TIME Death Penalty

Georgia Convict First to Be Executed After Botched Oklahoma Lethal Injection

Death row inmate Marcus Wellons is seen in an undated picture from the Georgia Department of Corrections
Death row inmate Marcus Wellons is seen in an undated handout from the Georgia Department of Corrections. Reuters

Convicts in Florida, Georgia and Missouri were set to die within a 24 hour period for the first time since the botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month

Updated on 06/18/2014 at 12.01 a.m.

(JACKSON, Ga.) — A Georgia inmate became the 1st executed convict in the U.S. since an execution-gone-awry in Oklahoma led to a defacto national moratorium on the practice seven weeks ago. The state used one drug in the execution.

A group of convicts were set to be put to death in three state over the next 24 hours.

With Georgia’s inmate executed, the other convicted killers set to die by lethal injection are from Florida and Missouri.

The states had all refuse to reveal the source of their the drug cocktail to be used in the executions or if those drugs have ben tested. Lawyers for two of the men have challenged the secrecy surrounding the drugs.

States with the death penalty have long grappled with how to continue executing prisoners in a humane way. After the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in late May, human rights activists have upped the urgency of their call to force states to release information about the drugs used to kill prisoners.

In Georgia Tuesday night, Marcus Wellons was scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. ET for raping and murdering his 15-year-old neighbor in 1989. However, two hours later, the Associated Press reported that “officials were waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on an appeal.”

Just after midnight CT, John Winfield, who shot three women in the head in 1996 killing two and blinding the third, is scheduled to be executed in Missouri.

Finally, John Ruthell Henry is set to die at 6:00 p.m. ET in Florida on Wednesday. Henry was convicted of stabbing his estranged wife to death just before Christmas, 1985, then murdering her five-year-old son from a previous marriage days later. Testing has shown that Henry has an IQ of 78, the AP reported. The state says that anyone with an IQ over 70 does not qualify as mentally disabled.

[AP]

 

 

TIME justice

First Openly Gay Black Male Federal Judge Confirmed

The Obama appointee was approved unanimously by the Senate

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed the first openly gay black man to the federal bench.

Judge Darrin P. Gayles will serve the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, a famously busy jurisdiction, Reuters reports.

President Barack Obama appointed Gayles, a native of Peoria, Ill., to the federal bench after another openly gay black nominee was rejected last year due largely to the opposition of Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who said he had concerns about the judge’s sentences in a murder and drinking-and-driving case.

The Senate also confirmed the federal bench’s second openly gay black woman, Judge Staci Michelle Yandle.

[Reuters]

TIME Disease

Concerns of U.S. Mosquito-Borne Disease Outbreak Heightened

Health officials are concerned it's just a matter of time before the illness spreads within the U.S.

+ READ ARTICLE

Cases of Chikungunya, a debilitating mosquito-borne disease, have now been reported in Tennessee and North Carolina, leading to increased concerns of a potential outbreak in the U.S.

As we reported earlier this month:

The Florida Department of Health announced 24 confirmed cases of dengue fever as of last week, and 18 confirmed cases of chikungunya, both viruses that do not have vaccines to prevent them and have not typically been found in North America, the CDC says.

All Floridians infected had traveled to the Caribbean or South America, and officials believe they may have contracted the diseases there, but epidemiologists worry that Florida mosquitos may be spreading the illnesses, which could lead to a potential outbreak, Reuters reports.

 

TIME justice

Court: Warrantless Cell Location Tracking Is Unconstitutional

A federal appeals court has for the first time said law enforcement can’t snoop on phone location records without a warrant

A federal appeals court has for the first time ruled that law enforcement must have a warrant in order to track a person’s location data from nearby cell phone towers.

“There is a reasonable privacy interest in being near the home of a lover, or a dispensary of medication, or a place of worship, or a house of ill repute,” the three judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in a unanimous opinion Wednesday. “That information obtained by an invasion of privacy may not be entirely precise does not change the calculus as to whether obtaining it was in fact an invasion of privacy.”

The ruling is a landmark victory for privacy activists.

“This opinion puts police on notice that when they want to enlist people’s cell phones as tracking devices, they must get a warrant from a judge based on probable cause,” said American Civil Liberties Union Staff Attorney Nathan Freed Wessler. “The court soundly repudiates the government’s argument that by merely using cell a phone, people somehow surrender their privacy rights.”

The case was originally brought in Miami by Quartavious Davis, who is serving more than 160 years in prison for several violent armed robberies. Davis appealed after phone location data was used as evidence in his case, but a judge declined to vacate his sentence, finding that the police acted in “good faith” in their investigation.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet issued a ruling on the question of law enforcement access to suspect cell phone location data. However, in a 2012 opinion — upon which the 11th Circuit judges based their opinion delivered Wednesday — the court found that using a GPS tracking device to follow a suspect’s location does constitute a search and thus Fourth Amendment considerations apply.

MONEY Housing Market

WATCH: Cities with the Most Underwater Homes

In some cities, a huge number of homes are worth less than what their owners owe on their mortgage. See where the market is hardest hit — and how first-time homebuyers are suffering.

