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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee dies while awaiting execution

Derrick Todd Lee
Derrick Todd Lee
A Louisiana serial killer linked to the gruesome murders of 7 women died Thursday as he awaited execution, officials said.

Derrick Todd Lee's cause of death was not immediately released.

The 47-year-old was moved from the Louisiana State Penitentiary's death row to a hospital Saturday for unknown medical reasons.

An autopsy will be performed by the West Feliciana coroner's office, Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, told the Advocate.

Lee - who was connected to 7 murders between 1998 and 2003 in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette - appealed his death sentence earlier this year. The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected his bid in September, putting him 1 step closer to execution.

A date had not been set for the execution.

Lee was sentenced to death in 2004 for killing and mutilating LSU graduate student Charlotte Murray Pace in her Baton Rouge home in 2002. The 22-year-old was raped, bludgeoned and stabbed more than 80 times, officials said.

He received a separate life sentence for the 2002 killing of 21-year-old Geralyn Barr DeSoto, of Addis.

Authorities suspect Lee killed 5 other women - Trineisha Dene Colomb, Randi Mebruer, Pam Kinamore, Carrie Lynn Yoder and Gina Wilson Green - between 1998 and 2003, but he was never tried in those cases.

The 6-year killing spree petrified Southern Louisiana, Sinquefield said.

"For a period of time, you had 600,000 people in South Louisiana that were terrified. People afraid to go out of their homes, taking extra security precautions," he told the newspaper.

Source: New York Daily News, January 21, 2016

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