Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXVII Number 11, November-December 2019

  Saturday, December 14, 11 AM to 2 PM. 
WRITE FOR RIGHTS, Dog Haus Biergarten, 
93 E. Green St., Pasadena. This special letter 
writing event replaces our usual Group 22 
Tuesday evening letter writing at Caltech for 
the month of December. 
  Sunday, December 15, 4:00 PM. Holiday 
Potluck & Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. For December we read a novel, 
"Waiting for Eden" by Elliot Ackerman.
  NOTE: This month our book group meeting 
is combined with a holiday potluck and will 
be held at Joyce's house in Montrose. For 
information, email or 
phone 818-249-4056 and leave a voicemail.

Hello all,

This is Joyce, once again substituting for Kathy, 
who's been extremely busy at work lately. She's 
managing to find time to organize Group 22's 
Write For Rights event on Dec. 14 at the Dog 
Haus in Old Town Pasadena (see above). 

Group member Veronica arranged a previous 
W4R event spotlighting Uyghur human rights 
issues on Nov 23 at Dolan's Uyghur Cuisine in 
Alhambra. Kathy said that she and Robert 
attended and were "able to crank out a few 
letters and eat some of the yummy dishes. 
Veronica was right, the black mushrooms with 
celery were really tasty."

Best wishes to Veronica for a good recovery 
from surgery on her arm. She expects it may 
take six months for full recovery. Huge thanks 
to Veronica for all the awesome work she's done 
this year for Group 22 and other human rights 
groups! She managed our group's participation 
in two environmental fairs last spring, tabled at 
the Caltech community advocacy fair, and was a 
chief organizer of Visual Artists Guild's 
Tiananmen commemoration and exhibits. And 
that's just a partial list!

Hope to see you at Write For Rights. If you can't 
attend our Dec. 14 event, please consider 
attending another event or participating as an 

Write A Letter! Change A Life!

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, Dec. 15,
4:00 PM

Holiday Potluck at private home in Montrose

Waiting for Eden
by Elliot Ackerman


"Patiently, and unflinchingly, Ackerman is 
becoming one of the great poet laureates of 
America's tragic adventurism across the globe." 
-Pico Iyer

Eden lies in a hospital bed, unable to move or 
speak. His wife Mary spends every day on the 
sofa in his room. We see them through the eyes 
of Eden's best friend, a fellow Marine who 
didn't make it back home-and who must relive 
the secrets held between all three of them as he 
waits for Eden to finally, mercifully die and join 
him in whatever comes after.

A breathtakingly spare and shattering novel that 
explores the unseen aftereffects-and 
unacknowledged casualties-of war, Waiting for 
Eden is a piercingly insightful, deeply felt 
meditation on loyalty, friendship, betrayal, and 
"The Tim O'Brien of our era." -Vogue

"Devastating." -The Wall Street Journal

 "Haunting. . . . Daring." -The Boston Globe

 "Heart-wrenching." -NPR

ELLIOT ACKERMAN is a National Book Award 
finalist, author of the novels Waiting for Eden, 
Dark at the Crossing, and Green on Blue, and of the 
nonfiction book Places and Names. His work has 
appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, 
The New York Times Magazine, and The Best 
American Short Stories, among other publications. 
He is both a former White House Fellow and a 
Marine, and he served five tours of duty in Iraq 
and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver 
Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple 
Heart. He divides his time between New York 
City and Washington, D.C.

By Stevi Carroll

Rodney Reed

The year is 1996. The place is a small Texas 
town, Bastrop. The characters are a white 
woman, Stacey Stites; a white man, Jimmy 
Fennell; and a black man, Rodney Reed. Ms 
Stites lives with Mr Fennell who is a Bastrop 
police officer. Ms Stites and Mr Reed are having 
an affair. Ms Stites is raped and strangled. A 
year after her murder, Mr Reed becomes a 
suspect because his DNA is matched with some 
found on her body. While Mr Fennell is a person 
of interest, Mr Reed is arrested, tried, convicted, 
and sentenced to death. This is after Mr Reed 
was arrested and charged with kidnapping, 
beating, and attempting rape of another woman 
six months after Ms Stites' murder. Mr Reed's 
DNA was on file because he'd been accused of 
other rape cases. This is how the authorities 
were able to match Mr Reed's DNA to Ms Stites' 
case. While Mr Reed was considered a suspect 
in attacks of six women, he was not prosecuted 
in five of them and for the one he was charged 
with, he was acquitted; nonetheless, his DNA 
was on file.

