Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXVII Number 3, March 2019

  Thursday, March 28, 7:30-9:00 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, Tyson 
House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. Please 
join us!
  Tuesday, April 9, 7:30-9:00 PM. Letter 
Writing meeting at the Caltech Athenaeum, 
corner of Hill and California in Pasadena. This 
informal gathering is a great way for 
newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty. 
  Thursday, April 25, 7:30-9:00 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, Tyson 
House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. 
  Sunday, April 28, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion Group. This 
month we read "The Boat Runner" by Devin 
Murphy. (For April we changed the date to 
the 4th Sunday because Easter falls on the 
3rd Sunday.)


Hello all,

At the March letter writing, Joyce brought 
actions for our Iranian POC, Narges 
Mohammadi, and also for several other 
imprisoned Iranians. Since it's the season for 
"Nowruz" or the Persian New Year, we sent 18 
cards wishing the recipients a happy new year. 

Nowruz is celebrated from the Balkans to the Black 
Sea basin to Central Asia to the Middle East and 
elsewhere on the first day of spring, or the vernal 
equinox. Los Angeles has the largest Persian 
community outside Iran and prides itself on the 
largest Nowruz celebration in the country. It's not a 
religious holiday but rather a universal celebration of 
new beginnings: wishing prosperity and welcoming 
the future while shedding the past. Nowruz is a 
month long celebration filled with parties, craft 
making, street performances and public rituals. And 
yes, lots of food.
[Above information from, "Nowruz: what 
it is and how you can celebrate"]

Field trip to a Persian restaurant, anyone?

Don't miss the Environmental Fair at the 
Arboretum which Veronica has been tirelessly 
organizing - Saturday, March 30, 9:00-3:00.

Con carino,

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, April 28
6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd 

The Boat Runner
by Devin Murphy


An ambitious coming-of-age story centered on a 
Dutch family dealing with personal tragedy and 
the German occupation during World War II.

It's the summer of 1939, but the rumblings 
across Europe barely reach Jacob Koopman, 
Murphy's 14-year-old narrator, as he enjoys the 
prosperous life that his father's light-bulb 
factory has brought the family. He's close to his 
year-older brother, Edwin; has a tattooed rogue 
in his Uncle Martin, who runs a fishing boat on 
the North Sea; and even enjoys a stint at a Hitler 
Youth camp, where the father sends the boys to 
curry favor for a big deal with Volkswagen. 
Then Hitler invades Poland on September 1. 
Edwin disappears during an air raid, and the 
father must flee when his industrial sabotage is 
discovered. Uncle Martin enlists Jacob in violent 
actions against the Germans that disturb the 
boy, but it's a Royal Air Force raid on his 
hometown that persuades him, just shy of 18, to 
enlist in the German army. There he finds 
himself in a naval program involving midget 
submarines carrying a single torpedo and sent 
off on solo missions with what turn out to be 
rather low chances of success. At a critical 
moment, Uncle Martin reappears. Murphy 
throws so much at this impressionable, 
tormented Dutch teenager that it's a wonder he 
doesn't crack up. When he finally comes to 
question loyalties once rooted in family and 
country, he has embarked on a trek across 
Europe and another string of engaging 
adventures. The ending-or endings-may well 
provoke anything from quibbling to all-night 

Murphy's debut novel is a purposely limited 
view of war, as was The Red Badge of Courage, but 
strong characters and compelling narrative 
convey the impact well beyond one family. An 
impressive debut.

Devin Murphy is the nationally bestselling 
author of The Boat Runner and Tiny Americans. 
His fiction has appeared in more than sixty 
literary journals and anthologies, including The 
Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, and 
Confrontation. He is an Associate Professor at 
Bradley University and lives in Chicago with his 
wife and kids.

By Stevi Carroll

Governor Newsom and the Death Penalty

Wednesday, March 13, 2019, Governor Gavin 
Newsom signed an executive order putting a 
moratorium on the death penalty in California, 
thus halting the possible execution of 737 
human beings. This moratorium will be effective 
as long as he is governor. 

