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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Judge OKs second death penalty expert for Tsarnaev defense

Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev added a second death penalty expert to his defense team today, less than a month after federal prosecutors announced they would seek execution if he is convicted in the deadly attacks, according to court papers.

U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. allowed the appointment of David A. Bruck, an attorney with extensive experience in death penalty cases — including seven that appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. Bruck will join Judy Clarke, a death penalty expert who won life sentences for several high-profile mass killers, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Tucson, Ariz., mass shooter Jared Loughner.

Tsarnaev’s attorneys previously had a request to appoint Bruck denied without prejudice. In their most recent request “the defendant has made a satisfactory showing that the appointment of Mr. Buck is ‘necessary for adequate representation,’” according to O’Toole’s order.

The motion prompting O’Toole’s order was sealed.

Tsarnaev, 20, is accused of killing three and wounding more than 260 in the April 15 attack, then murdering a Massachusetts Institute of Technology cop later in a desperate bid to escape capture.

Source: AP, Feb. 21, 2014

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