Now about DNA. Ms Stites was strangled with a 
belt. Was that belt tested for DNA? No. Was hair 
found on Ms Stites' body Mr Reed's hair? No. 
Was the time of Ms Stites' death accurate? No. 
She may have been dead before she was 
supposed to leave home for her 3:30 AM shift at 
a grocery store thirty miles from her home.

In 2007, policeman Jimmy Fennell was accused 
of raping a woman he had in custody. He 
pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping and 
improper sexual activity while the woman was 
in custody. He was sentenced to ten years in 
prison and was released in March of 2018. 
According to an affidavit by Arthur Snow, a 
member of the Aryan Brotherhood who was in 
prison with Mr Fennell, Mr Fennell admitted he 
killed Ms Stites because of her affair with Mr 
Reed, remember - a black man. Another witness 
who submitted an affidavit, Jim Clampit, a 
former Sheriff's Deputy, said at Ms Stites' 
funeral, Mr Fennell looked at Ms Stites' body 
and said, "you got what you deserved."

Recently, Mr Reed received a stay of execution. 
How did he get this indefinite stay? On 
November 12, Bryce Benjet, Mr Reed's lawyer 
who has worked this case for 18 years, and the 
rest of Mr Reed's legal team filed an appeal to 
the Texas Court of Appeals with the affidavits 
and with statements from other witnesses who 
said the relationship between Ms Stites and Mr 
Fennell was not as 'loving' as was portrayed 
during Mr Reed's hearing. Also, on November 5, 
26 Texas lawmakers wrote a letter to Texas 
Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of 
Pardons and Paroles in which they asked for a 
hold to be put on Mr Reed's execution so that 
the new leads could be examined. Celebrities 
including Beyonce, Rihanna, and Kim 
Kardashian West, and activist Shaun King 
brought attention to Mr Reed's case, and Ms 
Kardashian West asked (tweeted at) Governor 
Abbott to review the new evidence.

November 20 was to be the day Mr Reed would 
die. Instead Governor Abbott has given him a 
reprieve and the Texas Board of Pardons and 
Paroles reviewed Mr Reed's clemency 
application and unanimously decided to 
recommend the delay. What this will bring we 
will wait to see.

And let us remember this is Texas, where 
Governor Greg Abbott has been governor since 
January 2015 and during which time, 48 people 
have been executed in Texas alone.

Federal Executions

Is US Attorney General William Barr jonesing to 
dust off the gurney and lethal injection protocol 
for Federal executions? His rationale is justice 
for the victims' family and friends but finding 
just the right lethal cocktail is problematic. 
Presently, four people who were scheduled for 
execution in December have received stays or 

A 1994 federal statute says federal executions 
shall be carried out "in the manner prescribed 
by the law of the State in which the sentence is 
imposed." AG Barr said the Federal death 
penalty protocol would use a single drug, 
pentobarbital, rather than the three-drug 
cocktail used in the past because one of the 
problems is getting the drugs. While Justice 
Department attorneys argued that the use of 
lethal injection that was similar regardless of the 
drugs, US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan 
ruled that since the 1994 federal statute says 
federal executions shall be carried out "in the 
manner prescribed by the law of the State in 
which the sentence is imposed, requiring the 
federal government to follow more than just the 
state's method of execution is consistent with 
other sections of the statute and with historical 
practices. For all these reasons, this court finds 
that the FDPA [Federal Death Penalty Act] does 
not authorize the creation of a single 
implementation procedure for federal 
executions. There is no statute that gives the 
[Bureau of Prisons] or DOJ the authority to 
establish a single implementation procedure for 
all federal executions."

In time, Federal executions will begin again. But 
then again, maybe not.

Conservatives and the Death Penalty

What do 250 politically active conservatives 
from 44 states have in common? They want to 
abolish the death penalty in their states. They 
belong to a group called The Conservatives 
Concerned About the Death Penalty and they 
have issued a signed statement. In part the 
statement they signed says, "We have come to 
the conclusion that the death penalty does not 
work and can't be made to work, not in spite of 
our conservative principles, but because of 
them. In light of its track record, we call on our 
fellow conservatives to reexamine the death 
penalty and demonstrate the leadership needed 
to end this failed policy."

Part of their reason for opposing the death 
penalty is their pro-life stance. Another reason is 
a mistrust of government, and as Jared Olsen, a 
state representative in Wyoming said, " 
blows my mind that any American would want 
to trust the justice system with matters of life 
and death." 

Mr Olsen also believes that the US Justice 
Department's resumption of the Federal death 
penalty puts the US in the same category as 
nations such as North Korea and that this is  
"where we just simply don't stand when it 
comes to our values."

