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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…

Man whose case led to ruling against Connecticut death penalty resentenced to life in prison

A former death row inmate whose appeal resulted in capital punishment being eliminated in Connecticut has been resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hartford Superior Court Judge Carl Taylor sentenced 36-year-old Eduardo Santiago on Friday for a 2000 murder-for-hire killing in West Hartford. 

Prosecutors say Santiago shot 45-year-old Joseph Niwinski in exchange for a pink-striped snowmobile with a broken clutch.

Santiago, whose death sentence previously had been overturned, was facing the possibility of it being reinstated when the state Supreme Court ruled on his appeal in August. 

A divided court found that capital punishment "no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency" and doesn't serve any penal purpose.

The state had eliminated the death penalty in 2012, except for those who were already facing capital punishment.

Source: Associated Press, December 7, 2015

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