KENTUCKY JOINS STATES WITH NO EXECUTIONS FOR AT LEAST TEN YEARS
November 29, 2018:
On November 21, 2018, Kentucky marked 10 years since its last execution, becoming the eleventh current death-penalty state that has not carried out an execution in more than a decade. (Source: DPIC, WHAS-TV, Louisville Courier Journal, WKYT-TV, 21/11/2018)
Another 20 states have legislatively or judicially abolished their death-penalty laws, bringing the number of states that do not actively use the death penalty to 31.
On the day before Kentucky reached its 10-year milestone, a lawsuit filed in federal court highlighted some of the greatest dangers of capital punishment in the Commonwealth.
On November 20, Nickie Miller—a military veteran and cancer patient who spent two years in jail facing a possible death sentence before murder charges against him were dropped in 2017—filed a lawsuit against Montgomery County, Kentucky and local and state law enforcement officials alleging that they had conspired to frame him for murder. Police charged Natasha Martin and Nickie Miller with the 2011 murder of Paul Brewer. Brewer was robbed and killed at his Montgomery County home. Miller’s complaint names six people involved in his investigation and prosecution as defendants: Montgomery County Sheriff Fred Shortridge, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Keith Craycraft, Detectives Ralph Charles Jr. and Mark Collier, county jailer Eric Jones, and Kentucky State Police Polygraph Examiner John Fyffe. The complaint alleges that the defendants fabricated and destroyed evidence, testified falsely, and coerced a woman into falsely implicating Miller by threatening to take her children unless she provided the statement they wanted. It specifically claims that Fyffe and the sheriff’s officers “conspired to take Miller’s liberty by knowingly initiating false charges based on evidence that the Defendants fabricated.” According to the complaint, the alleged misconduct “had a profound impact” on Miller’s health, denying him “proper medical treatment for his cancer, including chemotherapy, while incarcerated.”
Kentucky has imposed 97 death sentences since reinstating the death penalty in 1975. More than half (49) of those convictions or sentences have been overturned, including the conviction of Larry Osborne, who was exonerated in 2002.
Two of the three men executed in Kentucky waived some or all of their appeals.
Executions in Kentucky have been under a judicial hold since 2010, as a result of challenges to the lethal-injection protocol.
The Attorney General’s Office is scheduled to file its brief in the lethal-injection case on November 30, but additional hearings and briefing are expected before the court issues a ruling in the case.