence, said … [Read more...] about Japan: man freed after 45 years on death row could go back to jail
A British national held on death row in Ethiopia for four years has been released. Ethiopia-born Andargachew Tsege, also known as Andy, was accused by the Ethiopian authorities of being a terrorist and was tried with others in his absence in 2009 before being sentenced to death. The father-of-three, who fled Ethiopia in the 1970s and sought asylum in the UK in 1979, had been a prominent critic of the country's ruling party. Read more British man freed after arrest in Dubai for having 'too many pills' In June 2014 Mr Tsege, who is in his 60s, was kidnapped in Yemen and rendered to the African country, where he has since been held in prison. The Foreign Secretary said: "I am pleased Andargachew Tsege is now able to reunite with his loved ones after being separated from them for so long. "His case has been a priority for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and our staff have worked tirelessly to support him and his family throughout his detention." He added: "Recent moves by the … [Read more...] about British man held on death row in Ethiopia for four years released
A 68-year-old man has been released from prison after serving nearly 25 years on death row. Vicente Benavides was released from San Quentin State Prison on Thursday, after the California Supreme Court overturned his conviction for murder and rape. Local prosecutors said they would not re-try the case. Leaving the prison on Thursday, Mr Benavides told reporters he was “very happy”. Read more Execution abandoned after death row prisoner 'repeatedly jabbed' The California native was convicted in 1993 of the rape and murder of his girlfriend’s nearly two-year-old daughter, Consuelo Verdugo. According to a previous court decision, he told police that he had been babysitting the girl while her mother was at work, and that he briefly lost track of her. He found her outside, vomiting, and took her to the emergency room. She died a week later. A forensic pathologist said at the time that the girl had died of anal injuries from being sodomised. Several doctors testified … [Read more...] about California man released from prison after serving 25 years on death row