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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Coincidence or Conspiracy: Unprecedented Number of Federal Death Penalty Cases in No-Kill States

From washingtonpost.com/A.P.: At one point last week, a cop killer, a notorious druglord and a defendant portrayed by prosecutors as a one-man crime wave were fighting for their lives in the same federal courthouse in Brooklyn in an unusual confluence of three death penalty trials under one roof. A fourth capital trial involving a triple-murder defendant has opened in Manhattan federal court as well.

"It's totally unprecedented to have two, let alone four cases going on at one time in one city," said Kevin McNally, a death penalty expert.

Death penalty opponents have complained that starting with President Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft, officials in Washington began rubber-stamping the pursuit of the death penalty in federal cases, particularly in states with no capital punishment laws of their own. In New York, the state's highest court declared the state death penalty statute unconstitutional in 2004.

While the volume of state death penalty cases around the country has decreased in recent years, federal cases have multiplied, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

One result: There are now 46 inmates on the federal death row _ more than double the total in 2000; three, including Timothy McVeigh, have been put to death since 2001.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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