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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Colorado: James Holmes to enter insanity plea

DENVER The man accused in the deadly Colorado theater shootings wants to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, his lawyers said Tuesday.

The insanity plea was widely expected given the compelling evidence against Holmes, who is accused of opening fire July 20 in a crowded theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 70 injured.

But his lawyers delayed entering an insanity plea for weeks, saying Colorado's insanity and death penalty laws overlapped in a way that could severely — and unconstitutionally — hamper his defense if he did plead insanity.

Holmes, 25, is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.

A judge in the case previously entered a standard not guilty plea for him. If a judge accepts the new plea, Holmes would be sent to the state mental hospital, where doctors would determine whether he was insane at the time of the shootings.

If the doctors do determine that Holmes was insane, a jury could still find him guilty.

Colorado law defines insanity as the inability to distinguish right from wrong, caused by a diseased or defective mind. The law specifically excludes depravity, "moral obliquity" or passion caused by anger or hatred from being considered insanity.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes' attorneys have said in court hearings and written in court documents that Holmes is mentally ill. He was being seen by a psychiatrist before the attack at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie. Prosecutors say Holmes spent months buying guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition, donned police-style body armor and opened fire in the crowded theater.

Last month, prosecutors filed a court document listing aggravating factors they plan to raise in a possible death penalty phase of the trial. The factors included the death of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest of dead.

Prosecutors also said in the filing that the slayings were "especially heinous, cruel or depraved."

Source: AP, May 7, 2013

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