The executions of two inmates have been blocked by a US court, who ruled they must get the choice to die by firing squad.
The South Carolina supreme court halted the executions of Brad Sigmon and Freddie Owens, ruling that officials needed to put together a firing squad to give them the option of how to be killed.
Sigmon, 63, was scheduled to be executed using the electric chair on Friday, the first use of capital punishment in the state in a decade.
He was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend’s parents with a baseball bat in 2002.
Owen’s electric chair execution was set for 25 June, having been convicted of murdering a store worker during a robbery in 1999.
The state recently changed its capital punishment law to address a shortage of lethal injection drugs.
It now forces death row inmates to choose between electrocution or firing squad if the drugs are unavailable.
The law aimed to restart the state’s executions after a 10-year pause caused by its inability to produce the lethal injection.
Prisons officials had previously said they could not get hold of the drugs and had yet to put together a firing squad, leaving the 109-year-old electric chair as the only option.
“The department is moving ahead with creating policies and procedures for a firing squad,” said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Chrysti Shain after the court ruling.
“We are looking to other states for guidance through this process. We will notify the court when a firing squad becomes an option for executions.”
Lawyers for the men said electrocution was cruel and unusual and that the new law moves the state toward less humane execution methods.
They said the men had the right to die by lethal injection – the method both chose – and that the state hadn’t exhausted all methods to acquire the drugs.
Lawyers for the state maintained that prison officials were simply carrying out the law and that the US Supreme Court had never found electrocution to be unconstitutional.
South Carolina is one of eight states to still use the electric chair and four to allow a firing squad, according to the Washington-based non-profit Death Penalty Information Center.
South Carolina’s last execution took place in 2011 and its batch of lethal injection drugs expired two years later.
There are 37 men on the state’s death row.
Death penalty opponents called for South Carolina to scrap capital punishment altogether.
Abraham Bonowitz, director of the national group Death Penalty Action, said he was grateful the execution plans were blocked but felt a bigger change was needed.
“It’s always good news when executions are put on hold, but if the conversation is only about how we kill our prisoners, rather than if the state should have this power, something is very, very wrong,” he said.
“All of this is unnecessary and a costly waste of taxpayer dollars that could be better supporting the needs of all victims of violent crime.”
At a rally on Wednesday, people marked the anniversary of the electrocution of 14-year-old George Stinney, the youngest person executed in America in the 20th century.
Stinney was still a teenager when he was sent to South Carolina’s electric chair after a one-day trial in 1944 in connection with the killings of two white girls.
A judge threw out the black teenager’s conviction in 2014.
US death row inmate Anthony Sanchez executed for rape and murder of Juli Busken after being caught by his DNA
A man has been executed in the US for the rape and murder of a dance student which went unsolved for years until DNA from the crime scene was matched to him while he was in prison for burglary.
Anthony Sanchez, 44, protested his innocence as he was strapped down in the death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
He was declared dead 11 minutes after the lethal drugs started to be administered.
While Sanchez maintained he had nothing to do with the 1996 killing of 21-year-old Juli Busken, he took the unusual step of opting not to present a clemency application to the state’s pardon and parole board, which many viewed as the last chance to spare his life.
Ahead of his execution, Sanchez criticised his former lawyers and thanked his supporters, including his spiritual adviser who was in the chamber with him.
He said: “I’m innocent.
“I didn’t kill nobody.”
At one point during the procedure, a member of the execution team entered the chamber and reattached an oxygen monitor that prison officials said had malfunctioned.
Shortly before he was put to death, the US Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay of execution submitted by his new lawyer, who had said he needed more time to go through the case evidence.
Juli Busken’s family ‘has found closure and peace’
Ms Busken had just completed her last term at the University of Oklahoma when she was abducted on 20 December 1996, from the car park of her apartment complex.
Her body was found later near a lake on the outskirts of Oklahoma City.
She had been bound, raped and shot in the head.
Busken had performed as a ballerina in several dance performances during her time at the university and a scholarship was set up in her name at the College of Fine Arts.
Years later, Sanchez was in jail for burglary when DNA from the victim’s clothing was matched to him.
He was convicted and sentenced to die in 2006.
None of Ms Busken’s family attended Thursday’s execution, but state attorney general Gentner Drummond said he had spoken to them several times in recent months.
He said: “Juli was murdered 26 years, nine months and one day ago. The family has found closure and peace.”
Sanchez had long maintained his innocence.