Governor Newsom came to this decision after 
arriving at the conclusion that the death penalty 
is "ineffective, irreversible and immoral." He 
had the opportunity to meet Pete Pianezzi, a 
wrongfully convicted man who narrowly 
escaped execution and was later pardoned. He 
believes the death penalty has wasted millions 
of tax-payer dollars and that we need to 
consider the 164 people nationwide who have 
been wrongfully convicted, sentenced to die, 
and exonerated. The Governor said, "In 
America, we execute more human beings than 
any other democracy on earth. Just in 2017, the 
United States joined Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, 
Somalia, Pakistan, China and Egypt as the 
world's top executioners." 

His ultimate decision came, though, because he 
realized "I cannot sign off on executing 
hundreds and hundreds of human beings."

Not all Californians support Governor 
Newsom's moratorium on the death penalty. 
Carl DeMaio's Reform California PAC is raising 
funds for a poll to see if other Californians want 
to recall the Governor. One reason to recall 
Governor Newsom is the death penalty 
moratorium. Mr. DeMaio needs nearly 1.87 
million signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot, 
and since many signatures are excluded, his 
effort would have to secure 2.6 million voter 

With the drop in crime and many Californians 
losing the desire to execute people, let's hope 
Governor Newsom's recall is not on the 2020 
ballot and his executive order prevails.

New Hampshire

With only one person on death row and its last 
execution in 1939, the New Hampshire state 
legislature voted 279-88 to repeal the death 
penalty. Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, 
believes the death penalty "does nothing to 
bring back our loved ones. All it does is widens 
the circle of violence." Mr Cushing has personal 
knowledge of what it means to have a family 
member murdered and has always opposed 
capital punishment, even after his father was 
murdered. He said, "If I changed my position on 
the death penalty because my father was 
murdered, that'd only give a little more power 
to the killers."

Additionally, Rep. Gary Danielson, R-Bedford, 
believes he could not say he's pro-life and then 
sanction the state's executing people. This is 
why he voted to repeal the death penalty.

The one person who is on the NH death row is 
Michael Addison who was sentenced to death 
for murdering a police officer.  This repeal does 
not exclude his execution. Despite that, U.S. Sen. 
Kelly Ayotte, who prosecuted Addison as New 
Hampshire's attorney general, disagrees with 
repealing the death penalty. She said, 
"Essentially the House today voted to overturn 
Michael Addison's sentence for murdering 
Michael Briggs." Because this repeal of the death 
penalty does not include Mr Addison, this is not 
true. Ms Ayotte believes that the death penalty 
needs to continue in a limited scope and that it 
deters crime.

A vote of 279-88 is enough to deny Gov. Chris 
Sununu a veto which he used last year on a 
similar bill.

New Hampshire joins these states without the 
death penalty: Alaska, 1957; Connecticut, 2012; 
Delaware, 2012; Hawaii, 1957; Illinois, 2011; 
Iowa, 1965; Maine, 1887; Maryland, 2013; 
Massachusetts, 1984; Michigan, 1846; Minnesota, 
1911; New Jersey, 2007; New Mexico, 2009; New 
York, 2007; North Dakota, 1973; Rhode Island, 
1984; Vermont, 1964; Washington, 2018; West 
Virginia, 1965; Wisconsin, 1853; and the District 
of Columbia, 1981. For some of these states with 
existing death row inmates, their death 
sentences are upheld.

Thank you, New Hampshire.

Recent Exonerations

Grover Thompson - State: IL 
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/14/2019
In 1981, Grover Thompson was sentenced to 40 
years in prison for the attempted murder of a 72-
year-old woman in Mount Vernon, Illinois. 
Thompson died in prison in 1996, but was 
posthumously exonerated in 2019 based on the 
confession of the real attacker, a serial murderer 
and rapist.

Gary Washington - State: MD 
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/15/2019
In 1987, Gary Washington was sentenced to life 
in prison for a murder in Baltimore, Maryland. 
He was exonerated in 2019 after the only 
witness, then a 12-year-old boy, recanted his 

Steven Chaney - State: TX 
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/16/2019
In 1987, Steven Chaney was sentenced to life in 
prison for murder in Dallas County, Texas. He 
was exonerated in 2019 when the bite-mark 
evidence against him was discredited and the 
real killer was identified. 

