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Editorial: In a civilized society, not even the most vicious crimes justify a death sentence

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It is soul-bruising to contemplate the torture that 10-year-old Anthony Avalos endured in his Lancaster home for more than a week before dying last year. Whippings with a looped cord and belt. Repeatedly held upside down then dropped on his head. Getting slammed into pieces of furniture and against the floor. Hot sauce poured on his face and mouth.
The road map of the abuse stretched from head to toe on his small malnourished body — bruises, abrasions, scabs and cuts visible on the outside. Traumatic brain injury and soft tissue damage on the inside. All allegedly perpetrated by his mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva.
RELATED | California: Prosecutors seeking death penalty in Anthony Avalos torture case
If ever a set of circumstances called for the death penalty, this would be it. Few were surprised when Los Angeles County prosecutors said Wednesday that if the couple is convicted of the torture-murder, the jury will be asked to recommend a death sentence.
Such ca…

Missouri Governor Commutes Kimber Edwards' Death Sentence to Life

Kimber Edwards
Kimber Edwards
On Friday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who has helped set a record pace of executions in the state, commuted the death sentence of a man facing execution next week.

Kimber Edwards was sentenced to death for hiring a hit man to kill his ex-wife in 2000. 

The case relied on the testimony of the killer, who has since recanted his story that Edwards hired him, as well as a confession from Edwards himself.

In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the killer said he framed Edwards to help himself avoid the death penalty.

Edwards’ lawyers claim that police coerced his confession, and that Edwards has a form of autism.

“After a thorough review of the facts surrounding the murder of Kimberly Cantrell, I am convinced the evidence supports the jury’s decision to convict Kimber Edwards of first-degree murder,” Nixon said in a statement Friday.

“At the same time, however, I am using my authority under the Missouri Constitution to commute Edwards’ sentence to life without the possibility of parole,” Nixon continued. “This is a step not taken lightly, and only after significant consideration of the totality of the circumstances. With this decision, Kimber Edwards will remain in prison for the remainder of his life for this murder.”

The move is unusual for Nixon, who during his time in office has overseen the executions of 79 inmates — 20 during his tenure as governor and 59 during his 16-year tenure as attorney general.

Source: BuzzFeed News, Chris McDaniel, October 2, 2015

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