In an interview earlier this year from death row. “That is fabricated DNA.
“That is false DNA. That is not my DNA. I’ve been saying that since day one.”
He said he had declined to seek clemency because even when the five-member pardon and parole board takes the rare step of recommending it, governor Kevin Stitt was unlikely to grant it.
Sanchez said: “I’ve sat in my cell and I’ve watched inmate after inmate after inmate get clemency and get denied clemency. Either way, it doesn’t go well for the inmates.”
Mr Drummond maintained the DNA evidence unequivocally linked Sanchez to Ms Busken’s killing.
He said the odds of randomly selecting an individual with the same genetic profile were one in 94 trillion.
‘Brutal rapist and murderer’
“There is no conceivable doubt that Anthony Sanchez is a brutal rapist and murderer who is deserving of the state’s harshest punishment,” Mr Drummond said in a recent statement.
A private investigator hired by an anti-death penalty group argued the DNA evidence may have been contaminated.
But former Cleveland county district attorney Tim Kuykendall, who was the county’s top prosecutor when Sanchez was tried, has said while the DNA evidence was the most compelling at trial, there was other evidence linking him to the killing, including ballistic evidence and a shoe print found at the crime scene.
Mr Kuykendall said recently: “I know from spending a lot of time on that case, there is not one piece of evidence that pointed to anyone other than Anthony Sanchez.
“I don’t care if a hundred people or a thousand people confess to killing Juli Busken.”
Sanchez is the third inmate put to death in Oklahoma this year and the tenth since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 2021 ending a six-year moratorium introduced over concerns about its execution methods.
Angus Cloud: Euphoria star’s cause of death revealed as accidental overdose
Euphoria actor Angus Cloud died from an accidental overdose from a lethal combination of drugs, a California coroner’s report has found.
The 25-year-old was found unresponsive at his family home in Oakland in July.
Cloud died of a lethal mix of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine and benzodiazepines, the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau confirmed to Sky News’ partner network NBC News.
Following his death, Cloud’s mother said on social media that she believed her son “did not intend to end his life,” and said he had been talking about his plans for himself and his family in the hours before he died.
His family also spoke about his battles with mental health, saying, “we hope that his passing can be a reminder to others that they are not alone and should not fight this on their own in silence”.
The actor had been mourning the death of his own father from mesothelioma (a type of cancer) and had travelled to Ireland to bury him the week before his death.
Cloud was best known for playing the drug dealer Fezco opposite Zendaya on hit teen drama show Euphoria.
He was working in a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, when he was scouted for his first acting role by Euphoria’s casting director.
Following his death, Euphoria creator Sam Levinson said: “There was no one quite like Angus. He was too special, too talented and way too young to leave us so soon. He also struggled, like many of us, with addiction and depression.
“I hope he knew how many hearts he touched. I loved him. I always will. Rest in peace and God Bless his family.”
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.
Missing toddler found asleep in woods with one family dog ‘as a pillow’ while the other ‘kept her safe’
A missing two-year-old girl who got lost in the woods near her home was found asleep on one of her two family dogs like a furry pillow – while the other “kept her safe”.
Her disappearance sparked a major hunt, with drones and police dogs joining police and local residents to search the remote wooded area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in the US.
She had walked away from her house with two family dogs before being found with both of them, state police said.
“She laid down and used one of the dogs as a pillow, and the other dog laid right next to her and kept her safe,” lieutenant Mark Giannunzio said.
“It’s a really remarkable story.”
Police were called at around 8pm on Wednesday. A local who had joined the search found the girl around midnight, about three miles from her home.
Mr Giannunzio said the girl was checked by medical staff and appeared to be in good health.
Sports11 months ago
‘Storybook stuff’: Inside the night Bryce Harper sent the Phillies to the World Series
Environment4 months ago
Japan and South Korea have a lot at stake in a free and open South China Sea
Sports2 years ago
Team Europe easily wins 4th straight Laver Cup
Technology2 years ago
Game consoles were once banned in China. Now Chinese developers want a slice of the $49 billion pie
Sports6 months ago
MLB Rank 2023: Ranking baseball’s top 100 players
Environment7 months ago
Game-changing Lectric XPedition launched as affordable electric cargo bike
Politics2 years ago
Have the last few wobbly weeks seen a turning point for Johnson as PM?
Business12 months ago
Bank of England’s extraordinary response to government policy is almost unthinkable | Ed Conway