These conservative activists believe if the states 
lead, the Federal government may follow. 
Hannah Cox, the national manager for 
Conservatives Concerned About the Death 
Penalty said, "We don't need the death penalty. 
It's a bad, failed, big-government program, and 
we hope this list will help make headways on 

I see some common ground here.

Recent Exonerations 

Jack Sagin - State: CA
 - Date of Exoneration: 10/10/2019
In 1986, Jack Sagin was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for murder in Monterey 
County, California. He was exonerated in 2019 
after DNA tests on evidence from the crime 
scene identified the profiles of five different 
men, none of whom was Sagin.

Richard Kussmaul, Michael Shelton, James Pitts, 
Jr. - State: TX 
- Date of Exoneration: 10/16/2019
In 1994, Richard Kussmaul was sentenced to life 
in prison without parole for the murders of two 
teenagers in Moody, Texas. Kussmaul and three 
co-defendants who pled guilty to sexual assault 
in the case--Michael Shelton, James Pitts, Jr. and 
James Long--were exonerated in 2019 after 
testing excluded all four defendants and 
revealed DNA from two unidentified males.

Michael Shelton - State: TX 
- Date of Exoneration: 10/16/2019
In 1994, Michael Shelton was sentenced to 20 
years in prison after falsely confessing to 
sexually assaulting a 17-year-old woman who 
was murdered along with her 14-year-old 
companion in Moody, Texas. Shelton and three 
co-defendants--Richard Kussmaul, James Pitts, 
Jr. and James Long--were exonerated in 2019 
after testing excluded all four defendants and 
revealed DNA from two unidentified males.

Kevin Warrior - State: OK 
- Date of Exoneration: 10/18/2019
In 2016, Kevin Warrior was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for murder in Tulsa, 
Oklahoma. He was granted a new trial and the 
charges were dismissed, after a gun recovered 
from another man who admitted the crime was 
linked to the murder.

Quintin Alonzo - State: TX 
- Date of Exoneration: 11/1/2019
Quintin Alonzo of Dallas, Texas (pictured with 
his mother) was sentenced to life in prison for 
murder and assault in 2003. He was exonerated 
in 2019, four years after the real killer confessed 
to the crime the day before he was executed for 
a different murder.

Stays of Execution

7	James Dailey		FL
13	Cleveland Jackson	OH
 	(reprieved until 10:00 AM January 13, 
2021 unless he receives another reprieve)
13	Patrick Murphy	TX
20	Rodney Reed		TX
30	Tim Jones, Jr		SC
	(legally premature warrant - STAYED)

9	Daniel Lewis Lee	FEDERAL  
Preliminary injunction granted - subject to 
11	James Hanna		OH	
(reprieved until 10:00 AM July 16, 2020 unless he 
receives another reprieve or clemency is 
11	Lezmond Mitchell	FEDERAL  
(oral argument will be heard on December 13, 
2019, at 2:00 PM in Phoenix, Arizona)
13	Wesley Ira Purkey	FEDERAL  
Preliminary injunction granted - subject to 
13	Jakeem Towles	PA	
(legally premature warrant - STAYED)


4	Charles Rhimes	SD	
	Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital)
	Years From Sentence To Execution - 16

6	Justen Hall*		TX
	Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital)
	Years From Sentence To Execution - 14

13	Ray Cromartie		GA
	Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital)
	Years From Sentence To Execution - 22

* volunteer - an inmate who waived ordinary 
appeals that remained at the time of his or her 

Narges Mohammadi
and Gao Zhisheng
By Joyce Wolf

Group 22 continues to work for both imprisoned 
Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi and 
missing human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng in 
China. At our Write For Rights event on Dec. 14, 
you can sign petitions to government officials 
for these two prisoners of conscience. You will 
also have the opportunity to write cards of 
support to their families. (Gao's wife and 
children fled to the U.S. in 2009. Narges's 
husband and 12-year-old twins now live in exile 
in Paris.)

There has been no news of Gao Zhisheng since 
he went missing in August 2017. Amnesty 
marked the second anniversary of Gao's 
disappearance with a tribute by his friend and 
fellow activist Teng Biao.

Jean-Christophe of Amnesty Belgium has been 
coordinating efforts for Narges Mohammadi. 
He put together a review of recent work by 
groups in Norway, Sweden, the USA, Denmark, 
Switzerland, and of course Belgium. I added a 
copy of his review to our website:
Congratulations to our fellow AIUSA group in 
Nashville on their work for Narges, and thanks 
to Stevi for taking the Group 22 photo at our 
September letter writing. #FreeNarges!

Group 22 November Letter Count
UAs                                12
POC Narges Mohammadi (Iran)         9
Card for POC Gao Zhisheng (China)   1
Total                              22

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