Death Penalty

Lethal injection room
Wikipedia Creative Commons

Doctors in North Carolina would no longer be required to oversee or participate in executions under a bill heading to Governor Pat McCrory's desk.

House lawmakers gave final approval to the measure Wednesday that allows physician assistants, nurse practitioners or paramedics to oversee executions.

Image of lethal injection table
Ken Piorkowski / Flickr Creative Commons

Legal challenges to the death penalty in North Carolina have effectively stayed any executions since 2006.

This week, lawmakers look to change that with a bill that would allow any medical professional, not just doctors, to administer a lethal injection.

Photo: The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / Public Doman

North Carolina prosecutors have sought the death penalty against about two people per year since 1989 without enough evidence to prove their guilt, according to the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.  The advocacy group opposes the death penalty and helped represent former death row inmate Henry McCollum, who was recently exonerated after 30 years in jail.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

State lawmakers passed nearly 100 bills in two days to meet this session's crossover deadline, the time when non-budgetary measures have to pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly to stay alive.  

Bills about the death penalty, education policy and environmental regulations are among those that still have legs.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia and WUNC education policy reporter Reema Khrais about the measures that survived or failed to meet the crossover deadline.

Same-sex married couple
Reema Khrais

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) awarded WUNC  with an impressive six Edward R. Murrow Awards on Thursday. The Murrow Awards honor outstanding achievement in electronic journalism. This is the fifth year in a row WUNC has received regional awards.

Six is the most Murrow Awards awarded by any large market radio station this year. WUNC led its market with awards for a large market radio station. The 2015 regional winners include: 

Breaking News

A picture of a syringe.
hitthatswitch / Flickr

Earlier this week, a judge in North Carolina determined the Craig Steven Hicks would be eligible for the death penalty for his role in the shootings of three students in Chapel Hill.  But the state of North Carolina has not put anyone to death since 2006.  The state is one of 34 in the country that allows the death penalty, but the practice here is rarely used.  That was not always the case.

Gun wall featuring rifles and assault riffles.
Michael Saechang - flickr.com/photos/saechang

Craig Stephen Hicks, the man accused of killing three young people in Chapel Hill this February, could face the death penalty. A Durham County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the prosecution brought forth enough incriminating evidence to make him eligible for a death sentence.

Execution chamber
Wikipedia

Stephen Lich Tyler drove to Texas last week to witness the execution of his father’s killer, Ramiro Hernandez Llanas. Before he left, he spoke on The State of Things about his struggles with the decision to attend and his expectations of the execution. He returned to the studio today to talk with host Frank Stasio about the experience and how it shaped his perspective on the death penalty.

Lethal injection room
Wikipedia Creative Commons

On Wednesday night, the State of Texas executed Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, a man convicted of the 1997 killing of professor Glen Lich.

Hernandez-Llanas was an immigrant hired to work on the Lich property when he lured Lich outside the home and beat him to death. He then returned to the house and attacked Lich's wife.

Lich was not Hernandez-Llanas's first murder victim. Hernandez-Llanas had escaped from Mexican prison where he was serving a 25-year sentence for murder.

Photo: The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / Public Doman

Prosecutors in Wake County are selecting a jury in a first-degree murder trial this week. It is the fifth case in North Carolina this year where a defendant could face capital punishment. But a series of lawsuits have blocked the death penalty for years in this state. And now, a little-known drug could become another obstacle.

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