Friday, February 8

Nebraska Supreme Court Nixes Electric Chair

The AP reports:

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that electrocution is cruel and
unusual punishment, outlawing the electric chair in the only state that still
used it as its sole means of execution.

In the landmark ruling, the court said the Legislature may vote to have a death penalty, just not one that offends rights under the state constitution.

The high court made the ruling in the case of Raymond Mata Jr., convicted for the 1999 kidnapping and killing of 3-year-old Adam Gomez of Scottsbluff.

In its 6-1 ruling, the high court said the evidence shows that electrocution inflicts "intense pain and agonizing suffering" and that "(electrocution) has proven itself to be a dinosaur more befitting the laboratory of Baron Frankenstein than the death chamber" of state prisons.

"Contrary to the State's argument, there is abundant evidence that prisoners sometimes will retain enough brain functioning to consciously suffer the torture high voltage electric current inflicts on a human body," Judge William Connolly wrote in the opinion.

Chief Justice Mike Heavican wrote a dissent, saying that he did not think electrocution was "cruel and unusual."

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