Patrick Pursley - State: IL 
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/16/2019
In 1994, Patrick Pursley was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for a murder in Rockford, 
Illinois. He was acquitted in 2019 at a retrial 
after the prosecution's ballistics evidence was 

Geraldo Iglesias - State: IL 
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/16/2019
In 1995, Geraldo Iglesias was sentenced to 35 
years in prison for a murder in Chicago, Illinois. 
He was exonerated in 2019 by evidence that a 
detective physically abused a witness until he 
falsely claimed Iglesias admitted the crime.

Eric Blackmon - State: IL 
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/16/2019
In 2004, Eric Blackmon was sentenced to 60 
years in prison for a murder in Chicago, Illinois. 
He was exonerated in 2019 after successfully 
arguing that his trial attorney provided 
ineffective assistance by failing to interview 
multiple alibi witnesses who all said Blackmon 
was at a Fourth of July party at the time of the 

Huwe Burton - State: NY 
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/24/2019
Huwe Burton was convicted in 1991 for stabbing 
his mother to death when he was 16 years old. 
He was exonerated in 2019 after an investigation 
revealed that his confession was coerced and 
that his mother's real killer was likely a 
downstairs neighbor.

Dean McKee - State: FL 
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/30/2019
In 1988, 16-year-old Dean McKee was sentenced 
to life in prison for murder in Tampa, Florida. 
He was granted a new trial and the charges 
were dismissed in 2019 after DNA tests 
excluded him as the killer.

Bladimil Arroyo - State: NY 
 - Date of Exoneration: 2/23/2019
In 2002, Bladimil Arroyo was sentenced to 20 
years to life after he confessed to a murder in 
Brooklyn, New York. He was exonerated in 2019 
based on evidence that his confession was false.

Michael Sullivan - State: MA 
 - Date of Exoneration: 3/1/2019
In 1987, Michael Sullivan was sentenced to life 
in prison for murder in Middlesex County, 
Massachusetts. He was exonerated in 2019 after 
DNA tests excluded him from the only physical 
evidence linking him to the crime.

David Bryant - State: NY 
 - Date of Exoneration: 3/4/2019
David Bryant was convicted in 1976 for the rape 
and murder of an 8-year-old girl in the Bronx, 
New York. The charges were dismissed in 2019 
because his attorney had failed to procure 
testing that would have shown that Bryant 
wasn't the source of blood and bodily fluids 
found on the victim.

Stays of Execution

8    Timothy M. Jacoby    PA 	
Legally premature death warrant. Stay granted 
by the York County Court of Common Pleas on 
February 8, 2019 to permit Jacoby to pursue state 
post-conviction appeals that are available to all 
Pennsylvania prisoners as a matter of right. 

20    Archie Dixon    OH	 
Rescheduled for June 23, 2021 by Gov. John 
Kasich on September 1, 2017.


28 	Billie Coble    TX    
	Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 
	 years from sentencing to execution: 28

Gao Zhisheng 
& Narges Mohammadi
By Joyce Wolf

April may well be the cruelest month for Group 
22's adopted Prisoners of Conscience. Gao 
Zhisheng will be 55 years old on April 20, 
wherever China is secretly detaining him. And 
on April 21, Narges Mohammadi will mark her 
47th birthday in Iran's notorious Evin Prison. 
We plan to send birthday wishes with messages 
of support to Gao Zhisheng's wife in California 
and Narges Mohammadi's husband in Paris. 

It was a happier birthday for Gao Zhisheng in 
April 2015. He had recently been released from 
prison, and although suffering from the effects 
of torture and ill treatment, he was able to speak 
with his wife and children by phone. Because he 
was no longer in prison, Amnesty closed his 
case file, and Group 22 marked the end of our 
work for him with a birthday party (still on 
YouTube at 
Sadly, Gao Zhisheng was disappeared in 
August 2017 and we resumed our work for him 
when Amnesty reopened his case file a few 
months ago.

UAs                        26
Nowruz cards (Iran POCs)   18
Total                      44

Amnesty International Group 22
The Caltech Y
Mail Code C1-128
Pasadena, CA 91125

Amnesty International's mission is to undertake research and action focused on 
preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, 
freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the 
context of its work to promote all human rights.