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Texas Jew on death row granted stay of execution

(JTA) — A stay of execution was upheld for a Jew on death row in Texas, one day before he was scheduled to receive lethal injection.

Jedidiah Murphy, 48, was sentenced to death for the fatal 2000 shooting of 80-year-old Bertie Lee Cunningham in Dallas County during a carjacking.

On Monday, one day before his execution date, Murphy’s spiritual advisor and chaplain, Rabbi Dovid Goldstein, who guided him as he celebrated being a bar mitzvah in 2016, accompanied Murphy as he lay tefillin for what they both thought might be his last time. But later in the day, a federal appeals court upheld the stay of execution.

The ruling caps a period of a few days when Murphy’s fate hung in limbo. He was initially granted a stay of execution by a federal district court on Oct. 6 on the grounds that DNA evidence suggesting he was capable of “further dangerousness” did not meet the required burden of proof, as his attorneys had argued. 

But two days later, the Attorney General’s Office filed a motion in the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the stay of execution. Had that motion been accepted, Murphy would have been executed on Tuesday. 

The appeals court ruled, however, that the stay of execution would remain in effect until a similar court case also involving DNA was resolved. That case was brought by a different Texas prisoner, Ruben Gutierrez. 

“We enter no ruling on the motion to vacate the stay at this time,” the three judges wrote in their ruling. “Therefore, the stay of execution will remain in effect. Once the opinion of this court issues in Gutierrez, we will order additional briefing on whether the stay should be vacated.” 

Murphy and his supporters believe the DNA evidence will show that Murphy never committed an earlier carjacking that was central to the argument that he deserved the death penalty. He was never charged in that crime, but prosecutors accused him of committing it and said it suggested he was capable of “further dangerousness.” 

Murphy’s attorneys, who could not be reached for comment, have been unsuccessful in other recent attempts to spare their client from the death penalty. On Friday, the same day the stay was granted, a federal court denied a request to block Murphy’s execution. In that filing, his attorneys alleged that the drugs he was set to be injected with were damaged when they were exposed to smoke and extreme heat during a recent fire at a state prison.

He was also denied clemency from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Sunday.

In a message Murphy sent to Cantor Michael Zoosman, a former prison chaplain who runs L’Chaim, a Jewish anti-death penalty group, Murphy said the back-and-forth on what will happen to him is difficult to handle, but is even more challenging for his family.

“We’ve seen it many times where we’re in a place like this, the day before, there’s a stay in place and you still have the execution carried out,” Zoosman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Because of the uncertainty, last week, Zoosman sent Murphy a copy of the viddui, a traditional Jewish confessional prayer recited before death.

“I’ve done that many times for people as a hospice and hospital chaplain,” Zoosman explained. “But it also applies here, if in fact he is going to be put to death, then this is the prayer that our tradition offers for someone who’s about to face death.”

Murphy was abused as a child by his birth father and adoptive father and abandoned his birth mother, who was Jewish, according to the Forward. In the year before the murder, Murphy had sought mental health care. He was diagnosed with mental dissociative identity disorder, major depression and alcohol dependency, the Texas Observer reported. While he has confessed to the crime, he was high on cocaine and says he does not remember it. 

Three years ago I cried out to Hashem and submitted to his authority and my mind was completely restored,” Murphy wrote in an email from prison to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “That is a miracle and so do I have faith? Absolutely, because I’ve beaten the odds time and again and I know it is for a reason I don’t fully understand. Being Jewish brought a sense of community and I’ve been blessed with Rabbis that pour into someone that did not deserve it.”

The post Texas Jew on death row granted stay of execution appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

The post Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis first appeared on

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.


Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

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