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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Japan: Man serving life for murder gets death sentence for another slaying

Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
A man sentenced to life over a high-profile yami saito (darkness website) murder case in 2007 has now been sentenced to death for a different slaying committed 9 years earlier.

Judge Taro Kageyama of the Nagoya District Court sentenced Yoshitomo Hori, 40, to death on Tuesday in a lay judge trial for the murder of Ichio Magoori, 45, and his wife, Satomi, 36, in Aichi Prefecture in 1998.

In the 2007 murder case, Hori was initially sentenced to death in 2009 for kidnapping, robbing and killing Rie Isogai, 31, in Nagoya with 2 men Hori met through a so-called yami saito for seeking "crime mates."

The sentence was reduced to life in prison in 2011 by a higher court, which acknowledged the possibility of his rehabilitation. The sentence was finalized by the Supreme Court in 2012.

"It is rare that a death penalty is handed down to a defendant after his life imprisonment was finalized for a different case," said Hiroki Nakajima, a criminal law professor at Heisei International University.

According to the indictment, Hori conspired with 2 different men and killed the Magoori couple in an apartment in Hekinan and stole Y60,000 from them in June 1998.

Hori is also suspected of assaulting a woman in her 70s in an apartment in Nagoya and robbing her in 2006.M

One of Hori's accomplices in the Isogai murder, Kenji Kawagishi, was sentenced to life in prison, while the other, Tsukasa Kanda, was sentenced to death. He was hanged this past June.

Source: Japan Times, December 15, 2015

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