TIME States

Dengue Fever Infections in Florida Make Health Experts Wary of Mosquito-Borne Outbreak

Deadly disease on the rise in the Sunshine State

+ READ ARTICLE

After 42 Floridians came down with dangerous mosquito-borne diseases, state officials advised citizens on Wednesday to take steps to protect themselves against bug bites.

The Florida Department of Health announced 24 confirmed cases of dengue fever as of last week, and 18 confirmed cases of chikungunya, both viruses that do not have vaccines to prevent them and have not typically been found in North America, the CDC says.

All Floridians infected had traveled to the Caribbean or South America, and officials believe they may have contracted the diseases there, but epidemiologists worry that Florida mosquitos may be spreading the illnesses, which could lead to a potential outbreak, Reuters reports.

Dengue is a potentially fatal disease and both can cause long-term problems.

“The threat is greater than I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Walter Tabachnick, director of the Florida Medical Entomological Laboratory in Vero Beach. “Sooner or later, our mosquitoes will pick it up and transmit it to us. That is the imminent threat,” he said.

[Reuters]

 

 

 

TIME Crime

Florida Judge Deals Out Justice With His Fists

Lady Justice will want to keep the blindfold on for this video

+ READ ARTICLE

It took less than 30 seconds for a public defender and a judge to take a courtroom dispute “out back” and settle the disagreement mano a mano.

Closed-circuit camera footage shows a debate about “docket sounding” escalating into openly stated desires to beat and bludgeon one another. “You know if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now,” Judge John Murphy says to public defender Andrew Weinstock.

“You know what? I’m the public defender, I have a right to be here,” replied Weinstock.

“I said sit down,” the judge says. “If you want to fight let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass.”

Moments later the two men walk off screen and presumably out back, where cursing and loud pounding noises can be heard from inside the courtroom. Public Defender Blaise Trettis told Florida Today that Murphy grabbed Weinstock and punched him in the head.

Only the judge returns from the scuffle winded. “I will catch my breath eventually,” he says. Applause from those in the courtroom can be heard.

Public Defender Blaise Trettis told Florida Today “I hope it’s not a reflection on Judge Murphy’s really outstanding legal career,” Trettis said, adding, “If it’s true, you know, I think it’s really an uncharacteristic, isolated incident.”

 

TIME Bizarre

Man Who Stole a GPS Device Calls Police Because He’s Lost

153692499
Getty Images

Ah yes, a perfectly logical sequence of events

Last week, a Florida man called 911 to report that he was lost and being chased by wild boars. Sure, that sounds like just another day in central Florida, but here’s the thing: he was carrying a backpack stuffed with stolen items. Among them was a GPS device.

Look, I’m no street-savvy criminal here, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the best idea to call the police when you’re technically on the lam. (Police discovered that the man, Andrew Joffe, had an open warrant for driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, WKMG reports. Plus, you know, he had committed theft.)

Also, if you’re going to steal a GPS and then you get lost, try USING IT.

“We have had people with warrants call us to turn themselves in before, but it’s unusual for someone with an active warrant, who just burglarized a car, to get lost and call us for help,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “In his defense, it does get pretty dark out on Deen Still Road in the middle of the night.”

Other items police found in Joffe’s backpack included electronic equipment, cellphones and earrings. He was promptly arrested and taken to jail, because obviously.

TIME States

Investigators Target eBay Over Massive Data Breach

More than 100 million eBay users' account information may have been compromised in a cyberattack

Attorneys General in three U.S. states along with European officials are investigating a massive data breach at eBay which may have compromised more than 100 million users’ passwords.

“The magnitude of the reported eBay data breach could be of historic proportions, and my office is part of a group of other attorneys general in the country investigating the matter,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in a statement Thursday.

The Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General in Illinois and Connecticut have also vowed to conduct a probe into the incident.

“My office will be looking into the circumstances surrounding this breach as well as the steps eBay is taking to prevent any future incidents,” said Connecticut Attorney General Jepsen in a statement Thursday. “However, the most important step for consumers to take right now is to change their password and to choose a strong, unique password that is not easily guessed.”

Officials in the UK have promised to investigate as well, the Guardian reports.

“We’re certainly looking at the situation,” Christopher Graham, the UK’s Information Commissioner, told the BBC. “We have to work with colleagues in Luxembourg where eBay is based for European purposes. We were in touch with the Luxembourg data protection authority yesterday.”

EBay notified users of the data breach Wednesday. The company has urged all users to change their passwords, but it said no financial data was compromised in a cyberattack that took the company weeks to detect.

Need tips on how to set a strong password? Watch the video above.

TIME animals

Well, Here’s An Elephant Wading In the Ocean in Florida

Does not compute

+ READ ARTICLE

This weekend, some Florida beach-goers spotted an elephant wading in the water, just kind of standing there stoically as the waves rippled around him.

Luckily, Todd Unbehagen, who was visiting North Redington Beach with his family, captured video of the bizarre sight. Apparently, the elephant was part of someone’s private beach party, the St. Petersburg Tribune reports.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser