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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Nevada Man Released from Death Row After Evidence Reveals Innocence of 1988 Murder

Ha’im Al Matin Sharif (AKA Charles Robins)
A Nevada man was released from death row last week after nearly 29 years in prison for a murder evidence now shows he did not commit.

Ha’im Al Matin Sharif (AKA Charles Robins) was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to death for the murder of his girlfriend’s 11-month-old baby girl. 

A medical examiner testified the child had been physically abused and ultimately murdered. The child’s mother testified that Sharif physically abused the child.

Sharif filed many appeals and in 2011, the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the District of Arizona began a review of his case. 

Attorney Cary Sandman noticed that the child’s injuries were consistent with Barlow’s disease (infantile scurvy). 

Medical experts reviewed the evidence and agreed. Sandman also discovered some of the child’s injuries occurred before Sharif was living with the child’s mother.

Sandman then interviewed the child’s mother, who said her testimony was false and she had never seen Sharif abuse the child. She later recanted her testimony, saying she agreed to lie in court after police threatened to take away her surviving children.

After an evidentiary hearing and a statement from another doctor agreeing the baby died from Barlow’s disease, prosecutors began negotiations for a deal. 

In the end, Sharif agreed to an amended conviction of second-degree murder and a reduction of his sentence to time served. Had he chosen to go back to trial, he could face more years of incarceration and possibly another death sentence.

Sharif told the Arizona Republic that he is looking forward to building a future for himself in Washington state, where he will move in with relatives.

“I have a level of optimism,” he said. “But I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Read the Arizona Republic article here.

Source: Innocence Project, June 15, 2017

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